A Story of Carats and Caring
By Lorna Oppedisano | Photography by Mary Grace Photography
Dan Welch, owner of Welch & Co. Jewelers, has been in the industry for more than three decades. He’s held every position from salesman to buyer to jeweler. He’s helped countless couples find their perfect rings and family members pick out the best gifts. It’s a job he loves — and one he entered by pure coincidence.
“It was an accident,” Dan said with a laugh.
The North Syracuse native had been in retail since he was 16 and wanted a change. He just didn’t quite know what that change would be. A friend who worked for Kay Jewelers insisted Dan fill out an application at the jewelry chain. Dan did, though he had no real intention of entering the field. He got the job and has been hooked ever since.
“I enjoy it. Every day is a little different from the previous day,” he said. “You meet a ton of people, and you meet people at some of the happiest times in their lives.”
After starting his career with 10 years at Kay Jewelers, he spent a year selling jewelry wholesale on the road. It wasn’t a good fit, Dan remembered. He then accepted a job in the jewelry department at Ra-Lin. He worked there for five years, running the department and as a buyer.
Being a buyer was a new experience for him. It introduced him to the relationship-building aspect of the industry, which he found interesting. It also helped him gain strong connections in the business.
Dan eventually began to wish he’d entered the business as a jeweler, the one aspect of jewelry in which he hadn’t yet dabbled. Then, when a car accident took him out of work for a year, he got the chance to learn. He asked a fellow jeweler to teach him and they eventually went into business together.
“That’s when you really get to know jewelry,” Dan said.
The duo started by repairing, fixing and customizing jewelry for 15 jewelry stores. Before long, they even opened their own showroom, in addition to the repair business, which Dan kept when the two parted ways.
Then, in 2008, Dan was faced with huge challenges. When economic hardship hit most of the country, the jewelry industry changed. To adapt, Dan added gold buying to the shop’s offering. Buying scrap gold helped fill the void the Great Recession had created. The new addition eventually spawned an estate business, too, Dan said.
A business decision Dan had made the year before helped the business stay afloat, as well. He had made the leap from renting space to buying the shop’s current location at 513 S. Main St. in North Syracuse. The move gave Welch & Co. much more visibility, Dan said.
“It’s the best thing that could have happened, though, because I believe that if we hadn’t done that, we couldn’t have survived,” he said.
Over the years, Dan has stayed ahead of the curve, making sure to set trends rather than follow them. He and his team read trade magazines and attend a yearly trade show in Las Vegas, one of the largest in the industry.
“Even today, because the business is constantly changing, you’re constantly reinventing yourself to go with the business,” he said.
As Dan has grown his business, he’s made a conscious effort to continually give back to his community. Having grown up in the same area that now supports Welch & Co., community is important to him. He has sponsored and donated to a number of organizations and events, including A Cause to Celebrate, Vera House, Make-A-Wish Central New York, Holy Cross School, Francis House and St. Rose of Lima Church.
“That’s part of being in a community and being part of it,” Dan said.
He also makes a point of staying in touch with past customers. Most even have his cell phone number. Additionally, Welch & Co. offers a “red carpet” wedding day to those brides who purchase their engagement ring and wedding bands from them. Any given weekend, anywhere from six to 10 pieces of jewelry are on loan to brides to accessorize their gowns, Dan said. It’s a tradition that’s been going strong for about 15 years, bringing Welch & Co. Jewelry everywhere from Las Vegas to Florida.
Though he’s been in the business since 1980, Dan still loves every aspect of it. It’s rewarding, he said.
“I want to see that smile on your face when you look at that ring that we made for you,” Dan said. SWM
Welch & Co. Jewelers is located at 513 S. Main St. in North Syracuse. For more information, visit welchjewelers.com.