THIS WORLD-RENOWNED HUSBAND-AND-WIFE TEAM HAS BEEN IN THE HIGH-END JEWELRY BUSINESS FOR FOUR DECADES, BUT IT’S THEIR 20-YEAR-OLD MILLBURN RETAIL SHOP WHERE THEY’VE FOUND THEIR MOST HEARTFELT SUCCESS
BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN • PHOTOS BY TOM ZAPCIC
Nancy Stone loves a good piece of jewelry. Emerald or asscher cut, rose gold or platinum, she doesn’t play favorites the Millburn-based jeweler appreciates it all. But she does firmly believe that every bauble in someone’s collection should hold some form of personal significance.
“All of my jewelry is very meaningful to me,” noted Stone. “Each piece evokes a memory or represents a particular stage in my life. When I wear each bracelet, ring, or necklace I think about how I will one day pass those memories on to my children and grandchildren.”
It’s a philosophy that Stone uses in her business as well, creating custom jewelry for a clientele that has followed her line for the past 40 years.
“People bring me diamonds they have inherited and preface the appointment by explaining away the poor clarity of the stone,” said the jeweler.
“But I don’t care how flawed a diamond might be. The piece is perfect because of the story it holds inside. The ring they bring me and the stone within it is a symbol of the generations of family it has held together for decades.”
Stone, who owns Nancy and David Fine Jewels with her husband David, is considered one of the area’s pioneers of modern jewelry design. Together, the couple has been selling high-end custom-made jewelry since 1980.
“We’ve dated since the time I was 17 and she 14,” said David Stone. The high school sweethearts parted ways for college. He attended George Washington University in D.C., and she went to Hofstra while operating a jewelry boutique in Cedarhurst, NY.
While working for Lehman Brothers a few years after graduation, David Stone realized that he could earn more by selling Nancy’s creations than he could hope to earn at a corporate job so soon out of school. In 1980, he invested in her business, and the couple wed in 1982. Three years later, the duo was given the coveted Jewelry Designer of the Year award.
The duo enjoyed several good years in a robust economy. Nancy Reagan, a jewelry enthusiast, was in the White House, and her designer awareness helped catapult the industry. The Stones’ designs were showcased in Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, and they soon had a staff of 40 and millions of dollars in sales. But by the mid-1990s the couple decided to scale back their wholesale operation and “workaholic” hours to raise three children, personally overseeing smaller production runs to ensure impeccable service.
That’s when they opened their first retail store, Nancy and David Fine Jewels, in their New Jersey hometown. Their store has celebrated the atypical, exceptional, and extraordinary from the start. Featuring everything from their namesake bench made collections and short-run lines from boutique ateliers to antique and contemporary pieces created by master artisans, their mélange is revered by jewelry lovers throughout the world.
Now, after selling fine jewelry to clients for more than two decades, they are commissioning pieces for a second generation of New Jersey families.
“Many of our clients have moved away and still come back to us, especially now that their own children are grown and getting engaged,” said Nancy Stone. “We’ve developed a loyal following, this incredible high-end network that calls upon us from all over the country to commemorate a milestone occasion.”
Stone credits her husband with developing the business into an upscale, concierge luxury headquarters, adding: “Without his insight and drive we would never be where we are today.”
She also said their already healthy bridal business became even stronger over the past year.
“Thanks to COVID we have sold more engagement rings than ever before. There’s been quite a flurry of younger people taking the leap, inspired by these crazy times we’ve seen in the span of a year. And those stats even include our own daughter.”
Stone, of course, designed the ring. “I might have went a little over budget,” she laughed. But it’s that opportunity to flex her creative muscles that the jeweler treasures.
“I personally love the client that gives me creative freedom,” she said. “Many of our clients are traditional, which is lovely, but when I get a client who comes in and asks for something unique and a little bit avant-garde, I’m all over that.”
She currently loves working in rose gold, a metal that she said was popular in the 1940s but has experienced newfound glory over the last five to ten years.
“Definitely what’s old is new again,” she said. “But that’s how it goes in the jewelry business. I have many clients come in with an heirloom piece looking to completely revamp it because it’s not on trend. I always tell those clients to wait. Everything is cyclical. They’ll be wishing for that antique piece in just a few years.”
And Stone suggests creating some sort of jewelry tradition when your family is still growing. “Start a charm bracelet for your daughter or buy a special watch to pass on to your son,” she concluded. “It’s those pieces of jewelry, the ones that tell a story, that are worth so much more than the price tag that’s attached to it.”
“It’s those pieces of jewelry, the ones that tell a story, that are worth so much more than the price tag that’s attached to it.”
Nancy and David Fine Jewels
266 Essex St, Millburn / 973.912.9640 / nancyanddavid.com