The Vineyard lost more than a local business owner on Jan. 2, 2017 — it lost Cheryl Stark, beloved founder of CB Stark Jewelers, an Island institution that dates back to 1966. Long-established shops leave a special sort of heart-shaped stamp on an Island like Martha’s Vineyard. And lucky for everyone, the business isn’t going anywhere, and neither has Cheryl’s spirit. Both run strong through her life and business partner, Margie Meltzer.
“I’m not the only person who misses Cheryl,” Margie said in an interview with The Times. “But no one misses her like I do.”
Margie and Cheryl met in June of 1972. Cheryl was six years into her business at its Water Street location in Vineyard Haven, and Margie was in college studying philosophy and had come the Island to rent a barn for the summer with friends.
“I’m a pretty intuitive person, but I had no idea I’d found the person I’d be spending the next 45 years with,” Margie said. “I was 23 years old at the time; how could I?”
They went into business together the year they met, and built the Island jewelry empire into what it is today.
“Cheryl was a very strong, charismatic, outgoing type of person,” Margie said. “She was always the front woman. I was more introverted and behind the scenes, working on details.”
It’s been five decades since CB Stark Jewelers opened, and business is still booming.
“My loss and CB Stark’s loss is huge, but we made sure the business would go on for years,” Margie said. “We made provisions so that after she and I both passed, the store would continue on. I’m not selling, I don’t have partners, and I never will. Cheryl and I were partners.”
CB Stark Jewelers has two locations on Martha’s Vineyard — one in Vineyard Haven, and one in Edgartown. Margie still has her hands in every aspect of the business, between working closely with general manager Sarah York, and coming up with new jewelry designs and displays. She also has a hand in their social media presence.
Margie has a full staff of seven dedicated employees, many of whom have been with CB Stark for more than 15 years.
“Cheryl built such a legacy here, that there wasn’t much that needed to be changed,” Sarah said. “That’s what she wanted. She wanted the business to continue strong, and it is.”
“I’ve been working in sales for over twenty years,” employee Cheyanne Vandall said. “And this is pretty much the top sales job you can have on the Island.”
“Ask anyone who works in fine jewelry,” Margie said, “It’s hard to explain, but we’re a family here. We value everyone’s ideas, and come up with them together. That’s just what jewelry is.”
Margie lives in their West Tisbury home on the land Cheryl bought ages ago. She winters at their home in Florida, and always looks out for signs from a beloved spirit that is very much alive.
“There were cardinals all over the bird feeder the night she passed,” Margie said. “I mean everywhere. It was just incredible. And then there are other things, personal things, wonderful things — but I’ll stick to the cardinals.”
Margie and Cheryl are proud of their dedicated employees. Meet the players of CB Stark:
Sarah York is the general manager and she entered the business when she was 19 years old. She worked for a large jewelry chain on Cape Cod, and realized she loved the business, but didn’t want to work for such a large corporation. In 2002, she moved her career across the water to CB Stark. She’s been with them for 15 years.
Jeff Regan began working with metal in high school and loved the prospect of turning rough raw materials into something beautiful. While he’s attended many goldsmithing workshops over the years, he is primarily self taught, and opened his own shop in 1991. In 2002, he joined CB Stark full time and year round, specializing in repairs, restorations, and custom jewelry.
Elysha Roberts was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, and has always had a knack for art, design, and jewelry making. She received a BFA in metalsmithing and jewelry from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She started working for CB Stark Jewelers in 2006 and became one of their full-time jewelers in 2013. She continues to be inspired by the company’s warm and personal work environment.
Chris Bergeron is the Edgartown store manager, and a 25-year veteran in jewelry sales. In 1990 he started working as an apprentice jeweler on Cape Cod, polishing and doing repair work. He came to Martha’s Vineyard in 2015 when CB Stark relocated and expanded its Edgartown location. He has commuted to the Island from Bourne ever since to be a part of a brand he believes is truly unique in the business.
Cheyanne Vandall started working for Cheryl and Margie in January of last year, and believes it’s one of the best year-round gigs you can have on the Island. She’s been working in sales for more than 20 years, and loves being a part of such an iconic jewelry business on Martha’s Vineyard.
Hellie Neumann has worked at CB Stark Jewelers for nine summers, and filling in during the offseason. She’s from California, but has spent every summer on Martha’s Vineyard since 1985. She’s also an acupuncturist, but says having a hand in style and “bejeweling people” fulfills a certain purpose that nothing else can.
Sharon Duncan-Sylvia met Cheryl almost 30 years ago, and had a feeling they’d be in business together someday. She worked in taxes, but when Cheryl asked her to do the bookkeeping for CB Stark over 20 years ago, Sharon knew it would be a perfect fit.