"Every piece of jewelry has a story behind it," says Chloe Fisher Bares of Fisher & Sons Jewelers (5101 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 504-885-4956; www.fishersonsjewelers.com). There's also a story behind the family-owned jewelry shop that she helps operate.
After training from the age of 18 with "old school" jewelers in New Orleans, Bares' father, Thomas Fisher, decided to open his own store.
"We (opened in) Metairie in 1977, and it's exactly what my dad wanted," Bares says. Her father and mother have since retired, leaving Bares and other members of the Fisher family to run the shop, but her father's values and business savvy are still alive at the store.
"I find that is what I've learned the most," Bares says. "Not so much to put out the bread-and- butter things, but to put out something that's a little edgy ... (something) that's a little different from the norm."
Bares uses a piece of jewelry she designed for a recent advertisement as an example.
"I put the opals in there, but I didn't just put opals, I put opal doublets," which are slices of opal layered with a clear or black backing, she says. A vibrant blue and green opal with a dark ironstone backing strengthens the colors of the gem and "makes such a difference to customers."
Deciding what pieces of jewelry to purchase for the store and to whom each piece would appeal are among Bares' day-to-day responsibilities.
"I want to buy for the graduate, then I also want to buy for the woman having her 40th wedding anniversary," she says. "You need a little bit of everything to make everybody happy."
Bares' knowledge of customers' preferences and personalities comes from the family-like community that Fisher & Sons Jewelers has created over the years.
"People feel very comfortable when you have a family jewelry store, because no one is a stranger," she says. "We're all family and we all treasure their jewelry as if it were ours. ... We just feel a connection to the community and I feel that they trust us in that way."
Bares gets just as much joy out of picking a beautiful piece to display at the store as she does selling it to the right customer.
"The merchandise is so personal to me," she says. "(The pieces are) my babies ... and I'm so excited when I've made a connection with people for a certain piece."
Bares says the main goal of the store is "living up to my dad's catchphrase, 'where the unusual is commonplace,'" and to watch the legacy of Fisher & Sons continue with new generations of customers.
"My millennials that we helped with engagement rings or wedding rings are now having kids, and now they're coming in to buy children's jewelry," she says. "When you're a family jewelry store, you don't go anywhere else."