Parkhill Jewelry has been serving the Lancaster County area in a variety of ways and locations for over 30 years, and its current storefront is located in Ephrata. Although the small building can be easy to pass over compared to its more historic neighbors on old Main Street, the full-service jewelry store is a hidden gem. The company not only has one of the most impressive inventories of its kind in central Pennsylvania, but it also provides a wide array of industry services. Free services like ring sizing and watch warranties draw in customers, but one of the store’s specialties is custom jewelry: “If you can dream it, we can make it” is the company motto.
Bernie Shiffler, the founder of Parkhill Jewelry, has owned and operated the company for more than three decades. His experience in the industry extends back even further: He worked for a chain jeweler for ten years before launching his own repair business that served 17 other jewelers in the counties of Lancaster, Berks and York. Eventually he missed customer interactions too much, Shiffler told The Lancaster Patriot, and he opened his first retail store to engage with the public more directly.
Parkhill Jewelry buys from many vendors all over the world, carefully selecting each item to ensure that every stone and piece of metalwork offered in the store is of superior quality. In addition to carrying jewelry from various brands and designers, the company designs and creates its own pieces, and it also welcomes customers to come in with their own ideas to craft personal jewelry.
“You can come in here with just an idea and we will do the drawing for you,” Shiffler said. “Or you can come in with a picture or a drawing and we will make your piece.” If the customer can imagine it, Parkhill Jewelry will help bring the item into being — whether it is a ring, a pendant, a necklace, earrings or anything else. A model of the custom piece will be created in-house using a computer-aided design program, so the customer can approve the design before the custom piece is produced.
The options for custom jewelry extend beyond designing entirely new pieces. Parkhill Jewelry can also revamp an existing piece, create a setting for a special jewel or coin, recut a gemstone, or create a piece to match an existing item, such as designing a wedding band to match an engagement ring.
Parkhill also offers to purchase estate items, such as antique jewelry, gold, silver, platinum, coins, paper money, diamonds, colored stones, costume jewelry, silver flatware, watches, clocks and original art. People can make an appointment to bring items to the store for evaluation or they can arrange for Parkhill to come to view the items. Parkhill offers a choice between a cash payment or store credit at 50% more than the offered cash price.
As the dollar loses value, people are looking for alternatives. Buying physical gold is a common way to hedge against inflation, while selling gold is a quick way to get some cash — and Parkhill Jewelry is experienced in helping clients on both sides of the transaction. “At Parkhill, we’ve been buying gold since 1987. Every day, every year,” Shiffler said. “That facet of our business is also good for recessionary times. So we have the benefit of being able to help customers out by buying their old, unwanted jewelry and giving them some cash.” Although gold is currently going down in price rather than up — an unusual trend, considering the state of inflation — the price of gold and silver is staying relatively consistent to what it has been over the last four or five years, he said. This makes it a good time to invest in some jewelry, since the price is not climbing yet but is staying stable.
Buying a good piece of jewelry can still be quite expensive, of course, and Parkhill Jewelry can help with that too. For the young man who wants to propose to his girl, for the customer who wants a unique piece of jewelry, and for every other type of shopper searching the market for something of value, Parkhill offers easy, lenient layaway plans.
“We have free layaway with no credit check. And it’s a very liberal layaway,” Shiffler said. “We take minimal down payments, and as long as the customer is paying regularly, they can keep it on layaway as long as they wish.” Payments need to be made at least once a month, but individuals can make use of the layaways for extended periods and even for multiple items. They can even take pieces out of layaway to take advantage of sale prices during the shop’s semiannual sales — and even if they don’t, they can trust that the price of the item will not increase over time, no matter how long the layaway lasts.
“You get the piece for today’s price,” Shiffler said. “You don’t have to worry about it being $100 or $1,000 more six months from now.”
That consistency in pricing is a hallmark of Parkhill Jewelry. Even as prices go up elsewhere due to inflation, shipping costs, or even simple markups by other retailers, Parkhill sticks to their original price tags. No matter how long a piece sits in the store, its price will not be marked up, even if the piece increases in value. That brings plenty of customers back to shop for great bargains.
Parkhill Jewelry has lasted so long not merely because it is a one-stop shop for all jewelry needs, but because its owner has a strong respect for all of his customers. The store’s customer base grows the most by word of mouth, since patrons know they can trust Shiffler and his team, which includes manager Melissa Andrews and assistant manager Brooke Mikula.
“Every employee that I have, I make them understand that it’s the customer that writes their paycheck, not me,” Shiffler explained. “And I think if you keep that in your mind, on a daily basis, and treat your customers with respect and friendship, it works out every time.”
The store’s next sale will take place on November 18 and 19, and Shiffler invites everyone who is interested to come and see just why so many customers keep coming back for more.