Carmouche celebrates 40 years: Jewelers deliver generations of milestone moments
LAPLACE —The most unique and thrilling aspect of the jewelry industry is the opportunity to be part of customers’ biggest occasions, according to Craig Carmouche of LaPlace.
In 40 years of operating Carmouche Jewelers, Craig has celebrated engagements, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries with generations of customers.
“It’s a fun and very personal business,” Craig said. “I sold engagement rings to customers when I first got in business, and I’m selling their children their rings. I’m seeing their kids have kids. You build up relationships over lifetimes.”
Carmouche Jewelers has operated at 409 Belle Terre Boulevard in LaPlace since 2005, after the original Metairie location was flooded and robbed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The family owned company started in March 1979 as a joint business venture between Craig and his father, Fred, who worked as the first jeweler at Aucoin Heart. Craig’s interest in the industry began when he was in high school. Working part-time alongside his father, Craig excelled in piecework and soon made just as much money as the full-time employees.
Fred saw his son had no intention of pursuing a different field of work and announced it was time to open their own business.
The first Carmouche Jewelers storefront was only 400 square feet, but it was enough room for the father and son to pick up a lot of experience sizing rings, setting diamonds and building unique pieces by hand.
That strong foundation has allowed Carmouche Jewelers to survive among competition in St. John the Baptist Parish and surrounding areas.
“Doing repair work teaches you the hard stuff,” Craig said. “Trade schools only teach basic skills. We were lucky to work with other people who were experts. We do all our own work, and we can do a lot of things our competitors say can’t be done.”
Time has brought change to the jewelry industry, especially with the capability to design pieces on the computer and send out models before items are created.
Specialized engravers and watchmakers have become a dying breed as jewelers take on a broader scope of job responsibilities. Despite the changes, Craig said computer-generated and hand-designed jewelry remain popular.
Fred retired in 2009, and Craig’s daughter Brooke has since joined the team.
Brooke enjoys working with customers, but her favorite part of the industry involves hand-selecting pieces each year at a massive Atlanta market.
Natalie K and Romance are popular brands for engagements and weddings, and Citizen and Escape design bestseller watches.
“We go to the markets, place orders and hand pick every item,” Brooke said. “We go through stacks of diamonds and pad after pad of engagement rings. We really do put effort into picking the pieces.”
According to Brooke, loyal customers who have moved to Texas, Tennessee, Colorado and other areas of the United States still place orders and send in their jewelry for repairs.
Brooke said a good business reputation also leads to better service locally.
“Unlike the chain stores, we do everything in house,” Brooke said. “It doesn’t have to be shipped off for weeks overseas to be repaired.”
Service and reliability are key to longevity, according to Craig.
“People seek you out because when you’re dealing with great grandma’s ring, you want to trust the person who’s taking care of it for you,” Craig said.
Carmouche Jewelers is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Holiday sale prices are ongoing through Valentine’s Day. For more information, call 985-359-3155 or visit carmouchejewelerslaplace.com.
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