The Family Jewels

The Udells certainly epitomize the meaning of family business, and it’s their history, success, and dedication that led to these impressive partnerships. “My brother, Scott, and I grew up in the store, literally,” Randi says. “We’d come in after school, on holidays. We would have dinner here. It (jewelry) is our whole family’s passion. We live, eat, and breathe this business.” All members of the three generations are accounted for daily at one of the five London locations—Glen Cove, Americana Manhasset, Wheatley, East Hampton and Southampton—including Fran and Mayer Udell, ages 90 and 92, respectively. “Every day, my grandfather and dad grab breakfast together at 7 a.m. before they open the store,” says Randi. CEO Mark Udell runs the financial side of the business along with his counterpart/wife Candy, who handles the creative aspects, like store planning, advertising, and buying, responsibilites she shares with Randi. Grandfather Mayer, who sold his sweater factory in 1947 to buy the business from his father-in-law, does all the detailed hand engravings for London Jewelers, and Scott Udell, Randi’s brother, is the family’s first gemologist, who purchases the diamonds and handles the bridal business for all the stores. Scott’s wife Jessica handles the David Yurman business while juggling IT tasks. And Zach Udell, Mark’s nephew, oversees all the watch brands. “My grandma also comes to work every day at the young age of 90,” Randi says. “We all wear different hats in this business, and we come together as a family.”

Indeed, London Jewelers is not the stuffy, uppity environment one would expect from a luxury jewelry store. Rather, it is as homey as it is upscale. In the flagship Americana Manhasset store, the 15,000 square feet of space allows for openness, yet every nook and cranny is carefully considered with cases, woodwork, shadow boxes, and statement relics, such as an 1870 hand-engraved steel safe. Natural light pours through the floor-to-ceiling windows and just about everything is custom made, including the wood paneling, carpet, and chairs.

The flagship store boasts the jewelry and diamond salons, watch salon, a gift gallery with a espresso and wine bar, a flat-screen television surrounded by sofas and chairs and a masculine 96-square-foot walk-in cigar humidor that juxtaposes the feminine curves of the cases and circular flow of the store’s layout. “Between the watches and the cigars, it’s like a man’s heaven,” Randi says. “When the women are jewelry shopping, the men can relax, watch TV.” A chef prepares delectable goodies, and even Candy bakes homemade cakes and treats for the customers.

Even the furriest friends are allowed to mingle inside London. At any given time, shoppers can find one or all of the family’s four little white dogs—Bailey, Chloe, Harley, and Zoey—napping or scampering around the store.  “We want the customers to feel like it’s their own home,” says Randi. “There are so many jewelry stores that are so corporate, cold and intimidating. We have items that range from $50 to $1 million. We don’t discriminate from the big and small purchases. No matter how much you’re spending, we treat everybody like equals.”

While many Americans and companies are penny-pinching during this economic climate, business keeps booming at London Jewelers. “We have all the ingredients,” says the heiress to London Jewelers. “Our customer service, treating our clients with the utmost respect, and representing the brands with the utmost respect. It’s a combination of everything we do that makes us successful.” Indeed, London’s indelible mark in the jewelry world is as forever as diamonds.