Award-winning C.B. Stark Jewelers celebrates its 45th year in business this weekend. C.B. Stark has been in its current home on the corner of Main Street and Union Street in Vineyard Haven since 1983.
A conversation with Cheryl Barbara “C.B.” Stark is a pleasure. She described how she arrived on the Island.
“I came to the Island for a jewelry making/teaching job in 1966. I was 19 years old and a student at The Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston studying jewelry and silver smithing. When I turned 20, I met some kids who had a leather shop that summer and we decided to open the Leather & Silver Shop in ’67 to ’68.
“At the time I was only here in the summer, and after the summer of ’68 I went to New York City, where I got a booth in the Diamond District. In the summer of ’69 I opened my own jewelry stall on the Vineyard, and when it got hot in NYC, I left to move here permanently in about 1970.
“To make ends meet I scalloped, chopped wood, waitressed, and even worked on building the Black Dog in 1970, as it was very seasonal back then. In June of ’72 Margery Meltzer became my apprentice, then a few years later a full-time partner, and on our 32nd anniversary we got married.”
Ms. Meltzer has worked primarily on the bench for 30 years doing repair work, creating new designs, and overseeing the store’s jewelry production.
To make it work in the 70’s, they stayed open year-round. Ms. Meltzer would stay in the store while Ms. Stark would go take on jobs that involved physical labor, something she enjoyed.
One of their most exciting orders at the time was for nine rings, three of each type, used in an early scene of “Jaws” that showed a lady’s hand sticking out of the sand.
C.B. Stark Jewelers is now into its fourth generation of customers and has an additional store in Edgartown. To ensure their growth and survival, Ms. Stark says they have had to keep up with the times.
“We started the charm thing on the Island. To help us as we grew, we also hired some amazing full-time, year-round staff, all of whom have been with us for over 10 years each, which equals a lot of years of experience available at our stores. We have jeweler Jeff Regan, who works in platinum [and does] custom work and restoration. Jennifer Foxlee, who has been with us full-time since 2004 and part-time since 2001, working both the sales floor and the bench. Sarah York is our store manager who has been with us since 2002.”
Ms. York described C.B. Stark’s current approach. “We are a full-service jewelry store that has the ability to do just about everything in-store…We will even clean jewelry and check stones at no charge. We help with battery and watchstrap changes, along with having the ability to refit a piece of jewelry that no longer fits due to arthritis or an injury. One of our specialties is our Island-inspired jewelry, specifically the charms and beads that fit not only our own bracelet but that of Pandora as well. We also carry well-known designers, from high-end to everyday. Our prices range from $30 to $10,000, with a lot under $100, as we cater to all price points. In these economic times, we are really trying to be conscious about people’s budgets when making and buying pieces.”
Ms. York shared some exciting news. “We are coming out with a new collection in another month that is really special. We will also be coming out with new pieces all summer. We are using a lot of enameling, different metals, and sea glass, which is mainly found on Martha’s Vineyard. Instead of doing one celebration, we will be having a whole year of special events.”
Ms. Stark said, “We also believe in supporting the local artists as well, which is why we have such a large selection from Island artisans. Some of these artists are Stephanie Wolf with her Trilogy collection; Nettie Kent, Barbara and Tom Furino, along with Don Benefit, all work with wampum; Nancy Clark and Ann Marie Eddy, along with Jessica Hall, work with wrap bracelets.”
C.B. Stark Jewelers in Vineyard Haven is open year-round and can be reached at 508-693-2284. Their seasonal Edgartown Store at 27 North Water Street opens this weekend, and you may always shop them online at cbstark.com.