Hamilton Jewelers has a storied past with a history that dates back to the very beginning in 1912 when the store was founded. Since then, it has remained in the hands of the same family and continued to grow each year. Today, you can find a few locations–Princeton, NJ and two Palm Beach, FL stores. I was lucky enough to visit their newest addition to the Hamilton legacy, H1912 (a shop just a few doors down from their main store) which opened in October of 2015. What makes H1912 so special is that it is a concept store, where they specialize in vintage and antique jewelry, watches and designer pieces. I knew I was in for a treat, as I was looking forward to seeing a store built on over 100 years of expertise, paired with a new vision for antique and vintage jewelry.
My trip started out with a flight from Nashville to Newark, followed by a one hour Uber ride into Princeton, NJ. As we entered the downtown area of Princeton, where both Hamilton Jewelers & H1912 are located, I instantly became an excited tourist as we passed by shops, restaurants and small crowds of people. The esteemed Princeton University sits in the middle of it all, and if you’re looking for a historic hotel to stay, the Nassau Inn was perfect! It is always fun to say you stayed at the same hotel as George Washington and Paul Revere. If you’d like to know more about things to do in Princeton and what we did, be sure to sign up for our newsletter as we like to update you with our Jewelry Road Trip experiences there too!
I was welcomed by Lea D’Onofrio, Store Director of H1912 who has been passionately involved in bringing new concepts and ideas to the new store. Customer service is an area that Lea and her team go above and beyond with everyday, even seen on my short visit there. Some unique aspects that set H1912 apart include having their own signature cold pressed juices from local favorite Tico’s that they give out to customers, which changes seasonally. The store also donates a percentage of sales every month to a local charity or organization–in the past they’ve donated to The Bag Project (supplies emergency bags to children in foster care or shelters), breast cancer awareness foundation, Send Hunger Packing Princeton, SAVE animal shelter and many others.
I had the privilege of meeting Anne Russell, Vice President and head buyer of both Hamilton Jewelers and H1912. Having an eye for jewelry and knowing what her clients are looking for comes second nature for Anne and worldwide buying trips are part of her job. I love seeing a store’s designer picks and merchandise, and I truly believe no one can duplicate a store and have it be successful; it all boils down to knowing your client, years and years of experience, geography and store concept. The selection at both Hamilton Jewelers & H1912 is truly unique and exceptional. I enjoyed getting a quick tour of Hamilton Jewelers and hopefully will get to feature them soon! I also had the honor of meeting and speaking with Martin Siegel, 2nd generation and current Chairman of the Hamilton legacy. Martin’s father Irving Siegel was the one who started it all back in 1912. Martin didn’t miss a beat when meeting me and wanting to learn all about what I do. We talked about his favorite pieces in the store (a garnet necklace circa 1841 that comes with original box) and some of his favorite memories selling jewelry. He may be in his mid 80s, but you would never guess from his quick wit and spunk.
Every jewelry case at H1912 is stocked with rare and unique pieces that have been found from all over and ultimately displayed beautifully at the store, ready for its next chapter. Every item is hand-picked and then carefully examined by a team of jewelers who make sure each piece is in excellent condition before it walks out the door. If a band needs channels rebuilt, stones tightened, or a final polish, H1912 has their staff of jewelers always there to assist in this important step of reselling vintage and antique (a step often overlooked in today’s realm of online sellers). The store also really enjoys repurposing brooches into more wearable pieces of jewelry–I even watched one of their jewelers working on a piece that took bracelet links and was turning them into earrings!
H1912 has an entire case dedicated to luxury, preowned watches like Rolex, Cartier, Audemars Piguet and many more–even a large selection of watch straps. Another case is composed entirely of vintage and antique engagement rings, like Art Deco diamonds, vintage clusters, some unique alternative bridal picks featuring colored gemstones. The first case on the right features designer pieces, many of which are highly sought after–lots of Tiffany & Co., David Yurman, Cartier, Bvlgari, Van Cleef & Arpels and more. The largest case has no particular theme, just LOTS of jewelry, displayed in curated themes which all play off one another. I also love the fact that the displays are handmade to fit the store’s aesthetic.
I had such a fun trip to Princeton, NJ to visit H1912, I’m so glad I got to spend the day with the amazing team behind the brand and see everything they have to offer, even behind the scenes too! If you’re ever in the Princeton area, you must stop by–and don’t forget to follow them virtually to keep up-to-date with new arrivals and lots of other fun news!
104 Nassau Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
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