Family Jewelers

Iconic Business January 2024: Family Jewelers

Photo above: Angelo Breaux, Jr. and Angelo Breaux, Sr.

Passing the torch through generations of jewelers

As Angelo Breaux, Jr. prepares to take over the leadership of his family business this month, he looks back at the generations of jewelers who have come before him – and forward, with plans of his own.

“We have been an integral part of the community for decades,” says Breaux, Jr., “and I plan to continue that tradition as we grow and evolve and serve our customers to the best of our ability.” 

A long family history

Family & Co. Jewelers was started in 1937 when Italian immigrant and skilled watchmaker, Angelo Calapristi, and his wife Louise opened a jewelry store – naming it Angelo’s Jewelry & Watches – in South Philadelphia. 

They brought their daughter Christine into the business along with her husband, retired Marine, Edwin Breaux, who continued the shop, renaming it Ed & Chris Jewelers. They moved the store and their family of six children to Marlton, where it opened on Sept. 3, 1971 (Christine’s birthday) at 65 East Route 70, where it has been ever since. Angelo Breaux, Sr., was next in line to run the business and renamed it Family & Co. Jewelers to better reflect the shop’s traditions. 

Angelo Breaux, Jr. continues the Family Jewelers tradition in the Marlton showroom

“I started there as an engraver when I was in high school and then majored in business and minored in jewelry work in college,” says Breaux, Jr. “After college, I continued to work full time in the store and trained to further learn jewelry design.”

Today, the 5th generation of the family (specifically Breaux, Sr.’s granddaughter Skylar) continues to provide the tradition of excellence begun so long ago. The shop has 11 staff in all.

“I will be taking over and my sister Jessica will continue to work here as a gemologist,” explains Breaux, Jr., a member of the 4th generation. “My father will remain with the company as a consultant on inventory and the website and more.” Breaux’s Aunt Louise recently retired after 30 years with the business.

Family & Co. Jewelers are not only a fixture in Marlton, they also are a mainstay for their many clients who have been coming to the shop for years. Many new customers are descendants of original clients from the 1970s who come in because they trust the jeweler who worked with their grandparents. “We have a lot of people who come to us because their parents and grandparents did, and who know we always do what’s best for our customers and our community,” says Breaux, Jr.

“People may have a family heirloom diamond that they want to do something with,” he continues. “We can remove the diamonds and create a new piece that they can enjoy for decades to come. They come in with an idea, and we help them customize something special, like the woman who took her mother’s engagement ring and her own, and we created one ring out of the main diamond from each.”

Master Jeweler Daniel Castro

Expanding with the times

The current 3,200-square-foot shop doubled in size about 20 years ago when the residents of the adjacent store moved out. Walls were knocked down to combine the two spaces and create a remodeled, expansive showroom and a large workroom. There, two master jewelers solder, set diamonds and other gemstones on a traditional jeweler’s bench where they also design, create and repair jewelry. All the work is done on-site. The three graduate gemologists attended the GIA, Gemological Institute of America, where they were trained in grading and identifying diamonds and in gemstone identification. 

Hi-tech, modern techniques such as CAD (computer-aided designs) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) allow Breaux, Jr. to create a life-sized model of the desired piece of jewelry in wax using a 3D printer. The computerized designs allow customers to see what their ideas will look like once molded and cast. 

“We talk to the customer and show them different styles to get an idea of what their personal style is, whether they want bold or dainty or modern or traditional,” Breaux, Jr. explains. “Then I create it on the computer and render images so they can get an idea of what it will look like.” The team likes to say, “If you can dream it, we can do it.”

Before the advent of CAD, jewelers would hand carve wax to get a representation of the design and then through the lost wax process create precious metal jewelry. This commitment to combining old-world craftsmanship with the latest in technology and quality, custom design and manufacturing has made Family Jewelers one of the top jewelers in the area.

Expert, creative engraving of words and designs are another of their specialties. Animals, floral patterns, family crests and logos are all designs they have engraved on jewelry and other personal items.

The leader in bridal jewelry designs

Family & Co. Jewelers focused on becoming a leader in bridal and engagement rings, and now are best known (and quite popular) as a bridal jeweler, with a large selection of diamond engagement rings and wedding bands. 

“We work with a number of high-end bridal designers, and have a large selection of GIA-certified diamonds,” says Breaux, Jr. “It’s not just us saying this is the color, clarity, cut and carat.”

One of the hottest items right now, and for about the last five years, are lab-grown diamonds, he adds. These diamonds have the same physical properties as diamonds that were mined from the earth, however, they are formed using a machine which grows and forms the precious gems. 

“The technology has been around for a long time, but it’s only more recently that they have been able to make gem-quality diamonds. There is absolutely nothing different between them, except how they are formed. We like to offer our customers choices and never pressure them one way or the other,” says Breaux, Jr.

What else is trending? Yellow gold – out of favor for a long time as Platinum and white gold took the lead in the bridal market – has become popular again. Settings, which also evolve over time, have returned to a simple and traditional style, while the pear shape and oval cut diamonds have increased in popularity.

Connecting to the community

In addition to being the go-to for a wide variety of precious items and services, including fine jewelry, custom-designed jewelry plus repairs and appraisals, Family & Co. Jewelers has become known as one of the community’s event sponsors and donors for a variety of nonprofits in the area. The largest is Operation Yellow Ribbon, which collects items for care packages sent to military personnel overseas. The store is a collection site for these items “in honor of my grandfather who was a Marine for 26 years. Our family has always been a strong supporter of the military,” explains Breaux, Jr. 

In addition, they support the Evesham Education Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and others. The family also donates gift baskets to area schools, churches and synagogues for fundraising events, a tradition begun by Edwin and Christine who had a strong belief in supporting the community.

“In our 86-year history, with third, fourth and fifth-generation family members working here, our real expansion began in 1971 when my parents, Edwin and Christine Breaux, had the foresight to recognize Marlton as a small town that was poised on the edge of growth,” says Breaux, Sr. “They fell in love with the history and feel of Marlton and just knew that Marlton was the place to move their growing jewelry business and family. They were absolutely right.”