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Estate jewelry collection now a retail operation

Published Oct. 9, 2005

While operating fine art galleries in New York and London and here in Largo during the past 20 years, Franklyn and Elaine Gesner began buying estate jewelry. In time, the jewelry grew into a collection, enough to open a store.

"We decided we better start selling," Gesner said, so this past winter the couple opened Gesner Estate Jewelry in Seminole Mall. In April they opened a second store in Clearwater Mall.

"It dawned on us that even when times are tough, people can do without paintings, but they still buy jewelry," he said.

"While we have some pieces that are only 2 or 3 years old, we have heavy inventories in Art Deco and Art Nouveau platinum pieces from the 1920s. We have jewelry from the '40s, '50s and '60s and a fair amount from more recent times. We have things from Europe and England and pieces made by Tiffany, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. We are large dealers in reconditioned Rolex watches."

Jewelry doesn't lose its value with age, Gesner said. But used jewelry is much less expensive than brand-new jewelry.

"Gold does not depreciate, diamonds do not depreciate," he said. "And when they are polished and reconditioned, they appear new. Older jewelry tends to be made better, the craftsmanship is often better than today, and styles are more varied."

Gesner said he has two full-time gemologists who travel throughout the Northeast and Florida buying jewelry for the stores. John Bradley, a former head designer and jeweler for Mayor's jewelry stores, works at the Clearwater store in repair and design. Owen Burgess, a goldsmith, works at the Seminole store.

A third store is planned for early 1994.

Citizens Bank branch to open

Citizens Bank of Clearwater is planning a 2,800-square-foot branch on Island Estates by the end of the year, according to C. David Carley Jr., Citizens chairman and chief executive officer.

"We think the area offers a good market for us to expand into, and we look forward to offering the services of a locally owned and managed bank," said Carley, who is an Island Estates resident.

Carley said the bank has a contract to buy the former Mobil service station site at Windward Passage and Island Way. The new bank, designed by Clearwater architect Steve Fowler, is to have drive-in entrances from Windward Passage and Island Way. It is to have four teller positions inside and two drive-through lanes exiting onto Windward Passage, he said.

The branch also is to have a safe deposit vault and a small conference room that is to be available to non-profit organizations, he said. In addition to its main office in downtown Clearwater, Citizens Bank has branches in Dunedin, Largo and Belleair.

Investment company changes name

Wainscott & McDermott Inc., an investment and financial services business in Clearwater, has changed its name to Waterford Financial Inc., announced company president Frank J. Wainscott. He said the company, which has four offices statewide, has 20 brokers on staff and is looking to add stock brokers and insurance agents. Waterford Financial is at 611 Druid Road W, Suite 717.

Mirror shop now in Seminole

Clear Image mirror resilvering shop has opened at 4900 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, according to owner Ron Higgins. Services of the 1,500-square-foot shop include mirror antiquing and restoration of tarnished, spotted and blackened mirrors. Classes also are available in resilvering.

Hotel names assistant manager

Todd Collins has been promoted to assistant manager of the Knights Inn hotel in Palm Harbor, said general manager Maurice Hickey. Collins, who lives in Palm Harbor, attends Tampa College. The 114-room hotel is at 34106 U.S. 19 N.

Hair salon opens in Clearwater Mall

Hair Plus has opened a 1,500-square-foot salon in Clearwater Mall at U.S. 19 and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard. Hair Plus is a 90-store family-owned business based in Charlotte, N.C.