Behind every long-standing, successful jewelry store is a dynamic, hardworking family. Bailey’s Fine Jewelry is a great example of how a family-run business can have such a powerful legacy, with a truly inspiring backstory. This particular story all begins with Ann Bailey, or as most call her Mama Ann, who could have been consumed by sadness but persevered, turning tragedy into triumph–an orphan at the age of 8, a widow in her 30s with two young children. Meeting her in person at the jewelry store, now in her late 80s, she tells me, “don’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something! Women can do anything!” Very true, especially coming from someone who had bets placed against her, as soon as she became lone store owner in the early 60s, that she would fail. Boy, if they could see her now–the store that opened in 1948 which sold bicycles, records, fruit cakes and jewelry, amongst a few other things, now boasts five locations, has nearly 300 employees and is continuing to grow–minus the fruit cakes (now, thankfully exclusively selling jewelry).
I got a chance to spend the day at their Cameron Village location, a little slice of jewelry heaven, which had recently been expanded to include a more posh bridal area. Shiny white walls accentuate the sparkling diamonds of this section, with my favorite addition being the secluded room that allows blinds to be pulled for an ultra private experience. Aside from their bridal specialty, their large showroom (at nearly 11,000 square feet, the largest in North Carolina!) houses several designers like Temple St. Clair, David Yurman, Phillips House, John Hardy, Armenta, Elizabeth Locke and many more! Their repair shop is unlike anything I’ve seen–state-of-the-art equipment and two laser welders, along with a watch maker who is certified by Rolex. So many neat gadgets and tools back there, the inner-nerd for jewelry tools came out in me!
Bailey’s Fine Jewelry hosts a traveling trunk show each year of antique and estate jewelry, where two different antique experts come and showcase their inventory. I was honored to be a part of this year’s festivities during this occasion and spent hours admiring/trying on all the amazing pieces. My favorites included an enamel lion ring, a cat’s eye chrysoberyl cluster ring, a carved sapphire ring from the mid-1800s (carved with a crowned “M”), and a snake-wrapped carbuncle garnet ring. Favorites from the other seller included a large pink topaz navette ring, a boulder opal ring, and a lava cameo bracelet depicting some notable historic thinkers. It was great to meet a few local fans of Gem Gossip, as well as some long-time customers of Bailey’s.
A newly introduced, and very exciting, addition to Bailey’s Fine Jewelry at their Cameron Village location is a selection of antique and estate jewelry, with a dedicated area and custom made display cases. The concept has been a long-time in the making, with each piece hand-selected by Marci Bailey and Abby Reece. The duo have been traveling the country on treasure hunts and have curated quite the collection! Seen pictured above, the estate selection is housed in custom reproduction cases that were reminiscent of the display cases in their very first store. Each case is even more elegant than the last, with lots of wearable pieces at great prices. Some of my favorites from their permanent estate collection include: a star sapphire elongated ring that used to be a necklace clasp, a pink tourmaline and diamond floral ring, emerald and diamond double snake ring, the incredible Victorian citrine necklace seen worn above.
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