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Michaels Jewelry Designs celebrates a milestone

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Seventy years ago, Marvin Zuckerman started a business that has grown into a legacy. The original store, Marvin’s Mart, started as one-stop-shop for gifts in 1949 and not only found success in its 50-plus years of existence, but created the foundation for a decades-long family business. Marvin’s son, Michael Zuckerman, brought his business, Michaels Jewelry Designs, to Rockville Centre in 2006. To show his appreciation for his customers’ loyalty, Michaels Jewelry is celebrating with special promotions through the end of the year.

“I want to honor 1949, when my dad started his dream to sell gifts and jewelry at an off price on the South Shore,” Michael said, “at a time when there was nothing like it around.”

According to Michael, his father started the store with $8,000 from wedding gift money, opening it as Marvin’s Mart, a store that offered a selection of pots, pans and various gift items. About a decade later, he became a gemologist, learned about fine jewelry and altered the brand.

“He changed the direction of the store away from gifts,” Michael said.

In 1972, the store name was changed to Marvin and Sons Fine Jewelry Watches and Gifts, to include sons Bob, Michael and Nat; later, Marvin’s daughter Jamie Young joined the business. For 57 years, Marvin and Sons had a thriving business in Cedarhurst, which Michael describes as being like “a supermarket” for jewelry, watches and gifts encompassing more than 5,000 square feet. At one point, the store had more than 100 employees, and at its peak, they sold more than 25 brands of watches. Marvin and Sons received national attention in late 2003 just after the store celebrated its 55th anniversary, when Marvin designed a gingerbread house with fine gems and designer jewelry from the store in a segment that appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Over the years, the store expanded and operated three locations, but ultimately, all stores were shut down and the original store was liquidated and closed on July 8, 2006.

 “When we closed our store in 2006, we were too big,” Zuckerman said, “and too big was doomed to fail.”

“It’s one of the saddest days for me, for them to leave this village,” said Cedarhurst Mayor Andrew Parise at the time of its closing. “To me as mayor of Cedarhurst, it’s just devastating.”

Marvin Zuckerman died on Aug. 12, 2014, at age 90, but his family will make sure his legacy lives on.

Michael grew up in the business, and helped the business grow. He opened Michaels Jewelry Designs at 28 N. Park Ave. in Rockville Centre months after Marvin and Sons closed, selling one-of-a-kind pieces that he designs. A graduate gemologist, Michael joined his father’s business after high school, deciding to put college on hold, instead opting to attend the Gem Institute of America in New York City. He began appraising, designing and selling jewelry, and said he felt so passionate about the business he continued to evolve.

“Once I began,” he said, “I was hooked.”

He tries to abide by his father’s philosophy, which was “to give the highest quality at the most affordable price.”

“The inventory was always second to none, given new designs with a great selection,” he said.

He believes his clients appreciate that, as he has had a consistent and loyal customer base throughout the years. He never charges to clean jewelry and will repair jewelry purchased from other stores.

“I love what I do, which is to be creative and help people on all ends, from purchasing gifts to dealing with estates, to the gemological work I do,” he said. “Our motto is ‘where every customer is treated like a precious gem.’ When a client comes in, whether we’re working with them on something that broke that we didn’t sell them or finding out what their likes or desires are, we really care about why they’re interested in fine jewelry. We take that special approach – any customer, whatever their needs are, they’re treated like a precious gem.”