From the outside, Joden Jewelers, located in Grove City, PA, looks like a typical jewelry store found on the main street of any small town. But the inside tells a different story, serving as a showcase for one-of-a-kind estate and historical pieces that rival many museum collections.
Home to 30 pieces made by Carlo Giuliano, legendary jeweler to Queen Victoria, the store has the largest collection of Giuliano pieces in the United States—and even more than the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which holds 17 pieces of the renowned craftsman’s work.
“We have very high-end pieces in a range of prices,” said owner Joe Murawski of the specialized jewelry made by Giuliano, who also made pieces for the Russian Imperial Court. “As a jeweler, I am completely intrigued by his work; the craftsmanship is so intricate that I challenge any jeweler to try to duplicate it—they can’t do it. Even the most skilled person can’t figure out how he made the darn things.”
Joden’s also carries a substantial collection of antique jewelry with literally hundreds of pieces on display, many of which are in the original boxes in mint condition. “Antique jewelry, by definition, is more than 100 years old, and as such, are almost always one-of-a-kind,” said Murawski of the priceless collection.
As one of the most active estate and antique jewelry buyers in the country, Joe’s son, Jay Murawski, seeks out everything from rare Rolex and Patek Philippe watches to simple gold rings and far more complex pieces. “We will buy anything from a single piece to an entire company’s stock,” said Joe Murawski, adding that they also appraise and buy jewelry from lawyers dealing with estates and bank trust departments.
A HISTORY OF CRAFTSMANSHIP
As the son of Adam Murawski, a bench jeweler who did repair work and restorations for other jewelers, Joe Murawski came by his love of jewelry naturally. A superior athlete in high school, he was given scholarships to attend numerous universities, but decided to head off to Los Angeles to attend the Gemological Institute of America before deciding what to do with his future. He came back to Grove City and started the business in 1970, with a partner, Dennis, at the age of 19.
Unfortunately, the store didn’t take off until Murawski began working with the man who would become his mentor, Aaron Saltzman, a jeweler from Cleveland, OH.
“I asked him to help me, and part of his plan was to give me $50,000 of the ugliest jewelry he had at a good price,” Murawski laughed. “He also asked me to start a benchwork school to train other jewelers how to work on restoring and repairing antique pieces. I had to commit to contacting him for 20 minutes a day, six days a week—and that went on for 25 years.”
Every day, Joe learned a different lesson from Saltzman, covering every aspect of the business from the difference between Ceylon and Kashmir sapphires, to how to promote the company, to what to do about theft.
“Every day, I would talk to him for 20 minutes to an hour with questions about the company,” said Murawski. “I was lucky to run into a true scholar of jewelry—the best that there was. That turned the business in our favor.”
At age 36, Murawski bought Saltzman’s company and hired his mentor to work for Joden’s as a buyer, which Saltzman did until he was 84 years old. During that time, he also trained Joe’s son, Jay, who has since become an integral part of the business.
WHAT MAKES JODEN'S SPECIAL?
According to Jay Murawski, it is Joden’s diverse inventory that sets the company apart. “Whether someone is coming in for a $150 opal ring or a 3-carat diamond, we have it,” he said. “Most stores do not cater to that broad a spectrum of customers or trade.
“There is truly no one between Chicago and Philadelphia that has a store like ours,” he added of the storefront in ‘small-town USA.’ “Whether they want antique or estate jewelry or high-end modern designs, nobody in the Pittsburgh region does what we do.”
In addition to the Grove City location, Joden’s also owns Internet division Joden.com, and Joden World Resources, a mail order and wholesale division that sells and supplies pieces to jewelers in 25 U.S. states and six European countries.
Joden’s also has a very sophisticated shop that includes on-premise manufacturing facilities where they create their own one-of-a-kind pieces. Their custom work has won four national American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) awards, and has earned the coveted cover position on publications advertising both the Miami Beach International Antique Jewelry Show and the famed Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show. One of their crescent moon necklaces has even made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, worn by singer Stevie Nicks.
While their craftsmen can design anything, most customers find exactly what they want in Joden’s vast inventory when they visit the store.
“Our inventory is so extensive that we rarely need to build anything—it’s more likely that clients come in to see what we have and find things that they didn’t even know existed,” said Joe Murawski. “I promise when you leave here, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve found in Grove City.”
Joden’s Jewelers is located at 144 South Broad Street in Grove City, PA. You can also see more of their inventory at www.Joden.com or call 800-747-7552 to learn more.