Darlene Albertson hopes holiday shoppers will be drawn to her wares and continue to visit after the traditional season of giving. Dar’s Gems and Jewelry opened for business on November 12 at 67 Bridge Street, downtown Rockford.
With a motto of “quality at low prices,” Albertson is firm about informing her customers when making a fine jewelry purchase. She points out her array of diamond rings. “Diamonds can be almost any color of the rainbow,” she said.
She said most diamonds are heat treated, sometimes right at the mine, but most diamond shoppers are never informed of this. Her diamonds—black, yellow, champagne and other colors—are irradiated to be the way they would a million years from now.
“I will not sell a stone without telling people most stones are treated,” she stated. “If they were a natural yellow, they would cost five times this.”
Diamonds are not all Albertson’s gem store has to offer. With a fondness for amethyst and quartz, especially quartz mixed with other properties, the 16-foot display case glitters with color and texture. She buys from cutters in Thailand, New York and around the world. Thailand, she said, is the cutting capital of the world and provides some of her favorites.
“It is all real jewelry. There is no fake or fraud behind this display case,” she stated. On the other side of the display, Anderson stocks some fun costume jewelry for the lighter purchase. Her store also has room for plenty more, and friends and family will offer some other wares. In stock on the second day for business were also soaps, candles, bath salts and woodcrafts.
Albertson came into the business after her father died. A stone cutter for over 20 years, he had product left. “I was not at all interested,” she said. Later, she was able to look over what he’d left and became fascinated with the beauty of the stones and jewelry.
Looking for a location in Rockford to open her store, Albertson seemed just a little too late each time she considered a spot. “Every time, the location had just been rented,” she said. She had her eye on a neighboring storefront to her current location, but it was twice rented before she could talk to the landlord. Albertson even tried to open her business in a former home in the Bella Vista area, but couldn’t get a variance.
With her Boston terrier “Precious” and daughter Kim Danley, who also works for the North Kent Service Center, Albertson looks forward to greeting customers this holiday season. She hopes to add an appraiser to offerings the store can provide. Again, family should help. “My granddaughter is already a gemologist. She is in school right now to become an appraiser, too,” said Albertson.
Albertson said she hopes to keep her costs much lower than other jewelry stores. She sets some stones herself and is pleased to offer a variety in precious stones and prices of pieces. She offers 10, 14 and 18 karat gold so that purchasers have a choice in the cost of gold jewelry, as well as many jewelry items in silver.
While shopping for holiday or household items, people can make an impact on the gifts for those struggling financially this year. Just inside the door of Dars is a Christmas tree with envelopes of children’s names and ages. The children whose names are on the tree are from families requesting help this year from the North Kent Service Center. Albertson hopes that even if people don’t find a purchase at her store, they will take an envelope and pick up a gift suitable for that young person. Albertson, a Rockford resident, has also taken foster children in at her home and hopes people will remember other youngsters having a hard time this year. She is pleased to have a Rockford location for her business and to offer this small service to others.
“I feel very lucky to be here,” Albertson said of her new store. “I’ve been looking forever.”
The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and closed Sundays and Mondays.