Susan Bella Jewelry

Susan Bella Jewelry

By Nancy Moffett

To Susan Linski buying a fine piece of jewelry isn’t just a financial or aesthetic decision. It’s a celebration of love, new beginnings or “whatever life dishes out.” She thinks of her store at 1746 West Allen Street in Allentown as “our happy place.”

Susan Bella Jewelry had its beginnings as Lehigh Jewelers when Linski’s mom, Carol Kiser, bought the business in 1988. At the time, the store was located in the back of the Hotel Traylor at 15th and Hamilton Streets in Allentown. “I was 12 years old and in middle school,” Linski recalls. “I joke that I practically grew up in the back of the store. Some days after school, every day in the summer and every Saturday, I spent there. I always wanted to help and knew I wanted to be part of the business when I grew up.

Susan Bella Jewelry is much more than just a business to her. Her customers are like an extended family, and her relationships with them are much more than sales.

In 1994 Carol moved Lehigh Jewelers to its present Allen Street location. Linski continued working at the store during her college years at DeSales University, where she majored in Marketing and took courses in advertising, graphic design and photography. By working beside her mom, she says, “I learned so much from her, especially the importance of customer service and quality.” When Carol retired at the end of 2008, Linski remodeled the store to give it a comfortable atmosphere and changed the name to Susan Bella Jewelry for a more approachable, boutique feeling. Both mother and daughter felt it was time for change.

Linski explains her business philosophy as “properly understanding what it takes to operate a store I can be proud of. It is so important for me to be knowledgeable about all the parts of jewelry: how to design it, create it, repair it, give advice to sell it, maintain it, etc.,” she explains. However, Susan Bella Jewelry is much more than just a business to her. Her customers are like an extended family, and her relationships with them are much more than sales.

According to a review on weddingwire.com by a happy customer, “Susan was able to understand my taste and style with just a few key questions that revealed her experience and allowed her to work with my fiancé to design the perfect engagement ring. When it came time for bands, it was the same great experience. Susan came prepared with ideas and sketches. She asked thoughtful questions and worked with us to design beautiful bands that reflect our personalities. Her attention to detail and quality is impressive, and she goes out of her way to give everything a personal touch.”

Susan Bella’s team consists of three full-time employees (including 30-year master goldsmith Phil Gernerd who recently joined the jewelry store) and three part-time associates. Each has their own specialty, and all have extensive jewelry experience.

The lines the jewelry store carries are all high-quality, recognized brands: Doves (worn by celebrities such as  Catherine Zeta Jones, J-Lo, Rihanna and Michelle Obama, but attainable); Deakin & Francis (seventh-generation cufflink line from England); Pandora; Story; Sara Blaine; Mi Moneda; Officina Bernardi; Lori Bonn; I Reiss (made in Israel) and Bulova and Accutron watches. “We also carry unique fine and sterling silver jewelry and random pieces I find with various vendors,” Linski says. “I try to find unique jewelry that other stores don’t have, and I choose every piece in our cases.” She also notes that she has the largest selection of men’s jewelry in the Lehigh Valley.

Susan Bella Jewelry recently hosted Lori Bonn, the California designer whose offerings include “design-your-own” slide charm bracelets, necklaces and rings. Many women collect these “Bonn Bons” and enjoy meeting others who do. Events such as this are held for customers several times during the year, along with monthly jewelry appraisals (by appointment). Mi Moneda (“my coin” in Spanish) is one of her newest lines. This interchangeable jewelry was inspired by vintage coins. Choose a necklace, a coin holder and “Moneda” from many designs and materials, and you will have a very personal piece of jewelry that you can add to and change in years to come.

These well-known jewelry lines bring people into the store, Linski explains, and can be a gateway to the extensive custom jewelry she and her team make. From designing new pieces to making alternations to existing pieces, Linski creates the designs that are carried out by a custom carver and her goldsmith. “By getting to know the customer, the pieces tell me what they need to become,” she says.

This level of attention has gained Susan Bella Jewelry customers from as far away as New York City and Philadelphia. “Many people learn about us through word-of-mouth. They appreciate not only the quality and uniqueness of our jewelry, but also that our prices are less than they find in the big cities,” Linski explains. Customers also enjoy shopping in a comfortable atmosphere. She believes that buying jewelry should never be a stuffy experience. It should always be fun. If you visit, you may meet Asti and Olive, Linski’s friendly dogs, who add to the relaxed ambiance. “I strive to make the store your happy place where you always leave with a smile,” she says.

Her philosophy includes interactions with customers that are not sales-driven. “If someone isn’t sure about a piece, I tell them to go home and think about it,” she explains. “You should love every piece of jewelry you own and be able to wear it every day, whether with jeans or for dress-up.” After the sale, Linski urges customers to come back to have their jewelry checked and cleaned.

One of Linski’s goals is to design her own line of jewelry. “I do about five pieces a year and want to expand on that,” she says. Her other passion is supporting charitable causes in the Lehigh Valley. “I do fundraisers throughout the year for The Last Chance Ranch, Peaceable Kingdom, Good Shepherd Pediatric Unit, Community Services for Children, the Cancer Society and others,” she says. “It’s important to me to be involved and to give back to the community.” And, that community includes her loyal customers. Another reviewer says, “I can’t say enough about Susan and the staff at Susan Bella Jewelry. Her class and taste level shine through not only in the custom pieces she designed for us but all over her store. I already have a “wish list” started for holidays and anniversaries!”

Susan Bella Jewelry is located at 1746 West Allen Street in Allentown. Visit susanbellajewelry.com to learn more.

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