New Yorkers generally avoid Times Square like the plague. But customers of Martinique Jewelers on 7th Avenue brave the hordes of tourists to buy Pandora charms and other baubles for their loved ones.
An ordinary Thursday afternoon finds Alan Tobias, Martinique’s owner, sitting at a counter in the small shop with his father and son. The business has been in operation since the 1960s. Back then it was one of the only jewelry stores in Times Square. The World’s Fair was in town and the neighborhood was “pretty clean cut,” said Tobias.
“It was tougher in the 70s, but then it got better in the 90s. We were here for the good times and survived through the bad times,” he said.
Martinique rolled with the punches, upgrading its selection whenever it could, and suiting the needs of buyers. Looking around now at the chintzy souvenir shops and corporate chains in the area, it’s a wonder that such a family run fine jewelry store is still going strong. But on second thought, it’s obvious that its small scale is precisely the reason why.
“As a third-generation mom-and-pop store, we’re able to give customers more attention than they would get at a department store counter,” said Tobias.
Pandora: Wearing Memories on Your Wrists
The personalized help is good for women shopping for themselves, but crucial for boyfriends and husbands. Furthermore, Pandora bracelets, which are the store’s top attraction, are what Tobias consider a fail-proof gift.
“The fun part is that you get to add to it over the years,” he said. “It’s very popular with men because they’ll know what to buy [later on]. They’re not walking around stunned.”
Pandora bracelets are fully customizable build-it-yourself pieces. The process begins with a metal, leather, or cord bracelet sized to the wearer’s wrist. Then, a few charms are selected to jumpstart the collection. As anniversaries, graduations, new jobs, and travels come and go, the owner of the bracelet will choose new charms to commemorate each event.
With over 600 charms at a variety of price points ($35-$700 each) and more designs coming into production each year, there are as many ways to build a bracelet as there are unique personalities.
Pandora appeals to both young and old, said Tobias.
“The older generation remembers charm bracelets from the 60s and 70s,” said Tobias, and younger fans gravitate to Pandora to express one’s individuality.
Charriol: Bold Yet Sophisticated
Martinique carries a lesser-known but thoroughly impressive fine jewelry brand Charriol. Founded by former Cartier president Philippe Charriol with ALOR’s Jack and Sandy Zemer, the look is inspired by the ancient Celts. 18 karat gold and twisted stainless steel cable in grey, gold, black, and bronze form the base of the bracelets for both men and women—the designs are strong enough for men yet elegant and understated enough for women.
There are only a handful of Charriol sellers in the city. Tobias plans to expand his Charriol collection soon.
Wedding Sets and Jewelry Repairs
Besides Pandora and Charriol, Martinique carries a sizable selection of wedding and engagement rings. Artcarved is a standout brand, with flourishing and lively carving in gold and silver. Because of limited availability, Martinique orders the products by customer inquiry.
Martinique also offers jewelry repair services with a 1-day turnaround. If a piece of jewelry or a watch is dropped off in the morning, it can be picked up the next afternoon.
“For someone to go to you for a repair—of an heirloom or something with emotional value—they really have to trust you,” said Tobias.
Martinique Jewelers is located at 750 Seventh Ave between 49th and 50th. For more information, visit www.martiniquejewelers.com