December 2016

Quinn’s Diamond Jewelers: “If you don’t know your jewelry, know the Quinns”

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Darrel Quinn, owner of Quinn’s Diamond Jewelers in the Village at Wexford, weaves a tale to customers with a signature twinkle in his eye.

Buying a diamond is like buying an elephant,” said Darrel Quinn, owner of Quinn’s Diamond Jewelry in the Village at Wexford on Hilton Head Island. “You don’t know what you should be paying for elephants, and you don’t know what you should be paying for diamonds.”

Next, Quinn told the story of his “new brain” (ask him!), before whipping out a box of Scooby Doo graham crackers shaped like dog biscuits, on hand for customers who might be “in the doghouse”—this from a man who once gave his wife pots and pans for Christmas and found a way out through his family’s jewelry business.
Quinn’s colorful personality might lead you to believe he doesn’t take himself too seriously. You would be right about that. But what he does take seriously is the quality of the jewelry he sells, the expertise he brings to the table, and the level of education and service he offers his customers.

Quinn, a master jeweler with 50 years’ experience in the industry, earned his business degree from the University of Illinois. After graduation, following his father’s advice to “get certified in everything,” he earned a degree in jewelry repair as well as horology (the study of time) from Gem City College, and a degree in diamonds and diamond grading from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Ready to pop the question?
If you are in the market for an engagement ring, Quinn wants to make sure you make an informed choice and get just what you want. “This business is all about love,” he said. “When people come in here, they’re in love.

That’s one of the main reasons I like the engagement rings.” Ring boxes with lighted lids are also a specialty at Quinn’s, making for a more romantic and dramatic presentation, he suggested. But his first objective is education.

“I actually show you what it takes to make a diamond and what determines its value,” Quinn said. “If you buy a diamond from a salesman, he may not know.” (Most jewelry store owners either buy into the business or work for somebody, but they are not certified, he explained.) “Just because you work for a doctor doesn’t mean you can go perform surgery, and working for a jewelry store doesn’t make you a jeweler. I take the time to show you 20 different characteristics about the diamond. I also show you what De Beers charges me.”

As an example, Quinn brings out a glistening pear-shaped loose diamond, just over 4 carats in weight, available at Quinn’s for $67,000. The same diamond (SI2, F color) from De Beers would cost you $71,750, he said. “We are very conscious of our overhead. We are able to sell for a lot less because we don’t need the big margins.”

Darrel Quinn pictured with his wife Nancy Quinn.
Pear shape Swiss Blue Topaz surrounded by a halo of diamonds, it is set in 14Kt White Gold with an 18” Wheat Chain.

Unique in the industry by many standards, Quinn offers 100 percent trade-in value on all diamonds as long as you trade up by 20 percent. “If an engagement doesn’t work out, nobody’s going to buy it back,” Quinn said. “Most places say no or require you to trade up by double. With us, hang onto it until the right one comes along. I’ll buy it back as long as you trade up by 20 percent of more. That’s a policy we’ve had in place for 40 years.”
The policy also allows customers to buy what they can afford now and trade up later. For example, if you buy a pair of diamond earrings, “you already know they won’t be large enough,” Quinn joked. “You can always trade them in for a different size, different shape, different value. I will buy them back as long as you add 20 percent value.”

Beyond diamonds
Occupying only 800 square feet of retail space in the Village at Wexford, Quinn’s Diamond Jewelers carries a surprising amount of inventory to please every taste and budget. In addition to selling diamonds and a selection of fine jewelry, Quinn offers onsite repairs and custom-designed jewelry.

“The most important person in the business is the person behind the counter,” he said. “I have to know gemstones, metals, gold. I have to know how to design something so it wears—not just buy something from a manufacturer. Give me a picture of an item, and I can make it from scratch. I can also take your old jewelry and refurbish it to something new.”

Quinn’s wife Nancy, who works alongside him in the business, also has a degree in diamonds and does most of the buying for the store. Nancy said she seeks out unique jewelry lines that are less common in other area stores or department stores. For example, the PIYARO collection from Italy, combines sterling silver and gold with full-cut diamonds, resulting in dazzling pieces at a lower price point than the brand name manufacturer to which it most closely compares.

Island-themed pendants, earrings and charms are popular and affordable, along with convertible bracelets with interchangeable clasps to create a variety of looks, from casual to sophisticated.

Quinn’s also offers a line of simulated stones—perfect for vacation travel when you may not want to risk wearing your best jewels. Expertly crafted in sterling silver, bonded with platinum, yellow, or rose-gold, and handset with the world’s finest simulated diamonds, genuine gemstones, and lab created gemstones, every stunning Lafonn piece is affordable, wearable and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Prior to moving to Hilton Head Island to retire, the Quinns owned three jewelry stores in Illinois and Iowa. (One remains in Morrison, Illinois, and is owned and operated by one of the Quinn’s sons.) After about four months of golf lessons, Nancy got restless and suggested opening a small jewelry store on the island. Darrel, being the good sport he is, went along. In business on Hilton Head Island since 2009, the couple is thrilled with their location in the Village at Wexford and happy to be of service.

“I like the experience of having fun with my customers,” Quinn said. “I had colon cancer at age 43 and went through chemo. This is just materialistic stuff. That’s why I have fun. I try to always give everybody a positive outlook on life.”

Quinn’s Diamond Jewelers is located at 1000 William Hilton Parkway, G5, in the Village at Wexford. For more information, Call (843) DIAMOND (342-6663). Visit online at or friend them at Quinns-Diamond-Jewelers on Facebook.

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