Local jeweler gains business with overseas trips

By Erin Kolb

A local jewelry store owner is planning on using her overseas finds to bring variety to her store.

Every April and October, Becky Beck Ryan, of Becky Beck’s Jewelry Store, 303 E. Hillcrest Drive, travels to Antwerp, Belgium, with a group of jewelers as part of the Independent Jewelers Organization.

This is Beck’s 26th trip after 13 years of making the visits. Beck said traveling with the organization is the only way she can get extensive access to the Belgian market while still buying as an individual.

“I get to cherry pick, so to speak,” Beck said. “I get to look at individual diamonds, and I’m not limited by size.”

Beck said after she and the other buyers choose the diamonds from a selection of about 25 Belgian stores the group makes one large purchase.

“We deal directly with cutters who cut the diamonds,” Beck said. “I shop for my clients. I have a shopping list for individuals who pre-arranged with me before I go. I look for specifics, and I’m usually exposed to so much inventory that I exceed expectations.”

Beck said she usually has eight to 12 clients who make special requests when it is time for her biannual trip. While in Belgium, she visits stores and pulls aside diamonds she’s interested in, and researches competitive pricing in the area.

With her customers, Beck said she discusses budget beforehand and looks at prices competitively to get the best diamond for the client’s budget.

By talking about her trip when she gets back and before she leaves, Beck said she generates business and special requests. She described her selection process as similar to choosing fruit at a grocery store.

“It’s kind of like when you’re buying strawberries,” she said. “You’ll pick up the container and turn it upside down to make sure all of the strawberries look good. But if they gave you the container and sent you into the strawberry field, you’d be sure to pick the ripest, juiciest strawberries. That’s what buying diamonds is like.”

Sookie Lehman is a jewelry appraiser who comes to Becky Beck’s on the first Saturday of every month to appraise her jewelry for insurance purpose or curiosity.

“Becky’s doing great with her store in DeKalb,” Lehman said. “Watching her business expand and grow has been really wonderful.”