Brinker's Jewelers Celebrates Their

50th Anniversary

It takes a lot of moxie to risk everything on a dream. In 1972, after several years working as a repairman for a local jewelry store on jewelry, watches, and electric razors of all things – Roland Brinker decided to go into business for himself.

In order to get started he sold the diamond from his wife’s engagement ring (Jeanette) and cashed in the cash value of a life insurance policy.

"The first day open I had one pearl ring, 3 empty showcases, and lot of heart."

- Roland Brinker, Founder

Five decades later, Brinker’s Jewelers has grown and evolved into a successful and respected independent jewelry retailer.

Most generational businesses leave their original retail space when they are ready to expand, but on the east side of Evansville, Indiana, the Brinker family found themselves in a fortunate position to expand right where they were when each of the neighboring businesses transitioned out of their retail spaces. 

In 1972 most of the town’s commerce was done downtown or on the north side of town, but Roland instinctively knew his store on South Green River Road was located in the heart of future community development.

Roland brought the bare essentials to his 500-square-foot jewelry store.

"All my grandfather had was a jeweler’s bench he crafted from parts of my father’s high-chair, used display cases, and a single piece of jewelry to put in them – a pearl ring set in 14kt yellow gold. That was it."

- Kyle Brinker, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer

With their first month’s rent free and their lease sealed on only a handshake, Roland and Jeanette opened Brinker’s Jewelers. 

Jeanette worked on the books in accounting and inventory in the early days while Roland did the trade work and sales. 

However, the early years were tough for them as 1972 was not an easy year to start a business with turmoil abroad and a challenging domestic economy.

Times were definitely lean growing up. Dean recalls as a child when his parents squirreled away change in a jar placed in the refrigerator.

Once a month, Roland and Jeanette would take their four boys out to dinner using the “cold cash,” as the money reserves came to be known in the family.

"My parents lived hand-to-mouth. They were able to get through it because of their sheer determination to make it work, along with the genuine, close relationships they formed with their customers."

- Dean Brinker, President and CEO

Hard work and persistence paid off for the family. Brinker’s retail space of 500-square-feet was sandwiched between a dry cleaner and barber shop. When the dry cleaner went out of business,  Brinker’s took over that additional 500 square feet. 

Years later, the barber shop left and they expanded again, knocking down walls and making Brinker’s Jewelers bigger and better along the way.

With the expansions also came the beginning of the second generation. Dean learned how to polish his first ring when he was just 8 years old and sold his first diamond at 15. When he turned 21, he began his full-time professional jewelry career. 

Like Dean, Dirk was working in the store at a young age cleaning the back rooms at 13. 

When he finished college in 1992, he came back to the store to work full time and has been here ever since. He now serves as Vice President of the company working alongside his brother Dean Brinker.

"Whenever we take in a piece of jewelry, I'm proud to say that we always treat it as if it were own. I think that was one of the principle things that he (Roland) installed in all of us."

- Dirk Brinker, Vice President

Brinker’s Jewelers’ incremental success over the years allowed the business to move and evolve to the point of bringing in notable jewelry and watch brands including: 

Their efforts, especially in timepieces, paid off when they became an Official Rolex retailer in 2006. 

Their headquarters in Evansville features two large onsite service centers. 

The jewelry service center features nine jewelers on staff that have over 200 years of combined experience in jewelry design, manufacturing, and repair. 

The watch service center features four certified watchmakers on staff, including a Rolex Apprentice, that repair timepieces. 

Brinker’s Jewelers watch service center is also recognized as a Rolex Plaque Service Center, which is the highest service distinction an Official Rolex Retailer can obtain. 

This means all service work provided by Brinker’s Jewelers comes with a two year international Rolex service guarantee when Brinker’s Jewelers works on a genuine Rolex timepiece.

"To have an operation of this magnitude is 100% – an evolution. You cannot just build this type of facility and expect it to have everything – most importantly, the relationships we have with the community, our customers, our staff and our retail partners."

- Kyle Brinker, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer

Dean’s son Kyle, represents the current and third generation of the family to work in the family business. 

Kyle likes to say he’s been working in the family business “since birth,” but as a young man he did pursue other opportunities outside of the jewelry industry in the corporate world to gain experience that he one day hoped would help with the family business. 

In 2006 he officially joined the company as its Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer.

The Brinker family has always loved the game of golf, and the family’s passion ultimately drove them into creating a residential development and golf course called Eagle Valley on Evansville’s northside. 

Roland and Jeanette oversaw the day-to-day operations at Eagle Valley Golf Course with their other sons and other family members, while Dean and Dirk grew the jewelry business. 

The golf course and jewelry business fed off one another for over 25 years until Roland and Jeanette’s retirement. The family recently sold the golf course as a land development for a future middle school to The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. 

It was the family’s personal passion for the game of golf as well as their understanding of the business side of golf that sparked an idea in the third generation of the family.

Kyle had the idea of adding an additional location to Brinker’s Jewelers and through his relationships in the golf community he found the perfect opportunity. 

Something the jewelry and golf industries had never seen before, a luxury jewelry store located on the grounds of an exclusive country club, complete with an onsite jeweler.

In April 2021, the Indiana jewelry retailer opened the first of its kind boutique concierge jewelry experience in Scottsdale, Arizona at the exclusive Silverleaf Club.

"What’s ironic is that the Silverleaf location, in a lot of ways, is a direct reflection of our beginnings in terms of size. The store is approximately 750 square feet, and has one jeweler onsite. The big difference, however, is that the Silverleaf location is quite upscale due to the community we are located in along with the products and services we offer."

- Kyle Brinker, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer

With steady business and solid relationships, at both locations, the Brinker family and their staff have had time to commemorate their milestone anniversary this year while planning for the future. 

A major renovation is taking place as part of their 50th anniversary celebration. 

Brinker’s Jewelers will soon be a 13,000-square-foot retail jewelry store with enlarged jewelry and watch repair centers along with a wholesale and manufacturing division.

"This 50th anniversary has caused all three generations to reflect on the sacrifices we’ve all made and has caused us to look back at all of our accomplishments. We feel very blessed and are extremely proud and grateful. We know this type of success would not be possible without our employees' hard work and our customers' support along the way."

- Dean Brinker, President and CEO

For now, the second and third generations are working strongly together with dreams and ambitions for future innovation. 

Innovation that can lead to future expansion in the jewelry industry for hopefully another 50 years and beyond.

3 Generations of the Brinker Family: Dean, Roland, Dirk, Kyle

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