Gold & Carat Exchange began as many great businesses do, with a simple, inspired idea and a dedication to a specialized industry held only by those most passionate about it.
For Luis Junco, that passion only has grown since the company’s unofficial inception in 2001 while he was in the U.S. Marine Corps serving as a security guard at the American Embassy in Moscow, Russia.
“I still get excited thinking about it,” he said. “I was walking around Chinatown in New York City and saw all this jewelry. I had a little money on me and thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to buy some jewelry and resell it.’ I bought between $1,500 to $2,000 worth of jewelry knowing I was going to be deployed overseas not long after, thinking that I was going to sell it to the Marines I was stationed with. I got to my station and within a few months I sold it all.”
Having kept business cards from several of the retailers he visited in Chinatown, Junco called them and ordered more jewelry. His stock sold out even faster this time. Soon, he was known as “the jeweler” in Moscow for the Marines and embassy personnel.
Returning stateside, he earned a degree at the Gemological Institute of America in California and in 2008 opened his first store, Countrywide Gold Buyers in Rhode Island. For the next six years the business expanded to 23 locations throughout the country to include diamond sales and distribution, precious and semi-precious stones and metals, new and certified pre-owned jewelry, repairs, trade-ins, trade-ups and jewelry creation. As the business grew, so did its range of services. Countrywide Gold Buyers became a genuine full-service jewelry purveyor.
However, despite dealing with so many locations and such a big company, Junco claims the firm’s greatest commodity always has been its family business approach to great customer service.
“This is a business based not on necessity, but want,” he said. “You can get what you want from many different places, so in order for you to want to come to us we must offer something more than that. I believe it is the way we treat our customers in addition to our prices and high standards of quality that makes the difference.
“We can compete with even the biggest jewelry businesses out there in price, quality and selection, but when it comes to service they cannot compete with us. That is why our slogan is ‘Not Your Ordinary Jewelry Store,’” he added.
The business was rebranded to Gold & Carat Exchange in 2014 to reflect its ever-growing scope and scale. Junco continues to prioritize the virtues of trust, honesty and reputation that have earned more than 100,000 satisfied customers to date. The company hopes to expand to every state in the U.S. in the next five-10 years, with additional stores in the near future in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beaches and Naples.
“We have been dealt a really great hand and we couldn’t be any more grateful,” Junco said.
“We love every bit of what we do. When I look back, it feels wonderful to have done so well and I really attribute that to the fact that when it comes to our business we hold honesty, trust and reputation in the highest regard. When you’re honest and do things correctly, good things happen.”
Gold & Carat Exchange offers a multitude of services including diamond, gold and silver purchasing and sales; design, crafting and appraisals of any jewelry; repair of all watch brands, and free cleaning and inspection of jewelry. Customers receive a free gift with every jewelry sale or purchase.
Locations for Gold & Carat Exchange include The Falls, 8888 SW 136 St., Suite 386; London Square, 13630 SW 120 St., Suite 214, and Carter Square, 13644 SW 88 St. For more information on other locations, deals and specials, visit www.goldandcarat.com.