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Store started by diamond cutter DeVries enters second century

Fourth generation now active in MI business

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan - Diamonds are durable, and obviously so is 100-year old DeVries Jewelry Store, a business started by Dutch immigrant diamond cutter Siebren DeVries and his wife Cornelia. The family-owned store has been on Leonard St. NW. for all of those years and now is run by the founder’s grandson Dennis DeVries. Fourth generation family members Dan and Dave, sons of Dennis, also work at the store.

Siebren DeVries who was taught the trade before emigrating to the U.S.A., soon gained reputation as a expert in diamonds and precious metals, and only sold ‘the best quality and value’. As a master jeweler, he built the business from the ground up. In 1921, his wife continued the business after Siebren died. Gerald, the couple’s son, joined the store in the 1930s. Dennis succeeded his father in 1987.

The store is at its third location on Leonard (it was started on 128, then moved to 423 and now has been for decades at number 411) although many other neighbouring businesses over the decades moved with their customers to the suburbs. Since the location is near an U.S. 131 Hwy access, people from a wider area easily can reach the downtown store which has helped its staying power.

DeVries offers the latest trends in design and product for wear but shies away from promoting jewelry as an investment. “Prices fluctuate so much,” according to DeVries, adding that it is better to buy a piece of jewelry “because you like it and will wear it.”

At a century-old business it is understandable that there are customers who have been patronizing the store for a long time. When high school graduates drop in to buy a class ring, it is very likely they will be back for an engagement diamond and wedding band. Chances are that their parents once dropped in for the same reason years earlier.

DeVries certainly does not set a record in the industry. Some of its suppliers, like South African Diamonds (founded in 1872) are significantly older.