An interview with Elizabeth reveals the history behind MSJ and how she fits into its legacy!
How did Market Square Jewelers begin? // What got you started in the antique jewelry business?
When traveling to Antigua as a teenager in the early 70’s, my father purchased a number of shell necklaces from native craftspeople. When he came back to Cape Cod, he hustled the beaches in his hometown reselling the necklaces to tourists visiting for the summer. He always said, as simple as it is, this was where Market Square Jewelers was born!
As for me, I was born into this company! I grew up taking naps in the back of the stores, working in them as a young teen, and absorbing the gem and jewelry business first hand from the time I could walk and talk. After I finished college, I attended the Gemological Institute of America and received my Graduate Gemology degree. When thinking back on my decision to be part of the business, there was never a time when I thought I’d be doing anything else. Antique jewelry and rare gems are in my blood.
What sets the store apart from other jewelry stores–even other antique jewelry stores?
Now a two generation company, we have not lost sight of what we do – marry antique or vintage gold with gems and restoring/refurbishing/recreating historical objects to their most beautiful selves! Though we try to restore our pieces to their original condition – we are also recreating them to have new lives and personalities. For a piece that originally had a piece of red synthetic spinel, we now are replacing it with a ruby, a pink sapphire or a tourmaline. Our objective is to bring out the best in every piece of jewelry!
Being a small family business, we are very intimately involved with our customers and their needs. There is not a single purchase that becomes “just a drop in the bucket”. Every purchase has a great impact on how we grow and change as a company. This intimacy allows us to have relationships with every one of our customers – whether we are customizing a charm bracelet, recreating a lost piece from antique components, or sourcing an unusual gemstone.
Most Exciting Moments in Career
I remember the first sale on our website, marketsquarejewelers.com. Launching our site was a huge endeavor: refining our look, inventory management, perfecting product photography, blog content, copy writing, etc. I remember the first sale that we made: a pair of simple gold earrings. There was definitely some shrieking and running down the hall of the second floor giving the gals high fives. We all hugged and were so excited and had been working so hard to see it happen! We were all smiles! Our work had finally paid off!
This was one of the first banners on our first rendition of marketsquarejewelers.com. Taken by the talented Alex Estee, our online sales manager!
Any jaw-dropping or memorable pieces you’ve sold throughout the years?
It is hearsay that the Gemological Institute of America has only seen 10 taaffeites in all the years they have been identifying gemstones; we own one of them. Being nerdy, when it comes to rare and unusual gemstones, finding this gem and having the opportunity to buy it has been one of the most exciting moments!
In addition to the taffeite, I will always remember one yellow heliodor beryl ring, set in platinum and adorned with diamonds. The ring was our first sale on our Etsy shop, MSJewelers. Etsy was the first online sales venue where we saw success. In the beginning of our venture online, it was the sale of that ring that caused excited sleepless nights, early mornings and fueled the drive to move forward.
Don’t mind the photograph! This is the heliodor beryl ring that was our first sale on our Etsy shop, MSJewelers. I cannot tell you how excited I was when I received the order!
Tell us about the Elizabeth Henry Collection
The Elizabeth Henry Collection spawned from my desire to recreate some of the most incredible antique engagement rings and colored stone pieces we have had over the 30 years we have been in business. High quality antique jewelry in excellent condition is getting harder and harder to source. By recreating some of these pieces, we are able to provide both an antique option and a reproduction antique option.
I chose to name the collection using my maiden name, Henry, as a tribute to my roots and my father. I love my maiden name; the way it sounds, its rich heritage, and the way it connects me to my family. The collection would not be possible without my father’s unrelenting love for colored gemstones and commitment to Market Square Jewelers. By keeping Henry, I hope to honor both my father and MSJ. Read about the history of MSJ through my father’s eyes here.
This picture was taken from my office, where the walls are adorned with ornate crimson wall paper. Previously a law office, I instantly fell in love with this space.
Goals for the future?
As a woman who is now expecting her second baby, one of the greatest challenges is being a mother and a business woman. I have so many goals for this business, including expanding our online presence, continuing to develop the Elizabeth Henry Collection, suppling our customers with heirloom quality jewelry, and continuing ways to give back to the communities that we live and work in. But, my biggest challenge and goal is balancing all of these things to be a loving and present mother, a supportive boss, and a smart business woman.
Anything else you would like to mention?
I just would like to say how thankful I am to our loyal customers. We have customers who have been buying from us for over 30 years from our stores in Newburyport, MA and Portsmouth, NH. These people feel like family to me and many have watched me grow up in the family business. Thank you for your support, and your commitment to this company. We couldn’t do this without you!
For our online customers, though I haven’t met many of you in person, we are connected in many other ways! Keep sending us your Instagram posts, your emails, and your feedback. I see every one and it does really shape the way we continue to do business. We are so very thankful.