Chris Munn gazes towards the ceiling as he drifts back to the day when he was but a little tyke sitting in the back of his parents’ car.
“I remember my dad pointing to this building and saying that’s where he wanted to open a store,” he said, referring to the structure located on Market Street in Lemoyne.
Munn reflects upon how a friend was instrumental in convincing his father Sheldon to abandon the restaurant business in Wilkes-Barre and open a jewelry store in Lemoyne.
“He always had an interest in jewelry and design,” Munn said.
After many conversations with a jeweler friend, Sheldon decided to take the leap and open Munn’s Diamond Gallery in that spot.
“He bent his ear long enough to finally convince him,” said Munn, who marvels at the fact that he’s now been in the business as long as his father. “Sheldon was here for 20 years, and now I’ve had it for 20.”
So, how did the Munns manage to survive 40 long years in a tough business? Take care of the customer and the business will take care of itself, Munn said.
“When a new customer comes into our store, I view them as having lifelong potential,” he said. “I value every customer, and I realize, for them to return, I have to earn their trust.”
We Can Make It
Munn’s retail space consists of several rooms, with dozens of display cases featuring wedding bands, anniversary rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and other items designed to add an exclamation point to a well put-together look.
“We divide our collection into fashion and bridal,” said Munn, adding that he always tries to find pieces that are unique and distinctive, with a wide range of prices. “People can come in and purchase a nice pair of earrings for $80, or something as stunning as this 18K, yellow-and-white gold, handmade pendant containing 108 round diamonds for $7,500.”
In recent years, Munn’s has experienced growth in made-to-order pieces, driven, in part, by technology.
“We’re doing much more customized work these days,” Munn said. “People come in with a Pinterest picture or an item they saw online and ask us if we can make it.”
Munn has little nostalgia for the days when he had to draw a design on paper, carve it by hand in wax, then make it into a mold.
“Today, we draw it on paper, then import that into computer software, which communicates with a 3-D printer to carve the wax with excruciating precision. Then that goes into a mold for casting,” Munn said. “The software comes at a price, but you can do 10 pieces a month.”
As a result, custom jewelry has come down in price relative to hand carving, since labor time has been reduced. Laser welding makes customizing jewelry easier, as well.
“The technology uses amplified light, rather than heat or flame to solder and fuse metal together,” said Munn.
Munn has witnessed his share of fashion trends over the years.
“Prior to 2006, we rarely carried silver,” he said. “When the price of gold went up to $1,900 an ounce, suddenly designers started making more silver. Designers you’d never heard of before became front and center.”
Gold has since come down in price, but silver has maintained its place in the world of jewelry fashion.
“Today, it is an accepted fine jewelry metal, where before it was relegated to turquoise and costume jewelry,” Munn said.
Judy Buszka began shopping at Munn’s after she moved to the area from that jewelry mecca known as New York City,
“I needed a jeweler and heard good things about Munn’s,” she said. “Sometimes, I worry about the smaller stores being a little intimidating, but I needed something repaired and everyone was so nice and friendly that I knew I would be coming back.”
Steve Mosey has been a Munn’s customer for about five years and likes the fact that he always has the opportunity to interact with the owner when he visits.
“I get personalized service and never feel as if I’m being pressured,” said the Lower Paxton Township resident, who has bought a variety of jewelry for his wife—from colored pearls to diamond pendants and earrings. “Chris’ selection is unique and, if my wife decides she doesn’t like something, she is free to exchange it for something else.”
For Munn, the business has been a fun ride, and he credits his staff for being by his side.
“People tend to stick with me,” he said.
The fact that he gets to talk with people and use his creativity is the icing on the cake.
“I like conversation to a fault and enjoy talking with people,” he said. “Over the counter is where I want to be—with customers, creating, designing, buying and sharing. Fortunately, that matched up with my dad entering into the business all those years ago.”
Munn’s Diamond Gallery is located at 1203 Market St., Lemoyne. For more information, call 717-761-8310 or visit or www.munns.net.