Politely but with purpose, Helene Zadok steers her visitor toward the front entrance of her family’s signature jewelry store. “Look up,” she directs. “See the section of white paint above the door? That was the original width of our store – we had 1,200 square feet when we started in 1976 at this location. We now have 12,000 square feet. We started with two employees and one toddler son; we now have 45 employees and all three of our sons –each of whom is a graduate gemologist – work with us. Houston has been wonderful to us.”
On December 1, 2016, Zadok Master Jewelers marked its 40th anniversary with a party for their customers. The Zadoks – patriarch Dror, Helene, and their sons Jonathan, Segev and Gilad – celebrated by doing what made them successful in the first place: treating their customers as treasured guests while expertly assisting them with the purchase of fine jewelry, watches and crystal.
“From the beginning, our vision was to be neither elitist nor a bargain store, but to offer quality jewelry at great value in a non-pressure environment,” Helene says. “Our customers are guests who become our friends, and they run into their friends here all the time. I tell newcomers that you’re only a stranger once at Zadok’s. We may be a couture jeweler in a big, sophisticated city but we keep a down- home atmosphere.”
The Zadoks are the sixth and seventh generations of a family that served as royal court jewelers abroad. Helene, who is from New York, and Dror met and married in Jerusalem. In 1975, they moved to the United States to be close to Helene’s mother, who had become ill, and eventually settled in Houston where Dror’s sister lived. “My sister-in-law urged us to come,”Helene recounts.“ She said that Houston was doing well economically and was very welcoming to newcomers. It took us a year to find the right location, but she was right.”
Dror and Helene chose store space on Post Oak Boulevard, the gateway to the Galleria and an increasingly upscale retail and dining mecca in its own right. They opened with jewelry from Dror’s family’s business in Israel, worked hard, and were “in the black” after their rst year. The couple then purchased watch brands and advertised heavily to capture increased name recognition. When they discovered a lack of innovative design in wedding jewelry, they promoted new designers creating platinum engagement rings and wedding bands. By the 1980s, Zadok’s had a solid clientele.
In this family-owned store, “family” extends to the staff, the majority of whom have been with the Zadoks for many years. “Our sales associates know their customers’ tastes and remember the jewelry and timepieces they have purchased,” Helene says. “They can expertly advise them on new purchases that will suit them, as well as complement and enhance their existing pieces.”
A case in point occurred a few years ago when a customer came in to purchase a birthday present for his wife. “His regular salesperson was off that day, but he saw a piece of jewelry that he liked very much and purchased it,” Helene remembers, laughing. “As it turned out, there was a good reason he liked it so much; he had bought virtually the same piece of jewelry for his wife the year before. He came back a few days later to exchange it and jokingly told his regular salesperson, “It’s all your fault! If you’d been here when I came in the first time, you would have known that I’d already bought that piece.”
Zadok’s customers expect stylish pieces with classic lines that will stand the test of time. “I used to advise young men to build a jewelry wardrobe for their wives,” Helene says. “I still do, but I also give young women the same advice because they are making more self-purchases than ever before. I tell them to start with good basics, such as a pearl neck- lace and pearl earrings, diamond stud earrings, or gold hoops and a gold necklace, and then add more pieces over time. Fine jewelry is not just for special occasions and often costs less than designer costume jewelry.”
“Larger, more complicated watches are a strong trend for both men and women,” adds Jonathan Zadok. “Rose gold in all types of jewelry is popular, as are heavy, yellow gold link chokers. Other current trends include a mix of white, yellow and rose gold stackable bangle bracelets, chandelier earrings, and colored gemstones such as blue topaz and all colors of sapphires.”
The store’s customer base is local. However, given the internet, social media, and Houston’s international business ties, Zadok’s maintains a thriving international clientele as well. “We’ve sold jewelry on every continent except Antarctica,” Helene chuckles.
“One Englishman in the off- shore oil industry saw us on the internet and purchased a watch using our e-Commerce platform. We held it for him for several weeks until he arrived in Houston for that year’s annual Offshore Technology Conference. He had asked us not to send the watch because he wanted to personally meet the people who had been so nice to him throughout the long- distance purchase.”
Both generations of Zadoks uphold the tradition of providing professional and personal service to every person who enters the store. “We may share the same brands as another jeweler, but no one can duplicate our family and the commitment of our family and our dedicated staff to service and excellence,” Jonathan says. “Our customers want a pleasurable, comprehensive experience when they purchase something truly special. They also want to relive that experience as their life progresses and they celebrate milestones along the way. They can’t get that from the internet, but they can get it at Zadok’s Master Jewelers. As we like to say, “There are jewelry stores… and then there’s Zadok’s.”