LA’s Jewelry Business Makes for 24-Karat Kin
BY JOHN HARLOW
Today, LA's jewel trade beats in several hearts—Beverly Hills; the Downtown jewel district, which boasts more than 3,000 merchants; and a "golden ring" of luxury distributors circling the city, serving the beach and canyon crowds. This includes the Halfacre family in Newport Beach and Malibu.
Erik Halfacre and his mother, Lula, took over Traditional Jewelers in 2007 after the loss of its founder, their father and husband (respectively), Marion Halfacre. Halfacre acknowledges the importance of the special relationships the family-owned business has with its customers: "There is a real trust factor with the family-owned operation. People want to know that when they are buying, the players don't change." In the greater LA area, family-owned jewelry businesses are tight-knit, he explains. "Steve Polacheck, John Simonian, and my dad were buddies, and now Greg, Brent, and I are all buddies. There is a bond with the families and a gentlemanly way we deal with one another."
At the University of Southern California, Halfacre opted for athletics over stones and nearly ended up a sports agent. In those days, he admits, working with the Lakers seemed more fun. "I worked for Leigh Steinberg who was the inspiration for Jerry Maguire," he says. "I was around big athletes. I was a high school athlete, but my growth spurt ended at 5-foot-10, so that severed all of those dreams." Despite the allure of professional athletics, he says, the jewelry world eventually called him back.
He attended the Carlsbad campus of the GIA and did a stint with Officine Panerai in New York, and, with the advice of his mother, he modernized every aspect of their business—from bookkeeping to display—and found real joy in the legacy his parents started. "I have been able to encompass so many elements from my life into my work by bringing in friends as sales associates, picking up friends' jewelry lines, and selling to friends," says Halfacre. "The beauty of being in this business is we can share our success."
In 2008, Traditional expanded from its venerable Orange County flagship to Malibu, where the family opened a second location, also featuring fine jewelry and watches.
Earlier this year, Halfacre left his post as president of Traditional and with his wife, Bonnie, took over the Malibu store and is opening an additional boutique, Vintage Malibu by Erik and Company. "The Malibu store became so involved it was no longer merely an outpost, but needed its own branding. Erik and Company, which was formerly Traditional Jewelers, is focused on watches, and Vintage Malibu by Erik and Company will include vintage watches, jewelry, and handbags. My wife and I are partners, and she serves as my feminine eye," says Halfacre.
With Traditional catering to loyal clientele in OC and Erik and Company following suit in Malibu, the Halfacre family is looking forward to continuing their long-held relationships with customers. Halfacre and his wife have two daughters who may very well choose to uphold the legacy. "My dad never forced me into the business," he says. "There was an open-door policy if I wanted to join. I want my children to do what they want to do, and if that becomes jewelry, great, but if that is singing, dancing, accounting, or whatever it is, I am there to support them, like my father was there to support me."
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS STEIN