For jeweler, service is just as important as the sale

Mike Seltzer sees himself as much more than just a middleman passing on jewelry to customers.

About half the jewelry that Mike Seltzer Jewelers sells is customized by one of two jewelers on staff. And Seltzer is adamant that servicing jewelry after the sale is the most important thing his store does.

"It's still my piece of jewelry and I'll take care of it," Seltzer said.

Mike Seltzer Jewelers is marking its 60th year in business this year. Located throughout its history on the east side, it moved to its present site in Comotara Center 14 years ago.

"I always knew what I wanted to do," he said.

Seltzer said his store is probably best known for its diamond inventory, but he said there's "something for everyone" — even for children looking for a $10 gift for their sweetheart or parent.

Of course, most items cost more than that.

Before the doors opened for business on a recent morning, Seltzer led a tour of display cases full of glittering diamond rings, bracelets, earrings, pearls and more. He sported a gold watch and ring, along with a silent alarm around his neck.

Asked about his favorite piece, Seltzer picked out a 2-carat canary and white diamond ring featuring what he called a "free form" design.

"The more unusual, the better I like it," he said. "Women do not like to see their jewelry on somebody else — and I can accommodate that."

Customizing jewelry can take several forms, he said. Some people want minor modifications in something already in stock; others bring in photographs of something they've seen in a magazine; still others simply bring in loose precious stones and ask Seltzer to create a setting for them.

Seltzer's years in business have given him several favorite stories. He says he once honored a sale price in a 10-year-old newspaper advertisement that a customer had carried around in her purse for that entire time.

He's also regularly designed commemorative pieces for celebrities who visit Wichita, including country music stars, Miss Kansas and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, for whom he fashioned a diamond-encrusted Buffalo Soldier pin.

He'll be busier than ever the next two months, when his store has its annual 50-percent-off sale on most items.

"People save up all year for these sales," he said.

Although jewelry styles have changed through the years, Seltzer said the basis of jewelry sales remains the same.

"It's mainly an expression of love and commitment. I don't sell jewelry as an investment. I don't do that," he said, although he adds that "the larger stones have never gone down" in value.

Seltzer's motivation remains the same, too.

"My favorite time is when I deliver the piece and see the smile on their face," he said.