We caught up with Matt & Abe, friends and co-founders of JK & Co. Jewelers, to chat pandemic weddings, same-sex ring shopping, and much more.
You guys are friends as well as business partners. How long have you known each other?
Abe: Almost a decade! Wow, do we sound old? Matt and I met while working together at a previous job. We left on the same day to pursue the dream of owning our own business and here we are. JK & Co. Jewelers has been open for over 5 years in Santa Monica, CA and we’re just getting started.
What’s it like to work with a close friend?
Matthew: As with most things, there are good days and days when Abe’s in a bad mood. Just kidding. We’re lucky in that we each bring our own set of strengths to the table and that those strengths differ, making a good team. If you think about it like a restaurant, I’m in the front of the house and Abe is in the back of the house. I meet with most of our clients while Abe deals with the business side of things.
Matthew is wearing the Restore Short Sleeve Tee
Let's talk about home. What makes a place "home" for you?
Matthew: For me, the beach has always been my home. I believe that home is a place where you can truly be yourself, a place where you can step away from the hustle of everyday life and take time to connect with your inner being. I love to surf in the mornings before work, it's my way of meditation which allows my body and mind to reset before the rest of my day gets started.
What are some ways that modern guys are innovating as far as wearing and styling jewelry?
Abe: Over the past few years, we've seen guys mix up their style and express themselves in a huge variety of ways. Instead of going with a classic gold band for their wedding, more and more men these days want to add a tiny diamond or some other bling to their wedding band to make it unique. Why should women get to wear all of the diamonds anyways? We've also seen a big shift with men being more confident wearing watches, bracelets, necklaces, and chains more commonly on a day to day basis. Jewelry is a great way to express yourself and your personality, and more men these days are becoming confident enough to add a piece of fine jewelry to their wardrobe.
We've been celebrating Pride the last few weeks – how have same-sex marriages contributed to breaking down the typical ring-buying traditions?
Matthew: Every couple is different when it comes to the ring buying process. Traditionally, one person will come in and buy a ring to propose to the other, but today there really are no rules! We have a ton of couples that come in together and design custom rings for each partner, whether they are deciding to propose to one another at the same time or on separate occasions. Each person has their own style and design in mind for what they want to wear on a daily basis, which is why we custom make each ring to match their individual aesthetic and personality. Jewelry is an amazing tool for people to express their version of love, and we're honored to be a part of our clients' stories.
How has the pandemic affected the ring-buying process?
Abe: When COVID hit last March and the whole world shut down we were obviously concerned. The future was so unclear for everyone at that moment. But over the following months we started to get busier and busier from couples who wanted to get engaged and continue to move forward with their lives. Most of our clients weren't able to have the wedding or the big honeymoon afterwards that they had planned, but they ended up spending more money on their engagement rings and wedding bands. We pivoted from in-person appointments in our showroom to virtual consultations with clients from all over the world, which allowed our business to expand. We ended up being able to connect with far more clients than we anticipated and our business had a very strong year overall.
Do you think the pandemic will have any long-term effects on weddings and the wedding industry as a whole?
Abe: I think the pandemic forced a lot of people to take a step back from their lives and think about what is truly important to them. For couples who planned on getting married last year, the pandemic gave them a unique opportunity to decide whether they wanted to keep their big wedding plans and reschedule (sometimes more than once), or move forward with a more intimate event with close family and friends. Most of our clients who chose the latter were thrilled with their decision because they ended up being with the most important people in their lives while saving a ton of money. I think that large wedding celebrations will definitely continue in the future, but the past year has allowed the backyard wedding to become a great option for many couples moving forward.
And lastly – what does modern masculinity mean to you?
Matthew: For me it means supporting the ones you love and the people you encounter in your life. Being true to your word and following the golden rule, treating people the way you want to be treated. Being a man in today's world means caring for other people and being able to help those who are in need of support.