Ava Jeweler co-owner Ava Edmonds demonstrates how she designs a piece of jewelry with manager Jess Bouffioux. (Photo: Jeff Barron/Eagle-Gazette)
LANCASTER – The jewelry business is a family affair for Ava Jewelers co-owner Ava Edmonds.
She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but learned the jewelry business at her parents’ store in Colorado. Her father was a military officer for 20 years and retired in Colorado at age 40.
“He’d always had a love for jewelry, so they opened their own store in Aspen, Colorado,” Edmonds said. “Then they ended up moving the store to Winter Park, Colorado, and that’s where they were for many, many years. And that’s where I worked with my mother and learned from her from working in that environment.”
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As a military child, Edmonds and her family lived all over the United States and lived overseas a couple of times. But she said she considers Ohio home now after meeting her husband, David Schmelzer in Colorado and moving here. Schmelzer also co-owns the business at 111 N. Broad St. and is a Lancaster native.
Edmonds does more than just sell jewelry. She also offers custom designing and repair services.
“Those are probably our two biggest draws,” Edmonds said. “Then thirdly, of course, we do carry jewelry that you don’t find locally in other stores because it’s a more every-man’s kind of jewelry. It’s not just diamonds and sapphires and rubies and expensive pearls. It’s more eclectic. A lot of art-driven, hand-crafted jewelry.”
Left to right – Ava Jewler manager Jess Bouffioux, co-owner Ava Edmonds and co-owner David Schmelzer. (Photo: Jeff Barron/Eagle-Gazette)
She said she helps customers form their vision for a particular piece, like a wedding ring or a piece of inherited jewelry.
“I help them envision and create an original piece or modified pieces that we already have to accommodate their needs,” Edmonds said. “The step-by-step process is a very visual process and a tactile process. We make sure that we bring in models of whatever we’ve designed so they can actually try it on and see it in three-dimensional form.”
Edmonds said functionality is also important when designing jewelry. She said the design must be comfortable, wearable and practical.
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Edmonds said her store is a destination place. It sits just off the Main and Broad street intersection and is not particularly easy to see. But she said that is not a problem.
“We’re lucky because a lot of the downtown events give us a lot of exposure because we’re right here in the hub of where most things happen,” Edmonds said. “Word of mouth has been a really great draw for us. In a way, for us that’s more ideal than just sitting in a mall store. I’d be standing in the store all day long just fielding questions and talking to people and being sociable and never getting any work done.”
Ava Jeweler’s has been at its location for 16 years and Edmonds said the downtown has grown in those years.
“I think it’s way more focused on creating a great environment in the downtown,” she said. “I think it’s brought the young people who want to live in the downtown. A lot of restaurants. It’s really moving back to the Main Street idea of commerce rather than big-box stores and malls, which seem to be dying across the country. It’s creates community again and people are seeing other.”
Edmonds said she sees that in her store when people run into friends and acquaintances and converse with each other.
“That kind of environment feels more comfortable than walking into a sterile store environment where a sales person’s trying to help you,” she said. “I think most of the people downtown are more skilled at what they’re doing.
“They’re more dedicated to what they’re doing because it’s really them representing them. We have more at risk here. We want to make sure that our customers our happy. We want to make sure they get good service so they tell their friends. That’s an important part of this type of business.”
Edmonds said her business is not just all about making money.
“That’s not enough for me to stay in business,” she said. “I want to be happy at what I do. I want to feel satisfied. I want that satisfaction. I want to make sure I’m doing what people need me to do. That’s the rewarding part of doing what I do.”
Away from work, Edmonds has been into yoga for several years and is becoming a certified teacher. That process will be finished in May. She said yoga helps her stay grounded and physically fit.
“It’s a really great place to sort of clear my head and forget about things for a while,” Edmonds said. “Because when I own a business it’s too easy to fret about all the details all the time because there are lots of details.”
Besides yoga, she said she’s also interested in music and poetry.
“I have a full and very happy social life,” Edmonds said.
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