Longtime Business Houston Jewelry is Industry Leader | WESTCHASE DISTRICT

Wholesale Jewelry, opened in 1953 by Margaret and Abe Donsky in downtown Houston, is one of the city’s oldest, longest operating businesses.

The couple then migrated from the city to a location that would place the business in the future Westchase District. As their grandson Rex Solomon took reins as president, he established the new name to Houston Jewelry. It’s a full-service jewelry store that specializes in diamond and bridal jewelry. It also manufactures and sources from high level suppliers.

Previously located at Westheimer and Gessner, the company built a building in 1973 that now houses the Tesla service center. “When we bought the land, Westheimer was nothing but gravel and grass going west,” said Solomon. Houston Jewelry operated in the location for two decades before opening in 1993 on 9521 Westheimer, marking its longest running location.

Solomon is a leading industry expert who almost became a lawyer, but his interest in the business was too strong. “I chose this, I didn’t have to do it,” said Solomon. “I was actively encouraged not to do it, but it was a whole lot more fun than law school.”

Building trust fit for a queen: For Houston Jewelry’s Rex Solomon, knowing his product inside and out is paramount to his store’s approach to maintaining well-educated buyers. Solomon also takes pride in his store’s permanent free exhibit of life size replicas of the Crown Jewels of England (background) which he installed in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

Innovation, product knowledge, marketing brings in the customers
According to Solomon, Houston Jewelry was the first to use gemological microscopes on counters to teach people about what they were purchasing, along with offering discounted prices. “We employed this tool decades before it became common in jewelry stores,” said Solomon.

“We have never been a hard-sell business,” said Solomon. “We prefer to be the last place you shop not the first. Our associates are really good. They can arm shoppers with enough information where they can compare.”

Houston Jewelry was also first to use a catalogue, showroom format. “There are many things we do to sell our items for less,” said Solomon. “We’ve moved around but have been primarily in Westchase. Being here gives us a lower expense area of operation.”

In 2006, an idea came to Solomon to save paying tax on anything held over December 31. Realizing the day after Christmas was a slow retail day, he launched the store’s largest sale event on December 26 running a newspaper ad that read “One day only, 75 percent off all jewelry” sale. Not anticipating a big response, Solomon stayed home the day the ad ran. His brother, who happened to be vacationing in Houston, had to come to his home to tell him the store had 500 customers. “I heard him banging on the door and was startled to hear the good news,” said Solomon. The Christmas sale now draws more than 1,000 people.

Sourcing and buying from the public keeps competitive edge
Solomon has tapped a 15-year industry trend: buying from the public. “It’s been very innovative,” said Solomon. “We are buying scrap jewelry from the public, anywhere from estate items to things that have been in a family for generations which nobody wants but the owner wants the money.”

Solomon worked with Houston City Council and Houston Police Department to create an ordinance that requires buyers to be licensed and record all transactions electronically. “We buy gold and diamonds from the public, and pay a very competitive price,” said Solomon. “We hold any items for 11 days before we can refine it and make it into other pieces.” Stones are taken out of pieces and all diamonds are sent to be recut and to the Gemological Institute of America for grading and laser inscription. “If we have the diamond (own it), we can beat any online seller,” explained Solomon. “When we acquire things like diamonds, we also pay a very competitive price and are transparent with the seller.”

9521 Westheimer Road
Open Monday – Saturday 11 a.m.  to 6 p.m.