Steve Markman had graduated college with a law degree when his father and mother started their own jewelry business. Not long afterward, he gave up the idea of lawyering to become the diamond buyer for the company.
That was in 1978. This year, Markman’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry is celebrating their 35th anniversary. With the original location in Knoxville on Kingston Pike and an additional shop neighboring Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, the jewelry store is a true Tennessee based, family-owned establishment founded by Harold and Ida Markman.
Steve says his father got into the jewelry business after serving in the military at the end of World War II. He worked with another jewelry company in Oklahoma in 1947, and was soon relocated to stores in Texas where he met Ida. The two wed in 1950 and sons Steve and Stuart were born a few years later. Harold took a job with his brother’s jewelry business and in 1959 he accepted a position with Zales in Tulsa.
The Markmans moved to Atlanta in 1969, and finally to Knoxville in 1973, where he supervised Zales stores in East Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. After the sons were grown and out of the house, the Markmans decided to try opening their own business.
“I just don’t think my Dad understood the power of his own personality,” says Steve. “He was and still is, energized by people.” The plan was to provide their customers with the “best quality and best service at the best price.” This is the foundation of the business. Harold believes that excellent customer service and becoming familiar with each customer is what retains them and keeps them coming back. “We have them coming back again and again. That makes me feel so good.”
Steve believes it’s a good business concept and an ongoing promise. He still travels the world to find the most brilliant diamonds for the best prices possible for the customers. Not only does Markman’s deal with diamonds, they also are leading experts in gemstones, pearls, gold, platinum, and silver. Steve says this year yellow gold in back in favor and the most popular diamonds seem to be the colored diamonds. He thinks diamond bracelets in these rich colors will make excellent Christmas and Valentine gifts.
“We still manufacture 50 percent of our bridle and 90 percent of our semi-precious fashion jewelry,” adds Steve. The list of designers Markman’s carries is substantial, as well.
Now that Steve’s wife Ellen is involved in the business, Steve expects continued steady growth. Markman’s is a member of both the Chattanooga and Knoxville Chambers of Commerce and supports area nonprofits. Like the Knoxville flagship store, the Chattanooga store continues its promise of providing the best quality and best service at the best price, and the company has plans to remodel the store on Ring Road within the next couple of years. The tradition of training each employee to follow the methods of service established by Harold Markman will continue. The expectation of employees is to provide service and knowledge with loyal and caring commitment.
Visit www.markmansdiamonds.com for more information.
Photography courtesy of Markman’s
This story was originally published in the Dec 2011/Jan 2012 Issue of Chattanooga Magazine.