Knight’s Fine Jewelry marks 30 years

 

From left, Cheryl Fendt, her mother Beverly Knight and Sami Seeney celebrated the 30th anniversary of Knight’s Fine Jewelry in Camden on Thursday, Oct. 13. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

From left, Cheryl Fendt, her mother Beverly Knight and Sami Seeney celebrated the 30th anniversary of Knight’s Fine Jewelry in Camden on Thursday, Oct. 13. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

CAMDEN — Beverly Knight vividly remembers Oct. 13, 1986.

That was the day that she opened Knight’s Fine Jewelry at the corner of the Rodney Village Shopping Center. The daughter of a watchmaker and jeweler, she couldn’t wait to get started in the family business.

“We started out and the first day we opened I didn’t have a budget, I didn’t have any advertising and I was new to the area,” Ms. Knight said. “So we opened up that day and I had a brand new dress and we were up until three o’clock in the morning getting ready … and nobody came.

“The first day not a single person came, so I was like, ‘What have I done?’”

While that unforgettable day raised doubts for Ms. Knight, who moved to Delaware in 1983, it turned out that things would pick up after that as Knight’s Fine Jewelry eventually grew into a multi-generational business destination in Camden.

Knight’s Fine Jewelry marked its 30th anniversary last Thursday at 240 East Camden Wyoming Avenue, its third location since opening three decades ago.

The business celebrated with some flowers, decorations, treats for its loyal customers and by giving away a diamond ring valued at $695.

Ms. Knight wanted to do something for her customers because they are the backbone of her business. She said she couldn’t believe 30 years had flown by so quickly.

“It’s hard because sometimes the days are long, but those years they fly by,” she said. “It’s just hard to believe. It’s a little scary that life goes by so fast but it is rewarding that you have families that have been happy with us for that long.”

Knight’s Fine Jewelry offers new and pre-owned jewelry sales, jewelry repair, custom-made jewelry, machine and hand engraving, appraisals, and watch repair and restoration.

Cheryl Fendt, Ms. Knight’s daughter, was introduced into the jewelry industry at a very young age. She is now an accredited jewelry professional alongside her mother.

“We started in Rodney Village and it was downstairs, we lived upstairs, so we came home from school and [mom] was there every day to help us with homework and things,” Ms. Fendt said. “But we still got to see the interaction of what the business was all about.”

It gave her a chance to meet many different members of the community and also helped her realize that the family business could offer many different things that a large box store could not.

The biggest thing was personal service and sometimes going above and beyond the call.

She remembers once at Christmas when there was a lady whose mother had her wedding ring getting worked on and her father was gravely ill in the hospital and did not want to pass until he was able to see that ring back on his wife’s finger.

“We basically had to redo this ring,” Ms. Fendt recalled. “So he was on his death bed and they called and were like ‘Is it ready?’ and we told them ‘We’ve got a little ways to go.’ She said, ‘I don’t think he’s going to make it.’

“So my mom drove to our jeweler an hour-plus away, picked up the ring finished — because we called her ahead of time and said ‘Whatever you’ve got to do, it’s got to be done’ — and she delivered that ring to Christiana Hospital.”

Thanks to Ms. Knight’s dedication to her customers and business, that man did see that ring return to his wife’s finger before he passed away about an hour later.

Knight’s Fine Jewelry takes pride in being able to create timeless pieces of jewelry that can be handed down from generation to generation.

Ms. Knight said that her business sense was given to her by her father, who she worked alongside at his jewelry store in Pennsylvania when she was just a kid.

“It was a magical time for me because I was able to work with him,” she said. “If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have this jewelry store.”

When her father decided to retire in the mid-1980s, she decided to move the remainder of his inventory to her new store in Delaware.

Then, she received a quick reminder of the benefits of being an honest business owner.

“The first thing I ever sold out of Knight’s Fine Jewelry was a cross,” said Ms. Knight. “I said ‘OK, I’ve been honest until now, this is a sign that I should continue to be honest.’ And I always have been.”

Bonnie Wiley worked at Knight’s Fine Jewelry for 15 years. She still enjoys stopping by the store and chatting with customers.

She noted that her favorite part of the story is its ability to create distinctive jewelry.

“Say a man gets a ladies’ cocktail ring, well he’s probably not going to wear that,” Ms. Wiley said. “But if a customer brings it in here they’ll figure out a way to allow him to hold on to it.

“They might take those stones out so that he’ll still have a piece of his great, great grandmother, say as a tie tack, a pinky ring, cuff links. The biggest thing is they create from scratch things for you.”

Ms. Knight enjoys going out of her way to satisfy her customers. It’s what makes her business so unique.

“I can offer many things. I can go outside the box,” she said. “We take on challenges that other jewelry stores won’t.

“I’ve never had a sale in 30 years. I don’t have sales because I think that gives the customers two different stories with two different prices. I’ve always strived to run an honest business and that’s probably while we’re still here — 30 years later.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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