Relationships: The Lustre of Tradition at Reliable Loan & Jewelry

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This is the first in our newest series, Strictly Business, featuring interviews with Raleigh’s many small business owners. Recently, we sat down with Alan Horwitz of Reliable Jewelry, who talked about the unique experiences and lasting relationships that come from running a generational jewelry business in the heart of downtown Raleigh. 

The most significant thing Alan Horwitz learned about the jewelry business wasn’t something he learned at his alma mater, the University of Alabama.  Or during the few years he spent working at jewelry stores in New York and Atlanta after graduating and then earning gemologist certification from the Gemological Institute of America.

Alan Horwitz

MJ Vieweg

Alan Horwitz

He learned it from his dad, Phillip.

As a young boy, Alan would sometimes accompany his father to work at Reliable Loan & Jewelry. “I used to run through the store, around the customers and play with things I wasn’t supposed to,” he admitted.  But when he got a little older his father, Phillip, had him helping out in the store.  “I wasn’t selling diamonds back then; I was doing grunt work,” he said.

All the while, though, Alan watched his dad.  He watched how Phillip interacted with the people that came into the store, noticed how his father listened to them talk about the jewelry they were looking for and why; listened as his dad respectfully guided and informed those making decisions to mark any number of special moments in their lives.

Alan realized that his dad treated people “right,” and early on, he began to emulate his Dad’s ways.

“If you treat people the right way; with respect and make them happy, offer them good deals, they will tell their friends who will then tell their friends and so on. These are lifelong relationships.

“In fact, I am now selling to the younger generation; the children of the customers that my dad served.  And that’s how my father built this business, its name and reputation, to what it is today — the place to go for jewelry,” he said.

Reliable Loan & Jewelry offers a variety of merchandise

MJ Vieweg

Reliable Loan & Jewelry offers a variety of merchandise

Alan says he still learns from his dad, even though they now work together in a more equal status.  “I still need his advice and I won’t hesitate to call on him. He’s shown me everything as far as running this business,” he said. “And, once in a while, he will ask me for advice.”

Working with fine diamonds and gemstones intrigues Alan, a certified gemologist. But beyond the appreciation of the beauty of any one stone, or piece of jewelry, what seems to be of even more value is the reaction of his customers when he can locate or help design the perfect piece.

“When I have helped someone find an engagement ring for his fiancé and they send me a picture of the ring on the finger — that’s a good feeling,” he said.

Though it seems more like a repositioning rather than relocation, Reliable Jewelry and Loan will move to a new location this summer to the corner of E. Davie and S. Wilmington.  “It’s a busy corner of downtown Raleigh.  There’s a lot of foot traffic here and the location will have office space and apartments, so there will be increased exposure.  The new store has a different floor plan and the space is three times as wide,” Alan said.

There have been opportunities before to expand to North Raleigh, but Alan said he wouldn’t feel right about moving out of the downtown area.  Part of the business is offering collateral loans, which is a service local residents are accustomed to using.

Reliable Loan & Jewelry

MJ Vieweg

Reliable Loan & Jewelry

“We have regular customers that come to us every week,” he said.

“People know where we are and are used to coming down here.  As a ‘generational’ business, I think it’s important to remain downtown,” he said.  “I don’t think there is a better place to be than downtown right now with all the new business and residences coming in.”

And working in a family business that spans generations is not something that Alan takes for granted.  “It is humbling and I feel fortunate to be in this position.   I try to do my best every day to keep our name and reputation where it is,” he said. Married with two children, Alan does consider the possibility of a fourth generation continuing to run the business.

“If one or both of the kids show an interest, I’ll encourage it,” he said.

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9 thoughts on “Relationships: The Lustre of Tradition at Reliable Loan & Jewelry

  1. Reliable Loan and Jewelry is an institution. Old Raleigh people know it’s where you go to buy jewelry. Their gem quality and prices cannot be beat. I am the second generation in my family to purchase an engagement ring from them. Phil and Alan are good people and will take care of you.

    James- Thanks for this great Monday morning read!

  2. My husband and I became a customer in 1991 after leaving the Boston area. Reliable was recommended by a friend. We have been good customers since then and my daughters husband bought her ring there when we they got engaged. We love both Phillip and Alan and would never buy anywhere before first shopping their. I have many friends that are happy customers after being introduced to this special place and look forward to seeing the new store.

  3. These are the best people you will ever meet. I have been a customer for over 50 yrs plus my family has been with them even longer. celebrating our 50th Anniversary this month and they are sure to find just the right piece for the my anniversary. All of them are great people to work with.. Good luck on your move ……?

  4. I was recommended to this outstanding jewelry store many years ago. I took my future wife with me on Novembet 13 1993 and Pam selected the most astonishing engagement ring that day!!!! Would you believe she placed it on her finger that eventful day and it has never left her hand except for an occasional cleaning. Two of my life’s best decisions are taking taking her to meet Phillip and asking her to marry me. I have returned many times over the years for additional purchases and I have always been extremely satisfied. Thank You for your professional guidance!!!!’

  5. When I first graduated from college, I often went down town to Reliable loan to see the best inventory Raleigh had to offer. Sometimes I bought, sometimes I looked, and yes, sometimes I pawned. Over the decades, I have found fabulous deals in this store, and even today, if you truly compare diamond for diamond , Reliable will give you the best deal. The large so called importers at Crabtree and the like tell a pretty story, but trust me, you pay dearly for their inventory that advertise about. Recently, I priced stone with Reliable against a buying direct concept at Crabtree, and Reliable’s price was 20,000 dollars less for the exact GIA stone.

    Philip , the father of this 50 plus year old establishment has set the bar high for trustworthy diamond buying, and his contacts are far superior to anyone else’s in town. He is a master jeweler, and the consulate professional. Allen, his son, has worked his way up this proverbial ladder to greatness and can give you fair and unbiased information on any diamond that you desire. He has taken the reigns of the company and is moving forward into making Reliable the go to place for fine jewels in downtown Raleigh.

    I am personally very proud to know these fine gentlemen, and encourage you to go there before you are taken in by the new “wholesalers” at Crabtree. I have been in this business for over 30 years and I want you to know , on my word, that Reliable is where you need to be.

    Yours Truly,

    George R. McNeill Fine Antiques
    Raleigh, NC.

  6. Several years ago I was in the market to ‘upgrade’ my diamond earrings. I looked everywhere, even went to the diamond district in New York City. I never found a better deal than I got at Reliable. I just recently took in my jewelry for some updates, using my engagement ring, an anniversary band, and my earrings. I am thrilled with the work that was done & the way my jewelry looks now. Thank you Philip and Alan!

  7. I echo Mr. McNeill’s sentiments above. I love Alan and Phillip–and I REALLY love my stunning engagement ring and wedding bands, which I get multiple compliments on every single day (seriously). My fiance went to the establishment store in Cameron Village, the new “direct importers” out at Crabtree, and finally, to Reliable, where Alan and Phil were able to procure the most beautiful, highest quality stone out of any of these three locations. My fiance enjoyed working with Alan and felt like they understood each other–but the bottom line was that the quality of stones that Alan was able to show him was head and shoulders above what any of these other stores could get their hands on. My fiance was looking for something very specific and special, and only Alan and Phil were able to reach out to their network of contacts and find THE stone that he wanted. They truly have the contacts and gem-buying know-how that other stores just don’t have.

    After we got engaged, I couldn’t wait to visit them at the store and show them my ring–I was so thrilled. I bought my husband’s wedding band here as well. They even lent me a beautiful piece to wear on my wedding day. Alan and Phillip are true gentlemen–and so humble. They are straightforward, honest, have a good eye for quality and beauty, and really know their business and their customers. As lifelong residents of Raleigh who now live downtown, my husband and I appreciate their dedication to staying in the neighborhood.

    I love when people ask where my fiance got my rings, because they always assume he went to one of the other stores, and I get to tell them about Reliable–but every once in a while, when I tell someone, I get a knowing smile and recognize I’ve met a fellow member of the club who knows that Reliable is the only place to go.

    We are part of the new generation of life-long customers. Thanks, James, for this great piece on one of the area’s best and most beloved small businesses!

  8. Just wanted to share how much all the comments from the regulars warmed my heart. It’s these type of businesses that build the fabric of our community. After losing my wedding ring recently during a move, I think I’ve found a new locale to hunt for a replacement down the road.

  9. Thank you to all readers that have shared in the comments. The “Strictly Business” column is an opportunity to showcase independent business owners here in Raleigh because as one reader put it, “It’s these type of businesses that build the fabric of our community.” I look forward to delivering more profiles of business owners that demonstrate how robust Raleigh’s independent business community is and, perhaps more significantly, why.

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