Like one of the pieces they sell, Robin Lies and Nathan Regan figured their jewelry store could use a little polishing after almost 37 years.
Today, the renovation of Burnell’s is complete, with a new paint job, furniture, lighting and flooring to replace carpet that ran up the walls.
“We de-fluffed the place,” Lies said.
“We had fun doing this,” Regan added.
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There are some new product lines and a spiffy new design suite that allows customers to mock up their own pieces in 3-D images while choosing from thousands of options.
What hasn’t changed, Lies and Regan said, is the approach to customer service that founder Jerry Burnell entrenched in the place.
Lies said she and Regan bought it from Burnell last year “because it was a really great store. The whole place was amazing. Plus, I needed a job and the rest of the staff did, too.”
Burnell opened the store on what was then two-lane Rock Road, near Central, in 1979. Lies has worked there 18 years; Regan half as long.
Lies oversees the sales floor, while Regan is one of four goldsmiths in the back of the shop. His family has been in the jewelry business since 1934 in Garden City.
Both owners go to large industry gatherings to pick out the jewelry the store carries. Lies said Burnell’s has always been known for getting its pieces from a large number of makers across the globe.
“It’s more fashion jewelry than wedding and bridal, and it has many price points,” she said.
Burnell’s also repairs and designs some of its own pieces. In fact, its goldsmiths work on everything from eyeglass frames to footed platters.
“We have four jewelers who can pretty much tackle anything,” Regan said.
The design suite consists of a keyboard, computer program and a big-screen TV on which a customer or store employee can build images of rings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and other jewelry, mixing and matching metals, gems, designs and other features as desired.
“We have people come in all the time with real specific requests,” Regan said. “This is great for that as well as people who have no idea what they want.”
Compared to the old method of carving a wax mold — something the store’s goldsmiths can also still do — “it gives us an opportunity to speed up the customization process,” Regan said.
It should also help the store keep up with jewelry styles, which Lies noted are always changing.
“That’s the fun in it,” she said.
Her excitement was evident as she moved through display cases, showing of a series of rings built around uniquely shaped pearls; a pendant featuring an antique Chinese gaming piece fashioned from mother of pearl, and a $2,500 pocket knife complete with gold inlay, Damascus steel and wooly mammoth tooth.
Burnell’s has also started carrying blown glass and other artworks by some local artisans. It offers appraisals and has a small consignment section.
“Burnell’s was always a really comfortable store and not intimidating,” Lies said.
She and Regan want to keep that vibe, as well as letting customers know “if they want to buy a $100,000 piece of jewelry, it’s going to be a good place.”