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Castiglione still shines

Jewelry store celebrating 80 years in Gloversville

August 16, 2009
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - More than diamonds will be shining at Castiglione Gem Jewelers Saturday.

Louis Castiglione Jr., the owner of the North Main Street business, said cars from the eight decades the store has been open will be parked out front. A jewelry sale, which will take place Friday and Saturday, will be part of the festivities.

Castiglione said the reason for having the jewelry sale and car show is partly to celebrate the 80 years the business has been open in the downtown area.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Lou Castiglione, the owner of Castiglione Gem Jewelers in Gloversville, places estate jewelry in a display case inside the showroom at the store on Wednesday.

"Very few businesses last that long and stay in the family," he said.

Wally Hart, the president of the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said it certainly is not common for a business to be open that long and be owned by one family.

"[The business] has stayed here through all the highs and lows," he said.

The business was started in 1929 by Louis Castiglione Sr. He repaired watches for years, along with selling a variety of goods including razors, electric clocks and eyeglasses. As the business grew more successful over the years, it sold more gold and gems.

One of the things visitors to the jewelry sales will get a glimpse of is the popular styles of jewelry that have been sold since the business first opened.

Castiglione said over the years, the popular styles have varied a great deal. At times the preferred jewelry is more ornate and flashy, while at other times it is much more conservative.

"It reflects the mood of the people at that time," he said.

Out in the store's front window display Tuesday, Castiglione pointed out the different styles of jewelry that were fashionable over the years. Of course, keeping up with current tastes is still important.

As the price of gold has gone up, less expensive metals have become more popular as the base metal in jewelry. Silver is among the most notable of those. Castiglione said the store now has more silver jewelry than it did in the past, but it still has plenty of gold too.

Of all the items for sale at Castiglione Jewelers - rings, necklaces, figurines to name a few - what helps make it unique are not necessarily the pieces for sale, he said. The focus for the five employees at the store is helping their customers in a correct and timely fashion, Castiglione said. It's helping people find the proper piece that will be used for a special occasion and be an heirloom in the future, he said.

Hart said Castiglione's brings in people frequently who would otherwise not be in the downtown. He said its advertising extends well through the Capital region.

Castiglione said given the level of knowledge and experience at the store, customers will travel to shop there. He annually goes to Antwerp, Belgium, to pick out diamonds for his customers. He has written articles for trade magazines. Not to mention, the business has been open and repairing jewelry or 80 years.

"It's an art," he said. "It's something that comes from experience."

According to the American Gem Society Web site, Lou Castiglione is one of 10 certified gemologists in the state. To earn the title, a jeweler has to prove to a panel of peers he has gem and appraisal knowledge and high ethical standards. The 25 N. Main St. business also has an accredited gem lab.

Castiglione said when people walk into a jewelery store, they tend to assume the people working there know what they are talking about.

"But that is not always true," he said. "Here, we do."

Castiglione told a story to illustrate his point, and also convey how valuable the gem lab can be. Years ago, he said, a customer came in with an antique stick pin. The person wanted the "emerald" on it used for something else. Castiglione said after informing the customer it was not an emerald but a doublet - a composite stone made of two pieces cemented or glued together - the customer responded that another jeweler told him it was an emerald.

By using the lab, Castiglione said he was able to show the customer that it was a doublet.

"Everyone that hangs their shingle as a jeweler," he said, "does not know what they're talking about."

Castiglione, who has worked at the business for about 35 years, said the event is meant to benefit the community. By bringing people to the downtown, they will be able to see what else is available.

"People don't have to buy anything to partake in the fun of seeing the jewelry or the cars," he said.

Lee Schopmeier, the owner of Lee Schopmeier Restorations in Gloversville, is organizing the car show. It sounded like a unique idea, to try and find cars from the last 8 decades, he said.

Schopmeier was still getting all of the car owners in order late last week, to try and cover the last 80 years. He did not anticipate any problems having enough cars to park on North Main?Street Saturday.

"We'll be OK," he said.

While he doesn't know what the future will hold exactly for the business, Castiglione said sales have held up despite the economy. He noted his son, Andy, is doing work at the business and decisions about its future may have to be made by him one day.

"He's doing a great job," Castiglione said of his son. "I think he will be a great jeweler."



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