Ben Hurwitz, who was a clockmaker in his native Russia, immigrated to the U.S. in 1920. He arrived at the Port of Baltimore and eventually settled in Westminster, where he opened a jewelry store, then called Colombia Jewelers. In those days, in the jewelry business, everything was transacted by a handshake, even expensive transactions. Ben often extended credit to customers, too, based solely on a promise to pay and a handshake.
By 1948, Ben’s son, Will, and daughter-in-law, Marilyn, opened a second location on North Market Street in downtown Frederick. Will and Marilyn thought Frederick would be a great place to raise a family, and Will foresaw a demand in Frederick for the services Colonial Jewelers could provide. That second location was a success, and eventually the Frederick store moved to 9 W. Patrick St., while the Westminster store closed.
In 1973, Will and Marilyn’s son, Jeff Hurwitz, entered the business with his wife, Patty, and in 1998, Jeff and Patty again moved the business — this time, across the street to the old Maryland National Bank building at 1 S. Market St., where it stands today. Jeff Hurwitz, the store’s current president and co-owner, earned a gemologist degree from Gemological Institute of America and serves as Colonial Jeweler’s in-house appraiser and inventory manager. He works alongside his wife, Patty, and daughter, Sarah Hurwitz Robey, who joined the business as a fourth-generation staff member in 2003. After becoming a Graduate Gemologist herself through the Gemological Institute of America, she is now the store manager — though she was helping out part-time at the store before she even had a driver’s license.
Sarah was fascinated by gems from an early age and grew up studying the gemstone books and charts in her father’s collection. Jeff, Patty and Sarah manage the business’ daily operations and their 20-member team. The Colonial Jewelers of 1948 sold a variety of items, from jewelry and giftware to televisions and home appliances. Today, their inventory is exclusively fine jewelry and watches, and they are recognized as the area’s largest single source for diamonds, engagement rings, wedding bands and other fine jewelry. They continue to offer jewelry and watch repair, as they did back in the day, and they sell custom-made jewelry to meet all needs.
Despite humble beginnings, when the store had very little merchandise and a cigar box served as a cash register, nothing has changed when it comes to the business staff’s ethics and mission. As a fourth-generation family business, Colonial Jewelers prides itself on being founded on trust and integrity, principles which continue today. “These are the values that have been passed down through the generations,” says Patty Hurwitz. “We always operate according to the golden rule and sell quality jewelry at fair prices. That’s how Will and Marilyn ran their business and how Sarah believes in doing business today and in the future.”
Another thing that hasn’t changed? The owners’ love of Frederick and the local community. “It’s rewarding to see customers whose grandparents shopped in our store many years ago,” Jeff says. “I have truly been blessed to have the opportunity to continue our family’s tradition at Colonial Jewelers, even more so to get to learn from my parents by working side by side with them,” Sarah adds. “A multigenerational family business is rare these days, so that gives me constant motivation to keep the values consistent while growing and changing with the times. We are so lucky to have a staff that embodies these values and works hard to deliver the highest level of knowledge and service to our customers.
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