Q&A: Bellman Jewelers Owner David Bellman

Based in Manchester, Bellman’s is a high-quality jeweler that focuses on family and customer service
David Bellman

If there was ever a time to start a business, you want to do it when you’re young, because you have no responsibilities, basically,’ says David Bellman, owner of Bellman’s Jewelers in Manchester. (Courtesy photo)

Bellman, long a trusted name in the jewelry industry in New Hampshire and around the country, has its roots in David Bellman’s childhood. From first selling gold chains to his aunts out of a briefcase, to his first location in the back of an old Victorian building in the Queen City, to the store’s current location on Elm Street in Manchester, Bellman’s is a high-quality company and jeweler that focuses on family and customer service.

Q. How did you get into the jeweler’s business?

A. My father grew up in Boston, and he had a childhood friend that owned a jewelry store, and we would go see him. My father would buy pieces of jewelry and sometimes he would take me along. Of course, I was kind of fascinated by the whole thing; it got me interested.

But in 1977, before I graduated high school, my father passed away. It was a tough time. I had planned to go to college in California. My mother was a homemaker, and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving.

So I stayed, and went to what is now SNHU in Manchester.

I realized that what I was learning in my classes didn’t resonate with what I was learning in reality. I really wasn’t enthusiastic about it. But at the same time, I needed a part-time job while I was in college.

I spoke to my father’s friend in the jewelry business and he said, “Why don’t you come to Boston? I’ll introduce you to gold chain wholesalers in Boston who would sell to you as a dealer.” In the 1970s, gold chains were huge. Everybody was wearing everything gold, because gold was like $400 an ounce, whereas today it’s like $2,000. It wasn’t super-expensive and ladies just loved it.

I invested $2,500 and I bought a whole bunch of gold earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and put it in a briefcase and would go to my aunts’ houses and friend’s houses, and I would show them the gold, but I sold them at half the price.

If there was ever a time to start a business, you want to do it when you’re young, because you have no responsibilities, basically. You have little or no expenses compared to trying to start a business when you’re in your 30s and 40s. So I figured I would open my own jewelry store.

Q. Your son Alex also works with you as the company’s COO. What’s it like working with family?

A. We can go earlier than that, because my mom helped in the store. She worked here for many years as a jewelry salesperson. She had a fantastic personality and had a great rapport with her customers. Alex was also working in the store part-time his whole life from when he was little.

I allowed Alex to do ideas that he had.

I gave him enough rope to do what he wanted to do, and I’d say 90 percent of the time he was always right. He knew all the new social media marketing, which I could have never accomplished on my own. He really took the business to a whole new level. Our sales have increased maybe 250, 300 percent.

Q. How have you kept up with today’s trends and industry changes?

A. Even with all the different styles that we have in stock, 75 percent of all the engagement ring mounts that we sell are still custom-made. Before we would need to draw a picture out, give it to a guy who could do animation, and then you’d have to go through a casting process with a wax model to get the original ring. They used to make it out of metal first. It’s such a long process.

But now, with 3D printing, we can draw it on a computer. The manufacturer sends us the files now, and we’re printing like six or eight rings a day. And we can show rings now within 24 hours after drawings come in, with a wax model of what the ring will look like.

In the old days, people would come into the jewelry store and they would buy jewelry that was in the jewelry store. Today, you go on the internet, and you could be looking at rings for the next 24 days on Google. If we don’t have what customers want in stock, we’ll just duplicate it. The way technology is now, nothing’s limited.

Q. What’s next for Bellman’s?

A. We’d like to grow significantly more. We’ll continue to grow Alex’s success on TikTok and keep building that business. And maybe try to expand with a boutique as opposed to opening a second location. Philanthropy is also a big part of our business. I serve on a lot of different boards, and I want to keep helping in the community as well.

Categories: Q&A