Kimberly Adams Russell
Frank Adams Jewelers

You just opened your new store on Wolf Road in Albany. What made you decide to move from your previous location of 28 years?

We were ready to do something independently, to have our own free-standing location. This spot gave us everything we wanted. It was a vacant piece of land, so it enabled us an opportunity to build what we desired, from the ground up, and to create a plaza here. We wanted an outside courtyard so we could host events and do some charity components, which I think will be nice in the future. And we have the clock tower, which ties it all together.

How did you choose the current location?

When we started, we looked all over the Capital Region. We looked at a building next door, which led us to this space. This land was once a Lincoln car dealership. Prior to COVID, there was a restaurant slated to go here, but when COVID happened, the restaurant pulled out. It was during the COVID shutdown in 2020 that we took the opportunity, which was a risk because here are businesses closing, and I’m looking to make an agreement to build a new business. That was a little scary. But here we are!

We have a great business. We’re very lucky that we have very loyal customers. We offer great service here. I think we’re good for the community, and the community is good to us. It’s a good synergy.

Frank Adams has been in your family for four generations. How does it feel to continue a legacy? What are your goals for the future?

It’s exciting. I honestly never thought that I’d be where I am today. When I started working at Frank Adams in downtown Albany, in a little mom-and-pop store, it was lovely, but it was very different from where we are today. Shortly after I started working there, we made the decision to move. We knew we had to move on to be able to flourish to the next level. So we took an opening at Stuyvesant Plaza, which at the time was a big risk for my dad. He was used to being in downtown Albany. Going to a shopping center was not his belief at the time. But we moved, and my mom joined the business at that time, which was in 1995. That gave us a whole new customer base to tap into. We had a lot more women. A lot more fashion. The business took a real turn at that moment. It was a real shift. And the way that we marketed to people and the demographic that we were going after…it was successful for us as time went on. We continued to hire people and grow the business over the years.

Fast forward to when my son started to come into the business. During a conversation with Rolex, we discussed the difficulties today of trying to create a level of luxury in a plaza or a shopping mall. They encouraged us to find a free-standing place, which had always been a dream of mine. We knew our lease was going to be up in a few years, and that conversation was the push out of the nest, so to speak, to find something different. My son was all for making a move like this, which reminded me of how I felt about taking the step to move into Stuyvesant Plaza when I first began working with the business.

This store is 7,500 square feet and the other location was 3,400 square feet, so it’s about twice the size. We knew we wanted a diamond-showing room that had natural light. We wanted a private room so people can shop with privacy, which is something we were lacking in the other store. We added a lounge with seating. We have a bar with coffee and water and other beverages. Brands, like Rolex and David Yurman, were able to design and customize their space and counters, which has created an even more elevated experience.

Last Saturday was our first Saturday open, and I was literally crying. It was everything I envisioned. The bar was full, people were seating on the sofas, the lounge was full. People were just comfortable. We didn’t have a lot of seating at the other location, so people stood for the most part. We had one service area in the other location, which meant that the people who were paying for their purchases were at the same location as people dropping off and picking up repairs. I wanted to separate those two things. Now, our repair service area has a sit-down counter so we can take our time, and we hired a new professional to do that.

How do you stand out from your competition? What can people expect from Frank Adams Jewelers?

We just want people to feel really comfortable when they come here. That’s what we’re aiming for. We want people to feel like they’re in their home. That’s why we have the beverage bar and all of the seating and lots of natural light. We wanted to keep the décor harmonious.

I wouldn’t say our goal is necessarily to stand out from our competition. Our goal is just to service our customers the way they want to be serviced, and that’s by making them feel comfortable here and giving them the elevated customer service that I think people are searching for.

Who are some of your favorite jewelry designers and why?

I wear a lot of this one brand of jewelry that we carry here named Jade Trau. I find it to be like everyday jewelry, something you can dress up or dress down. She has a lot of layering going on. I’m able to create a lot of different layer stacks. I like that sort of designer.

I also have a lot of David Yurman. I’m a big fan. I feel like it’s all easy to wear and it all goes really well together.

I like all jewelry! [laughs]

How do you balance new, trendy jewelry with classic, timeless pieces?

I do that personally. We do it here in the store. All of our associates wear classic jewelry and trendy jewelry. I wear these classic diamond studs. The shape of my diamond ring is extremely traditional, an emerald cut. But then I have a stack of cool bracelets that I wear. I do a lot of layering. So I easily think you can mix and match trendy and classic very smoothly.

Please share a memorable story from your career.

I have shared so many special occasions with many special people, so it’s challenging to pick one special story. I think my favorite story happened when we were closed during the pandemic. A wonderful client wanted to purchase a special retirement gift for his wife. I shipped a ring that I knew she would love and we arranged a Zoom call presentation for her. Her husband and I presented the gift over Zoom at a time when we could not have a transaction in person. She was incredibly surprised and overwhelmed with emotion. It was a unique time and a unique story that will never be forgotten.

You offer watch repair, which can be hard to find these days. What makes watch repair so complicated? What inspires you to continue this service?

Finding someone who is trained in watch repair is really a lost art. It’s similar to a lot of industries — tailoring, jewelry repair, watch repair. The demand is extremely high. But it’s difficult to find people with that level of training. Our watchmaker came from the Rolex school. We went to the Rolex training school and met with some of the watchmaker candidates that were graduating. Our watchmaker has been here for eight years now. He’s extremely talented, very detail-oriented and works here full-time. Primarily he works on Rolex timepieces, but he’ll work on other fine timepieces as well.

It’s a great position for someone who is mechanically inclined to go into because the demand is so high. It’s an art form and it’s a really good profession. It’s a very specialized field.

How do you recommend your customers keep their jewelry in the best condition? What cleaning methods do you recommend?

I would take it to a professional. Not only will they clean it properly, but they will also check the diamonds and make sure that everything you’re wearing is safe. If you’re going to clean it at home, I would say just use a mild dish detergent or mild soap and warm water.

We do it here for a lot for people. It’s a free service, and we’re happy to do it.

How do you find trained professionals to work at Frank Adams? Do you hire them and train them yourself?

A little bit of both. It’s helpful to have people come in with some level of knowledge. I like to train people to do things the way I like them done, so sometimes getting someone with a lot of knowledge is helpful in one way but a hindrance in another because they might have habits that you have to break. It depends. We have to recruit from out of the area most of the time, usually from the jeweler schools that they graduate from. So it’s about having a relationship with those schools.

What is your advice for people shopping for engagement rings?

I definitely think they should shop at an independent store, whether that’s us or someone else locally. They need to feel good where they are, as opposed to shopping online. Our sales team has a crazy amount of knowledge that you just cannot get any other place than from a trained person. They offer a lot of education in diamonds, diamond buying, presentation, etc. So, if you can, definitely buy local. They can also help with anything down the road, like repairs or cleaning or polishing. You want to create a relationship. I think that’s the first step.

And then there are the choices you have to make. I always advise someone to purchase something that is classic and timeless. You can always make it trendier with different bands. You can add yellow metal to white or white metal to yellow. If you start with something simple and timeless, you’ll never tire of that.

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