Timothy Twedt, owner of T. Kelly Jewelers, an upscale jewelry store in downtown Champaign, specializes in diamonds. As the only local member of the Independent Jewelers Organization, a worldwide organization of jewelry buyers, Twedt travels to Belgium twice a year to hand-select the diamonds he sells. T. Kelly Jewelers also sells many original designs.
How did you get started in the jewelry business?
It’s actually a long story. I was working on the construction of nuclear power plants and got into the business of coin-buying and selling. When the coins weren’t selling, I decided to buy some chains and sell them as bezels, but those didn’t sell either. The chains I bought sold, and I started selling gold chains and bracelets on the side. In 1985, I rented my first space-108 square feet. Then I started going to school for gemstones and diamonds. I have made several moves since then and with each move it’s a step up. In 2002, I was invited to join the Independent Jewelers Organization, which is a group of independent jewelers committed to buying better. Now, I am able go to Belgium twice a year to buy diamonds.
How would you describe T. Kelly Jewelers?
It’s an upscale jewelry store. It’s a family-owned business, a mom and pop operation. It’s named after my daughter Kelly. We are in our 20th year. We are honest, and our clients are very loyal. We are full-service, from watch batteries to flawless diamonds.
What do you specialize in?
Diamonds are really our niche. We handle ideal-cut diamonds. It’s like art. We don’t sell paint by numbers; we sell Rembrandts. We also try to do unique things; we do a lot of our designs. I have designers from all over the world.
What is your most popular item?
I would say it’s the three-diamond, ideal-cut ring. My daughter calls it the “hot ring” because it’s so fiery. The cut makes it fiery. It’s a simple, simple ring but has a brilliant cut. We also have sold a lot of the hot pink sapphire. I just got back from a trade show so we will have a lot of new, unique things for the spring.
What are some of our other interests?
Dogs. I am big dog lover; I have four. I really love animals.
What’s your favorite place in Champaign-Urbana?
I would say the downtown area. It’s a really nice area. I have a great location.
What is your favorite part of being in the jewelry business?
The people. I am sure not in it for the money. I love meeting people. I can say that in 20 years of business, I have never had a bad experience with a customer.