LONG JEWELERS OF CHESAPEAKE
Engagement diamonds to fit everyone's budget
by Kelli Tatum
Owner, Steve Long
Proposing to his fiancÃ©e with a diamond from Antwerp, Belgium seemed like a far-fetched idea to Cecil McGhee when he was searching for an engagement ring for his bride-to-be in 2011. But Steve Long, owner of Long Jewelers in Chesapeake, made it a reality for the now-retired Navy Chief.
"I remember looking at diamonds at Long Jewelers in Chesapeake with Steve. He was so knowledgeable about them and respectful of my budget. He started telling me about his upcoming trip to Antwerp and I was fascinated. When he said he could bring me a diamond back within my budget, I was shocked. I didn't think I could afford a stone like that from a country known for its high grade of diamonds," Cecil says.
"Steve was so knowledgeable about diamonds
and respectful of my budget.
When he said he could bring me a diamond back from Belgium
within my budget, I was shocked.
I didn't think I could afforda stone like that
I didn't think I could afforda stone like that
from a countryknown for its high grade of diamonds."
- Cecil McGhee, retired Navy Chief
That's exactly what Steve did, except instead of one diamond, he brought back two. "He gave me options. He actually took the time to pick out two he thought I would love and could afford," Cecil remembers.
Steve has been taking the 6,000 mile journey from Hampton Roads to Belgium for his customers for 15 years. "I've been building relationships with site holders for decades. It's enabled me the opportunity to visit Antwerp each year and shop these diamonds as a wholesaler, and in turn, save my customers thousands of dollars," Steve explains.
These site holders are people who own large sections of the mines in Belgium where the most precious diamonds are gleaned. Not just anyone can walk into these buying times either. "I have set appointments at set times with the site holders. They are very strict and mean business. It can be intense," the jeweler describes. Steve takes the trip seriously. You won't find him doing much sight-seeing or relaxing while he's there.
Gorgeous diamond rings for engagements or special occasions
"I'm there on business and I only have a set amount of time to get the diamonds I have promised my customers. It's important that I stay focused and get all my orders filled to my satisfaction," the jeweler points out. Deposits are collected prior to the trip to allow Steve to plan how many people he needs to see and how many diamonds he needs to buy. He offers the opportunity to new and existing customers. "I start to mention it to folks about a month or two in advance to get the word out. It's such an awesome opportunity for me to be able to share with my customers. They are like my family, and I want to provide them with the best inventory I can find," Steve adds.
He hopes he can provide the romantic story for his clients, too. "The customer gets to tell the story of how their diamond was hand-picked for their fiancÃ©e. Years later, I hope these couples can tell their children, even their grandchildren, about how a man from a jewelry store in Chesapeake traveled all the way to Belgium just to find the best diamond he could for them. Now that's romantic," the warmhearted entrepreneur remarks.
Steve's connections aren't limited to Belgium. He also works with many vendors across the United States. His membership in organizations like the Independent Jewelers Association has also helped keep costs low. He has almost 30 years of experience not only buying diamonds, but grading them as well. "I know what to look for in a diamond. I've seen thousands over the years. Understanding what is important in a diamond and using that knowledge to find one isn't something I learned overnight!" he exclaims.
Steve believes one of the biggest keys to his success is his staff. It's not just their knowledge of the jewelry the store sells, but the importance of customer service. "All of my staff know to greet folks within 10 seconds of them walking in the door. Making someone feel welcome in your store is just good business," he says. Since Steve can't be available to all customers all the time, it's important that his staff have the same passion for serving others. Cecil McGhee says the customer service he receives is one of the most impressive and important attributes about the store, giving him all the more reason to continue shopping at Long's. "The staff know me by my first name. I can call them up and tell them what I am looking for and they will have some great pieces ready for me when I visit. The folks at Long's are just good people," he attests.
Dazzling jewelry to suit any personality or style
Another key in the store's success is Steve's philosophy on educating his customers. "When young couples come into the store, I try to encourage them to educate themselves on diamonds. I let them know there is something for every budget. I will make sure they get the best for their buck," he affirms.
The store offers a full spectrum of services, from cleanings, to repairs, to upgrades down the road. "Most couples getting engaged are just starting out in life, and I get that. That's why my staff and I work with them to get what they are financially comfortable with. Later down the road, five or ten years, they can always upgrade," Steve notes. He offers a 100 percent money back option on engagement diamonds purchased at his store when couples are ready to upgrade. As long as the diamond is in good shape and has no chips, he will give a customer the same amount of money they paid for the diamond to put it toward their new diamond.
Long Jewelers has jewelry from as low as $20 to as high as $25,000, offering something for everyone. It is the only store in Chesapeake to offer fire polished diamonds, a feature that has been around for about five years. It's a technique that allows an intense sparkle through thousands of nano prisms cut into the diamond, creating the "fire." Long's carries many well-known brands such as Pandora and Hearts on Fire, but also many brands folks may not know about. "We have some collections that are not well-known, but fabulous. They don't just meet my expectation; they exceed it," he says. "I will always offer only the best product and service to the community as long as my doors are open," he smiles.
701 N. Battlefield Blvd.
Chesapeake, VA 23320