Newcastle business shares 20th anniversary with city
March 5, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
The new business cards still had the warmth of a fresh printing when husband and wife Wayne and Joan Underwood decided to open a jewelry store along Coal Creek Parkway in 1994.
The cards read “Highlands East Jewelers,” but the name was shortly scrapped when the city of Newcastle was incorporated. Thus, Newcastle Jewelers was born.
“It was a new city, and we thought we’d support them with this name,” Joan said.
Flash forward two decades, and both the store and the city are still going strong as the two entities celebrate their 20th anniversaries.
Not much has changed at the store since it opened its doors, except for the color of his now grey hair, Wayne quipped.
The family jewelers still live by the motto, “If you want it, we’ll do it,” led by Joan, a gemologist, and Wayne, a certified craftsman, buoyed by years of apprenticeship all done locally. They can repair or create almost anything.
They have added two members to the staff in Sylvia Mauerman, a Newcastle resident who has patronized the store since its inception, and Mingo, the small white poodle who doubles as the store watchdog.
Watch repair, charm bracelets, clocks, rings, gems and more, if you need it, Joan and Wayne have it at their store, and they do it all in house.
“As a consumer, you feel that your things are special to you and you want to make sure that there’s no problem,” Mauerman said. “You feel safe and secure when you leave them with Wayne and Joan.”
Newcastle Jewelers has a few famous clients in Seattle Seahawks players. It makes sense, Mauerman said, since the practice facility is just a few minutes from the store.
Wayne and Joan even did the weddings rings for Seahawks center Max Unger and his wife Leah.
“They’re just people like everybody else,” Joan said. “I don’t think they want to be treated differently, I don’t think they expect to be treated differently and I don’t expect to have to treat them differently.”
The store’s seen the gamut of style preferences in its 20 years, Joan said. One year, platinum would be big; another year, it would get supplanted by yellow gold.
“We try to stick with things that are more classic, that don’t run in and out, like the clocks we carry and pearls,” Joan said.
While Newcastle Jewelers hasn’t changed much, the same can’t be said of the community around it.
Wayne and Joan have seen their fair share of revolving neighbors in the Coal Creek Village plaza. They were once surrounded by a Hallmark store, a boutique, a Boston Market and a Blockbuster Video store.
The shop has literally grown up with the 20-year-old city, allowing Wayne and Joan to bear witness to some of its biggest events.
Joan, for example, vividly remembered the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.
“I remember the earthquake when it started. Wayne said, ‘Watch the vases,’ but luckily we didn’t have any damage here,” she said.
The Underwoods take pride in supporting the community, annually donating silent auction pieces to several schools, including Newport and Hazen. They also support local artists, displaying and selling their wares at the shop.
“I shop within 5 miles of here, because you need to support your community as well as take from it,” Wayne said.
Mauerman, a longtime resident and Newcastle Jewelers patron, said she has witnessed firsthand the Underwoods’ generosity. They have compassion for their customers and community, something you won’t likely see with chain-store jewelers.
“I really believe it’s an essential contribution to this business area,” she said.
For the Underwoods, they are just happy to be a part of Newcastle, supporting its residents’ jewelry needs as it has since the day the city was created.
“We’re just thankful that the community supports us,” Joan said. “It’s because of them that we’re still here.”