Owner and President of Nelson Jewelers, Jeff Nelson, has spent decades in the jewelry business, and recalls the transition from mechanical to electronic watches in the industry.
In his possession is one of the first electronic watches to appear in his store—a 1963 Bulova Accutron that emits a low hum from the tuning fork inside, used to keep time.
While the industry constantly changes, Nelson Jewelers remains a mainstay of the Brownsburg area, celebrating its 60 anniversary this year.
Nelson will have worked in the shop for 56 years, originally sweeping up the sidewalk and washing windows as a young boy to earn money to buy tickets to the movies or the latest model airplane at the local Five and Dime.
The shop was located across the street from its present location at the time and was primarily a watch repair store.
The creation of electronic watches forced Jeff’s father, Philip Nelson, to go back to school at the American Gemological Institute in California and repurpose the shop as a jewelry store.
In 1976, their new slogan was formed, “A little out of the way, very much out of the ordinary.”
“That phrase was born because we had things that were different…you didn’t find things like what we had here,” Jeff said. “Today, you can come see us, we can make a drawing, hand-carve the model and make something truly yours, no one else’s.”
Jeff too became certified by the American Gemological Institute, and purchased the business from his parents in 1998, adding custom-made jewelry to a shop heavily focused on alteration.
“We aren’t trying to copy anyone, and we’re not necessarily trying to do what everyone else is doing,” designer Julie Baker said. “We try to think outside the box more…The majority of our things you won’t find anywhere else.”
Jeff’s pursuit to create “timeless” pieces of jewelry has drawn in customers spanning three generations. However, Nelson Jewelers has not only provided its business but also its services to help those within the community.
Jeff and Ginger Nelson are active contributors to Habit of the Heart, an organization that raises money for women and children in need in Hendricks County.
Ginger is the current chair for Habit of the Heart, which is comprised of all volunteers, and has donated everything from beds and wheelchairs to vouchers for children to buy new shoes.
Every year, the group hosts either a gala or Lady’s Luncheon and Purse Auction as a fundraiser. Collectively, the two events raise more than $100,000.
This year, the purse auction will be Sept. 29 at the Country Club in Indianapolis.
Committee and community members will donate purses filled with scarves and jewelry for the event. Attendees will then have the chance to bid on them in a silent auction.
Nelson Jewelers donates a diamond necklace for bidding at the gala and other pieces for auction at the Lady’s Purse Luncheon.
“That has kind of been the signature piece at Habit of the Heart when we have our fundraisers,” said Habit of the Heart chair Tammy Hession. “Nelson Jewelers is the one that has always done that, and it’s become a very special part of our event.”
Jeff and Ginger Nelson’s involvement in the community upholds Jeff’s single key to owning a successful business, “caring.”
“Caring about my customers, caring about our coworkers, caring about all kinds of people.”
Story by Adam Pannel