Greg Foote brings his jewelry expertise to the East Metro.
It’s a time for love, laughter and reminiscing. This February, take a moment to think about the love you’ve shared. Whether you’re celebrating an engagement or hoping to surprise that special someone, these are the moments that Greg Foote enjoys the most.
“That’s the favorite part of my business, making people happy,” Foote says, owner of Greg Foote Jewelers in Oakdale. “I’m part of happy times, marriages and anniversaries; so, that’s fun to be part of.”
The St. Paul native began his career in the jewelry industry in the early 1970s, working alongside his aunt, who was a bookkeeper/controller for a large family-owned jeweler. “She hired me. She also hired my brother. At one point, there were five of us family members [working there],” Foote says, noting that he grew up in a “jewelry family.”
Early on, Foote had a special interest in jewelry repairs, diamond settings, custom design and custom fabrication, which prompted him to enroll in Minneapolis Vo Tech. After graduating in 1975, he went into business for himself as an independent contractor before opening his jewelry store about 15 years ago.
Building customer relationships is important to Foote. “I enjoy working with them and getting to know them a little bit better and meeting their needs,” he says.
Foote is well-equipped to take proper care of precious family heirlooms, too. He works with the latest technology in laser welding, which allows him to do repairs and fabrication not possible with conventional methods. “Some jewelers will send their work out; they don’t do it on the premises. We have a full shop,” he says. This can offer peace of mind to clients, knowing their treasured pieces are on site.
Often, couples come into his store with a diamond ring that needs repairs. After several decades of wear, either the stones need to be remounted or the ring needs to be remade altogether. “[And] that’s where our fabrication comes in. If their ring isn’t perfect, we can do slight modifications and make it their own,” Foote says.
“Most of the time, we can find new designs, and we can take their stones out of their old ring and put it in the new,” he says.
“My favorite day is when a customer comes in and they see that their ring is rebuilt or their new ring that they have contracted us to do is beautiful,” he says. “The look on their face, it makes my day.”
Maintenance is Key
It’s important to keep jewelry in good condition. Like most anything else, it needs to be regularly maintained. Foote recommends that customers bring in their rings every six months to be cleaned at no charge.
“Being preventative goes a long way. Most people don’t do that. And 20 years later, they might lose their diamond, and they look down and it’s gone. If you keep your jewelry clean, it will last longer,” he says.
With so many beautiful designs and exquisite styles to choose from, Foote says the diamond still holds a special place in his heart. It has and always will leave a lasting impression.
If an engagement is in the near future, Foote suggests that couples start the process by searching online for ring designs. It’s important to consider the size of the desired diamond or gemstone, and, of course, price range consideration is also an important part of the process.
Many couples are looking beyond the diamond and turning to precious gemstones, such as sapphires or rubies, to style their engagement rings. Sapphires, known as the blue gemstones, actually come in a variety of colors. Recognized for their durability, their hardness is next to that of a diamond.
Whether the stone customers desire is round, oval, square, marquise or pear-shaped, Foote is expertly ready to assist in the selection of a ring.
As the saying goes, a diamond is forever; however, there’s a growing trend toward purchasing lab grown diamonds as more people take into consideration the environmental impact of mining natural diamonds.
“Instead of the crystal forming in nature, the crystal is formed in a laboratory. They’ve really perfected that procedure now,” Foote says.
The price of lab grown diamonds has come down considerably and are now about a quarter of the price of a natural diamond. The good news, Foote says, is the industry has also tightened up on diamond sourcing in recent years. “All the [natural] diamond dealers that we deal with now [indicate] where the diamond has come from, where it’s been mined,” he says.