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Melanie Rene Jewelry to open in former Emmert's Jewelry & Repair on East Central

WICHITA — After almost 20 years in business, Emmert's Jewelry & Repair at 4618 E. Central closed, but a new jewelry store is opening in its place.

Melanie Williamson hopes to open her Melanie Rene Jewelry by Aug. 1.

The custom designer says, "I do real modern, contemporary stuff, but I also will do remounting, repair, appraisal — everything."

Williamson grew up in Wichita, went to the University of Kansas and never returned home until now.

Initially, she studied graphic design, but she says one bad teacher caused her to change her focus.

Williamson took an elective class that piqued her interest and caused her to shift her major to metalsmithing.

Eventually, she opened Gemesis Jewelers in Las Vegas, which she had for five years. She closed the shop three years ago but decided she wants to get back in the business full time.

Williamson says she's "done with Vegas."

"I was there almost 10 years. It's really hard to get a business going there right now."

Williamson likes that her new space is close to the popular Bella Luna Cafe.

Her mother, Barbara Williams of Prudential Dinning-Beard, helped her find it.

And though Williamson says she's a very different jeweler than Jim Emmert was, she likes the East Central space because "it was previously a jewelry store, and everybody knows it's a jewelry store."

"I'm just kind of relying on the old foot traffic."