At Colville Jewelers we understand that it is very difficult to put a price on the repair of one's jewelry, that in many ways it would be the same as putting a price on a memory, or on love.
Over the years we have found that what is true for us is also true of our customers; that we as people have a relationship with our jewelry - that jewelry by its nature, the ways it is given, the memories it commemorates and events that a simple object like a ring can represent - makes the value of a piece of jewelry mean much more than the preciousness of its metals, cut of its gemstones or artistry of its construction.
The value of our jewelry lies in the memories we invest in it; we have found that rare is the piece that does not have a deeply personal story attached to it, which is why we approach every task of service, from the most minor chain repair to the resetting of one singular gemstone with respect, care, and diligence.
"These stories we are told, the relationship we have with our own personal jewelry - they grip our hearts."
Owner, Colville Jewelers
Peter Hallam, Goldsmith
Patient, perfectionist, and continually intrigued by the projects that come across his workbench, Peter Hallam is a person with an accomplished enthusiasm for his chosen profession. A goldsmith and Zayemopoulas’s right hand man at Colville Jewelers, Hallam started work at the shop over two years ago and has never looked back. Amiable and relaxed with customers, his knowledge and focus comes to bear with efficiency at his table, whether he’s designing a custom piece of jewelry or completing a repair.
“There is a huge amount of emotional attachment to jewelry, whether it’s a necklace passed down from a great-grandmother, or a pocket watch that was given to an elderly gentleman by his dad,” says Hallam. “My job offers two great parts to my life: it’s a creative outlet that allows me to express myself, but it also allows me to take care of people’s keepsakes, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
Hallam graduated from Colville High School in 1992 and moved to Wenatchee, where he happened upon a newspaper ad for an apprentice goldsmith at Colyar’s Jewelry. The store’s owner, Phil Colyar, became his mentor, and Hallam worked there for six years.
“I really enjoyed it and learned a lot,” Hallam recalls. “It’s inspiring to be around people who have a deep respect for what they do, and are instrumental in instilling that same drive in you.”
From there, Hallam went on to Jewelry Design Center in Spokane. He returned to Colville to raise his children in a rural, community-minded environment and be closer to family.
Hallam’s work experience comes into play almost every day when his extensive training melds with his emphasis on customer service.
“Whether we are replacing a watch battery, repairing the band on a ring, or setting a diamond, we place the same value and importance on it that the customer does, no matter the cost,” states Hallam.
Hallam has worked on plenty of memorable pieces over the years, so many that creating and repairing jewelry is not just a job, but also a passion that he is continually cultivating. There’s always room for growth and continuing education, says Hallam.
“Whether it’s silver, gold or platinum, or small gems, big gems, what have you, you are always learning something new,” Hallam states. “That should never stop. There’s never been a day where I have thought, ‘I have done it all.’ There’s always so much you can do.”
In Hallam’s viewpoint, the customer should have a gratifying experience as soon as they walk through the door, whether it’s a consultation, jewelry cleaning, or a purchase.
“Basically, we are here to serve people, and I think there’s a lot of responsibility and satisfaction in that.”
Andrew Kumor, Goldsmith
Andrew Kumor may have been the last person to join Colville Jewelers team, but he is hardly the least.
Having been with the business since Oct. 2013, the young husband and father from the Midwest is skillful at goldsmithing, and he makes no qualms about it. This belief isn’t from a place of arrogance, but an unpretentious self-assurance that he has found his niche.
“Goldsmithing holds my interest because it’s important to the people I serve, and I’m very good at it,” Kumor says. “I meet a need in the community, and it feels like a good contribution.”
Kumor grew up around gold and other precious metals working in his father’s jewelry store in Bellevue, Nebraska. His education in jewelry continued when he enrolled at the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology. He moved to Colville in 2013 with his wife and child to establish Red Bridge Farms, which specializes in organic fryer chickens and eggs.
However, his entrepreneurial interests have not swayed him from nurturing his talent, which is restoring and creating jewelry.
“My view on jewelry has become more open minded since working here, as far as the applications of it,” Kumor explains. “There are more ways to combine colors and shapes into the same piece, stack rings and bracelets, and make old pieces new again, than I had really considered before.”
Integrity is a principle that Kumor holds in high regard, and he feels that his workplace exemplifies that. Reliance, and the ability to deliver are not qualities to be taken lightly for Kumor.
“What I feel is important about my job is that others trust me to follow through with their order,” he says. “Here, people know that when we say that something will get done, it will get done very well, and most likely sooner than promised. I earn and keep my coworkers and customers trust.”
Bree Kjolseth, Service Specialist
Often times when people walk into Colville Jewelers, the first face they see is that of Bree Kjolseth’s. With a warm smile and an infectious energy, it’s not a challenge to see why she is the shop’s sales associate. She gives the impression that she genuinely cares when she asks, “How are you today?”
Born in California, raised in Idaho and a Colville Junior High graduate, Kjolseth has family in Colville and relishes time spent with her three-year-old daughter, Charlotte. She began working at Colville Jewelers in March 2013.
Though she brought extensive customer service skills to the table, having worked in retail in Spokane, she says that her introduction to the world of jewelry has changed her appreciation for the craft and what it means to people. Whether a piece has high monetary value or sentimental attachment, Kjolseth understands how jewelry speaks to everyone differently.
“It’s so unique and versatile,” she says. “You can convey your love with an engagement ring or an anniversary gift. You can express your own style with custom-made pieces that reflect who you are. You can restore family heirlooms. It goes beyond just something that’s beautiful, or nice to look at.”
Not only does Kjolseth take pleasure in being the first employee to greet customers as they walk in, but her cheering influence is felt around the store in terms of decoration, organizing displays and grouping the jewelry. She also does a majority of the ordering and occasionally implements new systems to keep the store organized and efficient.
“I’d like to think that the guys couldn’t run the store without me,” Kjolseth jokes good-naturedly. “But really, I am blessed to be working with such a great crew. And of course, working with beautiful jewelry every day will definitely keep a smile on any girl’s face.”
Andy Zayemopoulas, Owner
Andy Zayemopoulas’s last name is Greek, but his story is unquestionably American. Newly arrived in the United States at the age of 11, holding a job through high school and joining the Marine Corp to serve a tour in Vietnam, Zayemopoulas’s personal journey is one of dedication, hard work and perseverance. As the founder and owner of Colville Jewelers, he has crafted a small, unassuming shop on Colville’s Main Street into the premiere jewelry design and repair business in Stevens County. Modest and cordial in his demeanor, Zayemopoulas is almost the man who fades into the background at first meeting, but his deferential demeanor scratches the surface of an impressive history.
Born in a rural area south of Athens in Greece, Zayemopoulas was sent to live with his Uncle Andy in Aberdeen, WA. in 1955. His uncle had moved to the United States in 1906 to start a successful restaurant business that lasted for over 40 years, and Zayemopoulas’s parents were hopeful that he would experience the same kind of economic achievement.
“At that time, it was customary for a someone already established in the U.S. to bring a younger family member over as well,” says Zayemopoulas. ”It was only 11 years after the war (World War II) and six years after the Civil War. Greece was struggling to rebuild. My parents didn’t think there was much for me there. They wanted me to have opportunities.”
At only 11-years-old, Zayemopoulas was filled with trepidation and excitement at the prospect of moving away from everything he knew to live halfway across the world.
“I missed my parents, but I knew it was going to be an adventure,” he recalls. “Besides, Uncle Andy was there, and so were his five brothers that had moved to America with him. I had a familial sense of belonging.”
Not content to allow his nephew to confine himself to menial labor, Zayemopoulas’s uncle insisted that he go to school and learn to speak English, which presented a challenge at first, but Zayemopoulas maintains that public school was the best environment for him to learn the language.
“I felt a little alone at first, but that’s because I was the new kid,” Zayemopoulas says, smiling. “Phonetically, it (speaking English) was difficult, and I was confused about how you can get two different spellings out of two words that sound exactly the same, but then that was over 55 years ago, and I still don’t think I understand it.”
Four years after moving to Aberdeen, Zayemopoulas began work as a shop boy at Bryan’s Jewelers running errands, handling mailing and banking, and cleaning. Uncle Andy new the storeowner and Zayemopoulas would arrive almost every day after school and sometimes on the weekends. The job served as his introduction into the world of jewelry, as well as watch and clock repair. Zayemopoulas was intrigued by the mechanizations of clockwork, and the delicate but resolute maintenance that was performed on clocks and watches at the store. In a world that has become increasingly technical and digitized, clock repair is a dying art that lives on through Zayemopoulas and others that retain the knowledge.
“There was more emphasis on learning a trade then,” he says. “If you proved yourself a good worker and capable, your boss would become a mentor of sorts, and you could get an apprenticeship. It just seemed like a natural progression, and I wanted to work, so I was learning more, and becoming more confident in what I was doing.”
By the time he graduated from Weatherwax High School in 1964, Zayemopoulas had begun to dabble in precious metals at Bryan’s as well, learning to work with gold and silver.
Accomplishment in whatever he set his mind to seemed guaranteed for Zayemopoulas, but his Uncle Andy, the man who had served as his surrogate parent for the past several years, was not able to be as active in his nephew’s successes as he once was. A series of strokes left him with assorted health issues, and he was unable to attend Zayemopoulas’s graduation ceremony.
Reserved and unsentimental concerning his private life, Zayemopoulas does remember his Uncle Andy with admiration.
“He wasn’t educated, but he spoke several languages,” Zayemopoulas recalls. “He was instrumental in helping my family. He was proud of me...yes, he was a remarkable man.”
After graduation, Zayemopoulas enrolled in Grays Harbor College and was offered a job at Weisfield Jewelers, where he became more involved with the sales aspect of the business. He found he enjoyed working directly with customers and hearing their stories. He also developed the versatility to more of the jewelry repairs.
After completing two years at Grays Harbor College, Zayemopoulas came to a crossroad. He was unsure of where he should continue his education, or what his major would even be. At the time, the U.S. was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and Zayemopoulas felt an obligation to serve in the military. In 1966, at 21-years-old, he decided to join the Marine Corp. He was sent to Camp Pendleton in San Diego for basic training, which was shortened from the traditional 12 weeks to eight weeks, since combat troops were needed.
“It was quite different,” Zayemopoulas says of basic training. “A couple of my friends had joined right out of high school, so they were able to tell me what to expect, but until you go in, you don’t really know what it’s going to be like. It really didn’t bother me that much.”
After basic, Zayemopoulas was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, 2nd Battalion. He received a week off, then four weeks of additional training before being sent to the I Corps area in southern Vietnam, which stretched from Da Nang to the DMZ (Vietnam's Demilitarized Zone).
“It’s another part of the world that you don’t even know exists until you see it for yourself,” says Zayemopoulas thoughtfully. “But you learn quickly that if you use all your training you can really overcome a lot of obstacles. You just had to do all you could to make it through.”
Thoughts of home, family and friends helped maintain a sense of normalcy for Zayemopoulas and his fellow Marines for the next 13 months.
“We were young guys put in a situation…the image of the trained soldier who always has it together is really just an image. There are challenges all the time; always situations you had to deal with,” explains Zayemopoulas.
After his tour, Zayemopoulas returned to Camp Pendleton where he became a Drill Instructor. He was honorably discharged form the Marine Corp in 1969, and then got a job as a computer operator for a warehouse in Aberdeen. He worked there for three years while still keeping his contacts in the jewelry business and doing clock and watch repairs. From there he moved on to other independent jewelry stores and chain stores like the Bon Marche (now known as Macy’s) in malls. He was able to always hone and retain his knowledge of service and repair while learning management and more in-depth administrative details of running a business.
It was also during this time that Zayemopoulas met his wife of over 40 years, Ida. Not long after marrying the young couple began to have children.
“I was fortunate, because I had a lot of people in the business show me the right way to do things early on,” states Zayemopoulas, who purchased Colville Jewelers six years ago with his eldest son, Michael. “Independent stores especially are a good example, because their customer base rests on dedication and service. Service never goes out of style. It’s not a cliché; it’s the truth.”
Zayemopoulas moved to Ferry County so Ida could be closer to family in Inchelium. He actually had plans to retire, but it was a notion that didn’t hold.
“I like to work, I like to be useful,” he says, smiling. “It’s satisfying taking care of customer’s needs. You are here for them; you need to listen and find out what their needs are. It’s the reason we’re still here.”