Alicia’s Jewelers in Bay Terrace came from humble beginnings prior to becoming a neighborhood staple.
The jewelry business was opened at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center back in 1986, according to the store’s owner, Lena Briskin. Her then-husband, whom she met when she immigrated to the United States, came from a family of jewelers and watchmakers.
“When I met him here in New York about 35 or so years ago, I was doing mostly computer programming and analysis and I worked in the city,” Briskin said. “His dream was always to open his own shop and the opportunity came to Bay Terrace because at that time there was an existing shop there, a small jewelry store, which we purchased back in 1986.”
The shop was originally named Alicia’s Golden Dreams after their daughter, Alicia, and was eventually shortened to Alicia’s Jewelers. Briskin said that the idea for the name came from the dream of making something “beautiful, glittery and very special.”
Briskin recalled that the business began with her husband creating one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces due to the lack of modern technology.
“Basically, everything was by hand, a lot of handmade jewelry [and] a lot of different items. We always try to find one-of-a-kind pieces because our idea was always in mind to give something to a client or a customer that’s going to be unique, something [you’re] not going to see in the next store,” she said, adding that the jewelry was meant to be passed on through family generations.
Eventually, the store began carrying watches to accommodate customer demand and have a versatile selection of products. Briskin said they also expanded to include watch and jewelry repairs, gem appraisals and other one-stop-shop services.
“We always have on staff a skilled artisan jeweler and also a watchmaker that basically has a lot of experience in repairing and restoring timepieces,” she said.
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According to Briskin, COVID-19 and online shopping have proved to be two of the biggest challenges to the family business.
“I personally never believed in online shopping for jewelry. I think because jewelry is such a personal thing, it’s very important to have something that you try on, that you feel,” she said. “When you go online, you just click and with that click, there’s no romance. There’s no services and experience [online] that we can give you for free.”
The business owner told QNS that customers will get the best quality stones for their money purchasing jewelry in-store versus buying from online retailers.
She added that due to the in-person shopping experience, her sales associates are able to keep in touch with their clients and serve generations of families.
Briskin said that engagements and wedding rings continue to be Alicia’s biggest sellers year-round — not just during the holiday season. Popular brands that the store carries include Shy Creations, Le Vian and Pandora Jewelry.
She emphasized the importance of carrying family-owned brands in her store.
“We’re a family business, we’re looking towards working with family watch companies, family jewelers because I believe that when you work with these designers, you’re not a number there. They give you personal attention and that’s the same personal attention we give to our clients,” Briskin said.
Alicia’s Jewelers is located at 21119 26th Ave. at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. You can find them on Instagram (@alicias_jewelers).