By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – When you talk about a true Slidell family business you can’t find a better example than Sylvia’s Designs & Estate Jewelry.
Sylvia Stanton Black has continued the tradition started by her grandparents Cliff and Angie Doucet, who opened the first Doucet’s Jewelry in New Orleans on Baronne Street in the 1940s.
Now in 2017, Black is celebrating the 22nd anniversary of her own continuation of that family business with Sylvia’s Designs and Estate Jewelry, which continues operating at its 2137 E. Gause Blvd. address.
“When I think about my own store for the past 22 years, and working with my parents and grandparents in the original Doucet’s for many years before that, it makes me appreciate all the people in Slidell who supported us all those years. I really do want to say thank you to Slidell for allowing us to continue our family business for so long,” she said.
One way of saying “thank you” to Slidell is for Sylvia to offer special holiday sales, particularly in the estate jewelry that she became specialized in. She has many items in the store at 30 percent to 40 percent off through Christmas.
Cliff and Angie Doucet started in the business by working with Don Boudreaux, quite famous in that business for decades for the New Orleans Boudreaux’s Jewelers stores. It didn’t take long for the Doucets to head off on their own and start their first store in the 1940s.
As many people learned for years in Southeast Louisiana, the North Shore had a lot to offer for New Orleans residents, with many of them taking weekend trips to St. Tammany Parish and just as many building second homes here.
Cliff and Angie did just that as they slowly built their own home in Coin du Lestin, working weekends to build it mostly on their own before moving to Slidell in the 1950s.
The couple planned to retire, but according to Sylvia, “my grandmother said she couldn’t stand being retired and not working at their jewelry store.” So they opened the store again, this time in Slidell, with the first Doucet’s Jewelry location in one of the small buildings at 1768 Front Street, across from the train station.
Business was so good that they opened a second location when Slidell got its first “big” retail center, situated on Pontchartrain Drive and named Tammany Mall.
By that time Bob and Sylvia Stanton, the daughter and son-in-law of Cliff and Angie, were working at the store and young Sylvia Stanton came in to work after school, remembering time with her grandfather at Doucet’s Jewelry.
“I kept working after I finished school at Slidell High and by the time I was 25 we wanted a trained jeweler in the store so I went off to GIA and got certified as a jeweler,” she said.
GIA was actually Gemological Institute of America, located in California, and provided classes and certification as a gemologist for Sylvia, something she utilized in a unique way when she found her real interest in estate jewelry.
“I love the history of the pieces and the incredible technique it takes for these craftsmen to make this jewelry. It’s really still so beautiful and there is a very good market to buy and sell it,” she noted.
She decided to feature estate jewelry, and custom designs for jewelry, since “there were other jewelry stores here and I wanted to stand out. I was seeing a lot of people melting the estate jewelry for scrap, but I wanted to save it. So I began to buy it and re-sell it.”
With the grandparents and finally her parents retiring it seemed to be time for Sylvia to do her own thing and she did that when she opened Sylvia’s Designs & Estate Jewelry in 1995.
Another specialty she offers is to take vintage jewelry, or older wedding rings, and completely redesign them for a new piece.
“I get a lot of young people come in and say ‘my mom gave me this to use for my wedding.’ But the style may not be modern looking, so I work with them and we come up with a brand new piece using the stones and metals from the old jewelry. We have created a lot of really beautiful pieces,” she added.
Her brother, Rick Stanton, works with her at the store as a jeweler who can repair, restore or re-create many jewelry pieces, besides perform watch repairs.
Although Sylvia’s features estate jewelry she also offers traditional engagement rings, performs jewelry appraisals, watch and jewelry repairs, engraving, and pearl restringing.
For more information, visit them at their East Gause location or call 646-0014.