By Bob Balgemann
Starting a business can be a gamble because most new businesses don’t make it past the first year.
Bob Knox didn’t look at it that way.
Back in 1962, the master jeweler with the Georgia State University business degree launched Knox Jewelers with the support of his banker wife, Fran. His business has withstood the test of time, including the past 38 years at the same Sandy Springs location, 180 Allen Road NW.
Knox Jewelers always has focused on customer care and the repair and restoration of jewelry.
“Memories is what jewelry is,” Knox said. “Our job is to restore those memories. We do this day in and day out.”
The store sells a variety of jewelry, some of it handmade on benches behind the ground-level showroom.
“From the basics to the extraordinary,” Knox said. “Our customers want to see what they won’t see in the mall. So many dip out of one bucket; we’re dipping out of the world’s bucket — the Far East, all over Europe.”
He and his wife do much of the traveling and buying.
Knox Jewelers is a family affair. Bob, now 75, is in charge, and Fran runs the business side. One son, Greg, is the manager, and another son, Eddie, is a designer/artist with an emphasis on wildlife jewelry. An eagle he fashioned in 2002, called “Pride,” adorned a Christmas tree at the White House.
Eddie had a piece that sold at auction for $15,000 and is on display at the Marcus Institute. Other artwork can be seen at the Fernbank Museum. And the 49-year-old designed the turtles for the Sandy Springs Society’s fundraiser.
Greg, 47, started with the business at 15. He rose through the ranks, first as a polisher of gems, then as a designer and creator “on the bench,” then working with customers out front. As manager, for many years he oversaw the design and repair work the company did for 12 other jewelers in the Southeast.
He also spent a summer designing for Cartier in Paris.
“It’s the only business I’ve ever been in,” he said.
Another integral part of Knox Jewelers is designer David Richardson, who has been with the company almost since the beginning. He spends most of his time in the cavernous, creative space behind the showroom, a series of offices and rooms housing workbenches and the various machines needed to make and repair jewelry.
Greg said the company has a simple philosophy. “We’ve always been honest; we don’t try to represent something that it isn’t. That’s the only way people will trust you. We don’t play a smoke-and-mirrors game. We are who we are.”
“We are a destination store,” Bob said.
Another Knox generation, Greg’s 13-year-old son, Evan, could one day be part of the business.
“He comes in here and can do waxing,” Greg said. “He answers the phone.”
Evan is a well-rounded middle school student, playing football and singing with the choral group. He’s a church youth leader who serves the homeless and is involved with other projects.
“That is what life is all about,” Greg said. “Show the love.”
He added: “The company is the same way, always has been. You name it, and we’ve probably been involved in it.”
In May, Bob received the Sandy Springs Society’s Founders Award for “loyalty, dedication and generosity” to the group since its start in 1998.
Looking back on so many years of serving people, Bob said it all boils down to finding your niche.
“You can’t be all things to all people,” he said. “There’s just not enough time. Our niche was taking care of people’s treasures. It was from the very beginning.”
For those who’d like to start a business, Knox said it’s all about preparation.
“It was not a gamble,” he said. “I had enough outside customers to ensure that we would survive. I surrounded myself with knowledgeable people. It was a well-planned business move.”