Small business jeweler still sparkles after quarter century

Mike Han
Mike Han

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Wedding Ring Shop is no diamond in the rough. For almost a quarter century, this company has sparkled through economic ups-and-downs.

Hawaii News Now continues its series on successful small businesses in our islands, and you may want to browse its aisles before you walk down THE aisle.

Buying a diamond involves more than the four C's of cut, clarity, color, and carat. Just ask a diamondologist. "We are very much jewelry professionals," says Mike Han, president of The Wedding Ring Shop in Honolulu.

He says personal relationships are just as important as the product. "The customer that comes in, first of all, a lot of guys that are looking at a diamond for the very first time. They're very nervous, and trust is a big issue."

Sales consultants have worked to build that trust since 1987 - when Han opened his first store at Ala Moana shopping center. That's why customers like Thelma Marumo keep coming back. Thelma says she's planning for her wedding next year. I asked, "Do you have a date set yet?" "No," Thelma replied. "I don't have the man yet!" The room erupted in laughter.

Five years ago, Han relocated to what he calls a "destination" store on Kapiolani boulevard. More room, more rings. And, at a time when many are downsizing, they're hiring staff, widening the showroom, and expanding exclusive jewelry collections. All of their diamonds are conflict-free.

General Manager Karin Knudsen adds, "It's one of the most exciting times of life, so you want an atmosphere that's going to share in that excitement and really help to make the memories. Not just of the wedding memories but of the memories of picking out the ring."

Customers are free to inspect the gemstones with the shop's tools and microscopes, and they get free lifetime cleaning and repairs. 98 percent of their clients live in Hawaii. "We feel that the local residents are our favorite type of customer. We cater to them because we get repeat business from them," says Han.

His advice to other small businesses: be prepared, be flexible, and surround yourself with talented hires.

The Wedding Ring Shop was actually one of the first in the market to start buying back gold - which is hugely popular now - and they offer several options, besides just receiving cash back.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.