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August 1, 2014updated Aug 12, 2014

Brian Gunderson, President, Gunderson’s

By Chris Boyle

With locations in Sioux City, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska and Sioux Falls, South Dakota Gunderson’s may be as far from Madison Avenue and Rodeo Drive as one can get.  Yet a recent study by Wealth-X showed there are more Ultra High Net Worth ($30 million +) families in these three states than wealth hot beds such as Nigeria, Austria, Greece, Israel, Bahrain or Oman. On its website, the jeweler quotes Zsa Zsa Gabor saying, “I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan was able to query President Brian Gunderson on the company’s storied history and its success selling high end jewelry and watches.

BRIAN IN BLACK Elite Traveler: Give us an overview of Gunderson?

Brian Gunderson: Gunderson’s is a family owned jewelry organization that has established an outstanding reputation for quality products and services. We are proud of our rich history in the jewelry industry, which began over 65 years ago as a repair destination for fine watches and grew into what we are today: a privately owned multi-generation family business that provides the highest quality diamonds, fine jewelry and gifts. Our mission is to be recognized as a destination for products of enduring beauty and quality; dedication to building lasting relationships with our customers based on trust, reliability and respect; and unsurpassed workmanship in jewelry manufacture and repair.

ET: Why did you want to participate in The One and Only One Program?

BG: We felt like the One and Only One Program was tailored to our type of clients so we could see how it fit well for us. We like to represent truly unique, rare and one of a kind investment types of pieces to our clients and The One and Only One program was made for that.

ET: Of these one of a kind pieces which is your favorite and why?

BG: My favorite piece is the three carat Fancy Intense Pink diamond we featured in the May/June issue this year of Elite Traveler (below). Pink is a favorite color of mine so I like that on a personal level. On a professional level, our clientele understands the rarity of natural pink diamonds. They understand that pink is a win-win. You have a natural color diamond that is marketable as more people are comfortable with pink, know the value, and are fine with spending the money on it then say a blue or green diamond where the market for these stones is much smaller. And you have a diamond that the supply is diminishing at a fast pace and the demand is far outweighing the supply. So long term, this is a solid stone to own!

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 12.30.22 PMET: What makes Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds special?

BG: Their beauty, rarity, and complexity. I love telling our clients the science of how these colors are created in nature. I have a deep appreciation for the complexity of each color! Its always a passionate presentation and probably brings our my inner diamond geek but most clients love to hear all about them! There’s no doubt in any clients mind why they are rare after hearing the my gemological case for each color.

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ET:  Is it an investment purchase or purchase of passion? Why?

BG:  Both! You can make money on natural color diamonds if you can hold for a period of time and you buy right to begin with. You have to know what you are buying and you have to work with someone who’s close to this side of the industry. Passion should be the reason you look at color to begin with! What else can you buy and wear and enjoy and still have an opportunity to make money on?

ET:  Why do you enjoy being in this business?

BG:  I love what I do. I love our staff and their passion for all things jewelry related. I love our wholesale partners and their knowledge of their side of the industry and their openness to help me learn. I love our clients and their excitement for our stores, staff and products. How can you have a bad day when you wake up excited for what every day will bring? Whats better than seeing your clients outside of the store and hearing how much they love their new piece of jewelry? Whats better then catching up with an old friend, before mentioning they have a new piece they are dying for me to see? How many places can you do a dance of excitement with your staff because they just sold their first natural color diamond?! It brings a smile to my face every day. I love what I do, I love this business and that isn’t changing for a long time.

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