Hamilton Jewelers, Longtime Princeton Mainstay, Welcomes Fourth Generation to Family Business
FAMILY TRADITION: “I wanted to be part of the family’s legacy and the company’s legacy. It means everything. I am so proud to be here and to be able to learn from my grandfather and father, and the best people in the industry.” Andrew Siegel (right), shown with his grandfather Martin Siegel (center) and father Hank Siegel, represents the fourth generation of the Siegel family to be part of Hamilton Jewelers’ operation.
By Jean Stratton
Hamilton Jewelers is a Princeton treasure. A longtime Princeton establishment, it opened its doors here in 1986. Its history extends well beyond that date, however.
Founded in 1912 in Trenton, it was purchased by Irving Siegel in 1927. He laid the foundation on which his son Martin, and later his grandson Hank, built the thriving business that Hamilton has become today.
Irving Siegel’s commitment to excellence continued when Irving’s son Martin joined his father in 1955, bringing his own insight and business skill to broaden the merchandise assortment and open additional locations in the market.
In 1982, Hank, currently president and CEO, joined Hamilton, and contributed his own expertise to enhance the Hamilton brand, raise the bar in every aspect of the business, and expand the Hamilton signature to a broader audience.
In addition to its Princeton location, there are Hamilton Jewelers stores in Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Now, Hank’s son Andrew Siegel is the fourth generation of the Siegel family to become part of the business. Joining the firm in June 2017, he is director of business strategy and operations.
In fact, his history with the company dates to well before then. Born in Trenton, he grew up in Princeton and became familiar with the Hamilton operation at an early age. As he says, “We were always doing something at the store. I really started helping when I was in high school, working in the service department, learning about the repairs, etc.
“I loved the personal part and interacting with people. I enjoyed both working with the staff and with the customers.”
After graduating from Emory University, Siegel took a different path, and for seven years worked for the Alexander Group, a revenue growth consulting firm specializing in sales effectiveness and business strategy. Headquartered in Atlanta, the company has Fortune 500 clients around the world. While there, he worked with more than 40 clients to grow revenue through various projects that improved the way companies serve their customers.
He traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad, and as he observes, “I loved the prospect of going to all the different companies in one job. Every two to six months, I’d see a different company and different industry. Everything from retail to medical, pharmaceutical, insurance to missile defense. It was a challenge, but a challenge I gladly accepted. I have always loved taking on a new challenge.”
Then after seven years, it became time for a new challenge. As much as he enjoyed the Alexander Group experience, he decided it was time to come “home.”
“I got to the point, seven years in, when I felt I had gathered the experience and knowledge, and it was time for something new. I knew I wanted to come back. My family was all here, and many strings were tugging me back in a positive way.
“I made my case to my father and told him I was ready to take on my role in the family business, and my hope was to bring my experience from the outside world here.”
As director of business strategy and operations, Siegel is involved in many aspects of the business, he explains. In particular, he will provide analytical and strategic insights to encourage innovation and growth opportunities, as well as assist in achieving established Hamilton company-wide business objectives across all areas of the organization.
“There are three main categories I’m involved in,” he points out. “One is strategic planning. Where do we need to go and how do we get there? Two, general business management, and doing the day-to-day business management with my father; and three, processing improvements — that is, finding the means to make it easier and more efficient for our clients and our employees. We want to offer the very best shopping experience for our clients.”
Hamilton is a special place, he believes: one that established a respected reputation over many years. It is also a happy business to be in! “We celebrate milestones here — engagements, weddings, anniversaries, etc. We’re a family here at Hamilton, and the staff will find opportunities both for personal and professional growth. We care so much about giving people a chance to spread their wings here.
“Many of the staff have been here since the beginning,” he continues. “We like to think that it is a nice mix of opportunities. People can establish themselves as true authorities in different areas. All our staff is knowledgeable in every area, but they have expertise in specific areas.
“Here’s our goal. You come into the store, you want the Hamilton knowledge and authority and a quality product. Then, when customers join the Hamilton family, it’s not just a transaction, it’s a true experience, with help from a professional expert in the field. You are taken care of for whatever you have come in for. The experience will be the same for any gift or any purchase for any occasion. We help you to find the perfect item, and we strive every day to earn your loyalty.”
The speed of technological change has — and is — affecting the way business is conducted around the world, and it has certainly had an impact on retail.
As Siegel points out, “In our business, it helps to actually see the product. But today, people want convenience, and they want to shop how they want to shop. Our job is to provide the best Hamilton experience no matter how clients shop. Business has to adapt.
“One of the things we have done is to set forth initiatives to help our staff and clients have easier online access. We are always upgrading our website, and we have created a new technology to improve the online shopping experience. With our online shopping, we offer the same knowledge and trust, the same experience and brand that you find when you are in the store. We have created a technology in which we actually have a live person speak to you when you visit our website.”
Indeed, Hamilton’s distinctive selection of quality jewelry, fine watches, and giftware attracts customers both in the store and online.
“We are a destination shopping experience,” points out Siegel. “We are always looking at the product offering, and while we always remain ‘classic,’ we continue to find new, fresh, and interesting items. We have styles for all tastes, and with a price range for your budget.”
He notes that watches are currently big sellers, as are engagement rings. “Watches have never been more popular. There is something about a fine timepiece. The craftsmanship is appreciated. We see the idea of lasting craftsmanship being appreciated even more today. Items that stand the test of time, and the appreciation of the artisans who are creating them. There is more of a desire for handmade items, and it is exciting to see this. Hamilton is unique because we have artisans on our staff. We have hand engravers, jewelers, watchmakers, and hand polishers on-site in the store.”
Siegel has a special of fondness for engagement rings (perhaps because he is now engaged himself). As he says, “My favorite interaction is the presentation of engagement rings. It’s such a happy experience. You are beginning your journey with us, and seeing the rings for the first time. It’s a way for us to start a real relationship with clients.
“Engagement rings are always a big part of the business, and the sourcing is important to people. They want to know that the piece came from a reputable place – where it was mined, where it was cut. Hamilton is certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC), an international organization. We were the first independent jeweler to be certified by RJC.”
He is excited about the upcoming remodel of the store scheduled for the next 18 months. It has already begun, and the emphasis will be on a beautiful new look throughout the entire store, which will also offer added convenience for customers.
The store’s long history and reputation are a source of great pride for Siegel, and he is grateful to the loyal clientele for their patronage over the years. “We have had generations of customers in the same family. Clients will come in and say ‘I bought something from your father or your grandfather.’ It’s a personal connection. It speaks to trust and the reputation we have built over 106 years.”
“I am also excited to see young people in their 20s come in and say ‘I want to get something nice, something special,” he said. “There is always an excitement in welcoming our clients, including the next generation of Hamilton clients.
“I am so proud of our legacy,” he continues. “My great-grandfather was able to see the business through the Depression. He adapted and sold other things in addition to jewelry, and he was always a consummate gentleman in business dealings. My grandfather and father continued to expand the business and built on the foundation Irving had provided. And now, I can be part of it.”
Siegel also points out the importance Hamilton has placed on community involvement and service. “We have always supported the community. You have to be part of the community. We not only work here, we live here. We support and contribute to more than 100 organizations.”
Over many years, the Siegel family has created an ongoing successful business, adapting to changing times, but always keeping quality and service their most important priority. And now Andrew Siegel, the fourth generation of the family, is ready to continue that impressive tradition.
“I am honored to join Hamilton and to preserve our unique attributes in the marketplace while helping us continue to innovate in a changing world, just as my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father have done before me. I look forward to carrying on our distinguishing characteristics of family-ownership and an uncompromising dedication to our 106-year-old core values of relationships, responsibility, expertise, integrity, distinctive service, and enduring value.”
For more information on Hamilton Jewelers, call (609) 683-4200. Website: www.hamiltonjewelers.com.