The oldest retailer in Sonoma County has arrived in downtown St. Helena.
E.R. Sawyer Jewelers opened Dec. 3 at 1343 Main St., previously occupied by David’s Jewelers.
Owners Doug and Ame Van Dyke of Santa Rosa said they want the St. Helena store to be known as a warm, approachable business that’s involved in the community and offers amenities such as appraisals and in-house jewelry repair that appeal to locals as much as tourists.
“We’re approachable … and we carry product that’s approachable to all levels, not just an affluent tourist,” said Doug Van Dyke. “We really are locally minded and locally based.”
As for the community involvement, the Van Dykes like to focus on “things that involve families, women and children in need, and schools,” Ame Van Dyke said.
“At the other store (in Santa Rosa) we get 20 requests a day, and we try to fulfill them all in some way, shape or form,” she said.
E.R. Sawyer Jewelers was established in downtown Santa Rosa in 1879. Doug Van Dyke’s family acquired it in 1949, and it’s now the oldest retailer in Sonoma County.
“It survived the earthquakes and the wars and the depressions and all the other ups and downs,” he said.
The Van Dykes said jeweler David Clark contacted them about taking over his store in St. Helena. The space already had a use permit for a jewelry store, which allowed the Van Dykes to move in without applying for a new one.
They bought Clark’s lease and some of his old equipment, such as display cases and shop equipment, but the merchandise is all theirs – including the line of gold, silver and other metals shaped like “anatomically correct” leaves of grape varietals such as chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.
“We got leaves from some of our friends’ vineyards, and our goldsmiths duplicated all the veins,” Doug Van Dyke said.
“Our goal is to have two to three full-time goldsmiths here, the same as we do in Santa Rosa,” he added.
Since opening in St. Helena, the Van Dykes have done a lot of watch repairs. The Santa Rosa store is about 60 percent sales and 40 percent repair and custom work, and while it’s too early to guess what the ratio will be in St. Helena, the Van Dykes expect repair and service to be a major component of their business.
Ame Van Dyke invited people to visit the store.
“We have coffee, we have wine,” she said. “We like people to come in and say hello – it’s not all about the purchase.”