In Geneva, family-owned businesses are vital to keeping intact the small-town feel that attracts visitors — and homeowners — to its unique and historical offerings.
And Perlman Fine Jewelry has been a staple family-owned business in the Geneva community for years.
“It’s the kind of store we like to see in Geneva,” says Jean Gaines, president of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. “[It’s] unique, family-owned, involved in the community, attractive, [provides] good service — all of the things you like to see in a good community retailer.”
Founded in 1960 in Elgin by Milt and Dorothy Perlman, this fine jewelry and gift store is now owned and operated by the founder’s son, Corey Perlman, who has embarked on an exciting new chapter in his family’s business.
Mere weeks ago, the business moved from its 10-year home in the Geneva Commons to a new prime location at the corner of State and Third streets in downtown Geneva, and Corey Perlman is excited about his new opportunity there.
An affection for downtown Geneva
The opportunity to move to 301 W. State St. was something Perlman says he simply couldn’t pass up.
“It’s the most prominent corner in downtown Geneva, and we were fortunate to have been able to recreate the store’s beautiful environment,” Perlman says.
Not only is the location exceptional for both pedestrians and commuters to view as they travel through Geneva, but the storefront itself is ideal for showcasing the exquisite pieces Perlman carries.
The historical integrity of the masonry building was something Perlman wanted to preserve, he says. He installed vintage-inspired exterior signage to complement the historic downtown area and refinished the original solid bronze hardware on the front door.
Once inside, large windows give the new showroom a light, airy feel, and Perlman — with help from many talented, local craftsmen — restored the original tin tile ceiling and exposed the brick wall on one side of the store to reveal its authentic architectural elements.
The store also received several upgrades, including custom cabinetry, energy-efficient LED lighting and hand-scraped, hickory hardwood floors, which were installed by Carlson’s Flooring located just down the road.
“We also put in quartzite slate with some glass accents in the entryway,” says Lisa Carlson Nelson, co-owner of the flooring shop, who adds that she enjoyed working on the renovation project. “The recycled glass adds a little bling, just like his jewelry does … . It’s great the way he’s worked the old with the new. He’s done a great job with updating the space.”
Victor Erday, landlord to Perlman and president of Erday’s men’s clothing located just behind Perlman’s on Third Street, also notes that the transformation to the corner lot has been eye-catching.
Erday says he’s excited to see how things progress for the jewelry store.
Perlman, who worked with Geneva’s Historic Preservation Commission, simply says he likes the downtown area and always has.
“We have a great affection for downtown Geneva,” Perlman says. “My wife’s family lived on Ford Street, just a few blocks from where our new store is today. She and I also lived in downtown Geneva, and we always loved shopping and dining there. So, I try to keep my business local whenever I can, and I reciprocate with those who do business with me.”
Better quality, better value
While its location may be new, Perlman Fine Jewelry remains dedicated to providing better quality jewelry in all price ranges.
“We’re very selective about the jewelry we carry,” Perlman says. “We try to find designers that don’t mass produce, that make unique and wearable styles.”
That includes designers like Charles Garnier, who creates shimmering sterling silver jewelry finished in rhodium, yellow gold and rose gold, and Edward Mirell, who produces innovative titanium jewelry for men and women.
Even by offering designer pieces, however, Perlman makes sure to keep things affordable.
“We carry two designers that specialize in dichroic glass jewelry,” Perlman says. “It’s beautiful to see, and it’s made in sterling silver, [which] keeps it very affordable … . Sterling silver has allowed people to continue to buy jewelry, even in tough economic times, and we represent several sterling silver designers.”
Of course, Perlman carries highly recognizable names as well, including Mikimoto, the originator of cultured pearls, and watch designers such as Victorinox Swiss Army and Rado.
Colored stones — especially colored diamonds — are very popular right now, and the store has a large variety of such pieces, including cognac and blue diamond jewelry by De Leo.
Perlman even has its own line of high-tech ceramic watches that sell incredibly well, Perlman says. The men’s and women’s pieces feature Swiss movements and a two-year warranty, are extremely well-made and can’t be found anywhere else.
“Whatever the price range is, it’s going to be fine quality here,” Perlman says. “It’s really disappointing to see people waste their money on low-quality jewelry. In our store, whether your budget is $10 or $10,000, you are getting a good value because you are buying better quality jewelry.”
In addition to his jewelry, Perlman also offers specialty gifts, which sets his business apart from many other jewelry stores.
In particular, he carries Spanish Lladro porcelain figurines that come in different subject matters that appeal to people celebrating special occasions such as the birth of a child, Mother’s Day or Christmas.
“Not only does Lladro make fine quality collectibles, but they also make artistic statement pieces that people are using in home décor today,” Perlman says.
Other gift items include high-end, hardwood jewelry boxes with beautiful finishes and art glass, including pieces from Murano, Italy.
“We’ve always tried to have something for every customer,” Perlman says.
Experience and service
Perlman started working at his father’s jewelry store when he was 14 years old, and he attended the Gemological Institute of America in California to become a graduate gemologist.
Today, at the age of 50, he has considerable knowledge in the jewelry industry, and he’s surrounded himself with others who are similarly equipped with industry expertise.
Each member of Perlman’s staff has been in the business for 25 to 35 years.
“We are able to offer expertise and advice to our customers that most other stores can’t,” Perlman says.
That collaborative experience allows Perlman to offer two more special services to his customers — a fantastic jewelry/watch repair service and the ability to custom design pieces.
“We can even take a sketch on a napkin and make it a reality,” Perlman says. “We have an excellent wax carver and two excellent jewelers, and they can create just about anything.”
Perlman will host a grand opening ribbon cutting/open house from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, with refreshments available to guests and special savings offered to customers. It will be a great opportunity for people to not only see the renovations that have been made to the building, but to ask questions and view first-hand what Perlman offers to the community.
He hopes to see many people stop by.
“I think it’s great to have a family business located in downtown Geneva, and an established family business that’s been around for a long time,” Nelson says. “I think that we’re more of a smaller community, and it’s important to shop locally. [Perlman] is a great representation for our community. He provides great products and services and has built great relationships with his customers.
“And that’s what our community is about.” kc
Perlman Fine Jewelry
at the corner of State and Third Street, Downtown Geneva
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
The public is invited to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon, Thursday, Feb. 7, at Perlman Fine Jewelry, 301 W. State St., in Geneva. The event will be sponsored by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. Geneva city officials will be on site as well as merchants, Perlman Fine Jewelry staff, family, friends and a special appearance from the founders of the business, Milt and Dorothy Perlman. Special grand opening savings of 30% to 50% off will be offered on most fine jewelry during the store’s week-long celebration from Feb. 7 through 14.