By Amy Geiszler-Jones - Photographed By Madison Ham
From beads to bling – Randy Cooper’s Fine Jewelry has come a long ways since it was founded by its namesake in 1984 as she strung beads at her kitchen table.
“I’ve always loved things that sparkle and I’ve always been a lover of jewelry,” said Randy Cooper.
One can find plenty of sparkle in her 4,100-square-foot store at 1856 N. Rock Road in Bradley Fair.
The shop is the only official Rolex jeweler based in Kansas, and it also carries a wide range of jewelry from several designers and well-respected diamond brands, such as Forevermark by The De Beers Group of Companies and the L’Amour Crisscut by Christopher Designs.
Randy Cooper’s Fine Jewelry, a member of the American Gem Society, is also the only accredited American Gem Society laboratory in the Wichita area. An AGS lab adheres to a stricter standard of diamond grading, which means better assurances and protection for the consumer, according to the AGS website.
To acquire her luxury inventory, Cooper and her buyers attend markets both domestically and in Europe, including Baselworld, which is held in Basel, Switzerland, and is considered the premier marketplace show for the watch and jewelry industry.
Much like it takes the earth years to create a diamond, it was a slow transition to move from beads to a high-end jewelry store and to grow her retail space, Cooper said.
From beads she progressed into sterling silver, then various carats of gold and fine jewelry and watches. All of the diamonds and gemstones she sells in her store are natural, she noted.
“We don’t have any above-ground diamonds,” she said, using one of the terms to refer to synthetic, or lab-grown, diamonds. “Even when I bought beads, I made sure they weren’t treated and that they were what they said they were,” said Cooper, citing how important ethics and professional credentialing are in an industry such as hers.
Her first commercial space was above the Plaid Giraffe gift shop, where she initially was open only one day a week until gradually expanded the store’s hours. When Bradley Fair, a lifestyle shopping center, opened 27 years ago at 21st Street and North Rock Road, Randy Cooper’s Fine Jewelry was its first tenant. Over the years, she’s occupied a couple of different spaces within the center. Four years ago, she moved into her current store, which is nearly three times the size of her original Bradley Fair store. The larger store allowed her to create what is called the Rolex corner, where the logo of the world-famous watchmaker is prominently displayed along with the precision timepieces.
Several of her 11 staff members have been with her for much of her business’ 33 years, including her best friend of 47 years, Diana Peden, who assists Cooper in jewelry buying.
“I have very, very good and smart people who’ve been in the business for a long time and we all work very well together as a team,” Cooper said, pointing out that, for example, Julie Goldston, a certified graduate gemologist on her staff, has 45 years of industry experience. Cooper’s team also includes a jeweler available to make custom designs and Christa Parker, who as a gift buyer helps Cooper select unique gift items, such as art glass, jewelry boxes and crystal decanters, that are sold at the store. Other store services include appraisals, watch repair and jewelry repair.
With a focus on fashion, VIP Wichita asked Cooper to share some jewelry-wearing tips.
• Don’t be afraid to mix metals and types of gold. “It’s not just all white gold, all yellow gold, all pink gold. It’s all three, all together. It adds texture, it adds color and it adds interest,” she said, pointing to her own accessories that included sterling silver, 18-carat yellow gold and 18-carat white gold.
• Layers don’t just apply to clothes. Layer bracelets on your wrists and necklaces around your neck. Stack rings on your fingers.
• Specialty cuts like oval and pear shapes are becoming more prominent. Another unique piece of jewelry is diamond baguette-cut hoop earrings.
• Go long. Long chain necklaces are popular, and so are long strands of pearls.
• Add some color. Did you know that sapphires come in more colors than just blue and that garnets can be orange or green?