Christian Jewelers - 390 Central Avenue, Jersey City
Business Owner: John WascoeJanuary 2008
The vertical JEWELERS sign at 390 Central Avenue is a familiar landmark for the many drivers and pedestrians who pass through the Avenue every day. But the business it advertises, Christian Jewelers, is a true Jersey City institution that has been serving the Heights since 1910. John Wascoe, one of the three business partners who bought the business from the Geiger family in 1975, got his start in jewelry when he started working as a messenger for another Central Avenue jeweler in 1963. He now runs the store full-time with Bill Sittmann, an employee who has been with the business for over 30 years.
Things have changed a lot since the Ritz Theater was Christian Jeweler’s next-door neighbor. Many of the store’s vendors have changed hands or gone out of business, and the items in demand have changed over time as new generations have moved into the neighborhood. Currently, John says that watches, Journey Diamonds, Past, Present and Future Diamonds, earrings, and jewelry made out of silver, white gold and platinum are the most popular items they sell. Sales go up and down with the economy, but after many years, the business has earned the trust of many loyal customers who come back to get heirlooms repaired as well as to make new purchases. John and Bill’s experience and expertise don’t hurt, either - Bill is skilled in engraving and jewelry repair, and John has completed training at the Gemological Institute of America and is a certified Diamond Master. “After being here so many years, we’ve seen people’s children grow up” John said. “It’s nice that they’re not just customers, they’re friends.”