Gem of a journey: Gehman Jewelers celebrates 50 years

By on June 16, 2016
Three generations (from left): granddaughter Alex, grandmother Nadine, and mother Stacey. Photo by Laura Knowles.

Three generations (from left): granddaughter Alex, grandmother Nadine, and mother Stacey. Photo by Laura Knowles.

Think engagements, graduations, birthdays and Mother’s Day, and you can’t help but think of Gehman Jewelers.

For the past 50 years, the long-time Ephrata jewelry store has been the place where so many young men carefully selected that diamond ring before proposing to their sweethearts on bended knee.

It’s also where parents have bought their graduating high school seniors watches and bracelets; husbands have bought their wives birthstone rings and diamond earrings for birthday gifts; and children have bought their mothers jewelry boxes and mother’s rings.

“We’ve been here for all the special moments in the lives of our customers,” said Nadine Lyon of Gehman Jewelers, who is now semi-retired. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years.”

As Gehman Jewelers marks its 50th anniversary, Lyon looked back on the early years when her late husband bought Gehman Jewelers and carried on the tradition that started long ago when the shop was originally Wertsch Jewelers.

Wertsch Jewelers opened at 39 East Main St., Ephrata, back in the 1920s. Dr. John Wertsch was also an eye doctor, who prescribed and fitted eyewear. For many years, the watchmaker at the shop was Paul Gehman, who made and repaired time pieces for his customers. Gehman eventually bought the shop and it was renamed as Gehman Jewelers.

In 1966, the new owners were Bernie and Nadine Lyon. Bernie had served in the Army, then worked at several fine jewelry shops in Reading and Lancaster. He always wanted to have his own shop and enjoyed working with the customers. His wife was the bookkeeper. They decided to keep the name as Gehman Jewelers.

When Bernie died in 1978, Nadine was left to take over the business that had meant so much to him. She discovered that it meant a lot to her, too, to be there for the milestones in her customers’ lives.

“We knew all about our customers, their lives, their trials and their tribulations,” says Lyon. “And we knew when that young man was going to propose with the diamond we had helped him choose.”

Through the years, Lyon carried on the Gehman Jewelers tradition by making the shop welcoming to all customers, whether they were buying diamond rings or getting watches repaired.

“It was never about the size of the wallet,” says Lyon. “From teenagers to grandmothers, we always wanted everyone to feel comfortable in the store.”

In 1985, the Lyons’ daughter, Stacey Schilt, married and moved to California with her husband. She had earned her college degree in economics, then worked as an accountant.

In 1987, the Schilts returned to Ephrata, and Stacey worked at the downtown store, which was known as Lyon Jewelers. Just before that, Gehman Jewelers opened a new store at Ephrata Commons on Route 272.

“Things were changing in downtown Ephrata and the new location had plenty of parking. Our customers seemed to like the new location,,” says Schilt.

It’s now been 30 years since Gehman Jewelers moved to Ephrata Commons, and both Schilt and Lyon think that was a good move. They have third and fourth generation customers who have built lasting relationships with Lyon, Schilt and their long-time employees.

Customers tell them how much it means to have jewelers that are genuine, trustworthy and have integrity. There aren’t many places where you can get a watch repaired, pearls restrung or grandma’s diamond reset in a more modern setting. On any given day, customers are in the shop for everything from getting a new watch battery to requesting a custom ring design.

“It’s very important to us to have contented customers, who wear their jewelry with pride. It has meaning for them,” says Lyon.

Since Schilt took over management of Gehman Jewelers, she has honored her parents’ traditions, but with a new twist. She attends jewelry shows in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas to keep up with all the latest trends, like the return of rose gold in jewelry.

She looks for a full selection of jewelry styles that offer a wide range of designs and prices. There are classic styles, as well as more contemporary styles. Fine jewelry includes Add-A-Gem, Dabakarov, I Reiss, Imperial Pearls, Encore, Philip Gavriel and Artistry. Engagement and wedding rings include Art Carved, Caro and Sylvie. Watches include Citizen, Pulsar, Seiko, Skagen and Zepplin. Then there is a vast array of fashion jewelry by Aagard, Le Stage, Freida Rothman, Ti Sento and many more. They also have clocks, music boxes, crystal and baby gifts.

“We want to accommodate all budgets,” says Schilt, adding that many customers are pleased to know that they can get expert repairs and service for watches, rings, necklaces and other pieces, with friendly, helpful service.

Gehman Jewelers has been in the same family for 50 years and there are times when you might find three generations at the store. As Lyon says, “Our goal has always been to be your family jeweler.”

Located at 463 North Reading Road in Ephrata, Gehman Jewelers hours are Monday from 9 a.m.- 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday- Thursday from 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m.- 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.

One Comment

  1. Diamond Earrings

    October 21, 2016 at 6:34 am

    Fantastic news!

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