Ismael S. Albarran designs some of his own jewelry, including this sapphire ring with gold and diamonds at Quail Valley Jewelers in Missouri City.
By Bethany Knipp | 12:00 PM Aug. 31, 2016
For 40 years, Ismael S. Albarran has been selling, repairing and designing jewelry in the Greater Houston area. His store, Quail Valley Jewelers—located at 2250 FM 1092, Missouri City—has been in town for 16 years where he and his family offer jewelry casting, cleaning and repair.
“My dad is a third-generation jeweler,” said Ismael Albarran, store operator and son of owners Ismael S. and Lucila Albarran.
Established in Missouri City in 2000, Quail Valley Jewelers sells 14-, 10- and 18-carat gold as well as sterling silver with stones including white diamonds, sapphires, blue topaz, turquoise and black diamonds.
“I would say the sterling silver is what sells the most,” the younger Ismael said.
In addition to retail, the store has the machinery necessary to do casting, cleaning and repair. The elder Ismael primarily did this work at other small jewelry stores before opening his own store, his son said.
“We kind of have the same tools as dentists have where they make a mold of your tooth,” the younger Ismael said. “We make a mold of a ring, and then we’ll cast it and make it into silver or gold or platinum—whatever the customer wants to make.”
Before owning Quail Valley Jewelers, the elder Ismael owned Sharpstown Jewelers with his brother for about 10 years at Fondren Road and Hwy. 59 in Houston.
Lucila said her husband learned the jewelry trade from his father upon moving to the United States from Mexico City about 40 years ago. But she also comes from a family of jewelers, she said. Their son joined the business a couple years after Quail Valley Jewelers opened. He operates the store and said many customers come in for repairs and gem replacement when something happens to their stones.
Due to the wear and tear from everyday activities, the younger Ismael recommends bringing jewelry in every six months to be checked for loose stones. Regular cleaning also keeps jewelry in good condition, he said.
Lucila estimated that repairs make up about 90 percent of the jewelry store’s business, but her husband is known for his casting services.
“Anything he does, he’s good at,” she said. “A lot of people ask for him for casting.”
The younger Ismael said the family is also trying to offer online ordering within the next couple of months.
His mother said keeping the jewelry store open has been a difficult feat because of the nature of the business. Over time, fewer people buy gold or buy jewelry at all, she said.
“If we tell people our story, nobody can believe us,” she said. “Nobody can believe how this business has been [able to] survive … It’s not that people need this every day.”
She said it is the repairs that keep the business steady.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I know God’s hands are there.”