As London Jewelers celebrates 95 years of dazzling locals with its beautiful baubles, we gather the stories behind all those sparkling gems.
Second-generation London Jewelers family members Fran and Mayer Udell
A local institution, London Jewelers is a dazzling part of East End history. We checked in with Candy Udell, president of London Jewelers, to get the story behind the beautiful brand.
Tell us a little bit about London Jewelers’ history. Charles London, the founder of London jewelers, arrived in America from Poland in the 1920s. He landed in the city of Glen Cove. Charles was a watchmaker, and he established his relationships with many of the local estates and families by going to their homes to wind and repair the eight-day clocks that were so popular in the era. In 1926 after many of his clients asked him to give them more service by purchasing watches and jewelry, he opened a small store in the downtown area of Glen Cove. London Jewelers was established in 1926. He then brought over his family to the USA. His daughter Fran London loved the business so much that she decided to work with her dad. Together they ran London until she married Mayer Udell.
Mayer, who was not in the business, decided to join and learned the trade of watchmaking. The rest is history!
How have the generations been involved over the years? Their son Mark Udell grew up always wanting to be part of the family business having spent his childhood in the store. When Mark graduated from the University of Miami, he came up North to work in the business. He brought another new member of the family having met [me] at college. We married and I joined the business.
London Jewelers’ East Hampton storefront
Here it was... Fran and Mayer... Candy and Mark. Four people working together side by side every day. This was 1973. Having realized the potential of the business, Mark and Candy worked to take London Jewelers to another level. The first step was to contact Rolex, and after two years of calling, the salesman finally came to visit one day. He opened the account, which was a huge milestone. From there, we decided to advertise Rolex in The New York Times, and this brought us customers. As we saw more people shopping with us, we decided to go to other brands—Cartier, Patek Philippe, all of these brands welcomed us into their world.
One store became two. Wheatley Plaza opened in 1980 with brands having their own sales cases, which had never been done in the industry before. This was a first to take jewelry and watch brands and separate them to give them their own recognition.
In 1984 there was room to grow and open a shop in the Americana in Manhasset. East Hampton opened its doors in 1996 in a sleepy, quaint little village with a wonderful history. The historical building that was the VFW hall on Main Street became our flagship store here in the Hamptons. London has been servicing the East Hampton community for 25 years.
The East Hampton location interior
Southampton opened a few years later, another beautiful location to offer some of the world’s finest gems and timepieces. And after a few years of needing more space, the Manhasset store that opened in the back of the center then moved in 1996 to the front of the Americana shopping center, positioning itself front and center. As it stands today, the Manhasset flagship store is almost 20,000 square feet housing the finest luxury brands in the world. There is no other store like Manhasset in the world we are proud to say.
We housed many brands within the one store until, as luck would have it, the next-door spot opened up. Thinking who to ask to become a partner with, we decided to ask Cartier to open a boutique with us. The answer was yes! And as you can imagine, we were thrilled realizing the potential of what could be. Thankfully our landlord and second father, Frank Castagna, saw that potential also. From there, we added the other boutiques of prestigious names from the jewelry industry. Today London Jewelers stands proud to partner with Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Audemars Piguet, Bvlgari, David Yurman, the finest luxury jewelry maisons and international timepiece brands in the world. While building these most treasured and valued relationships, London started its own collections, adding to our branding as well.
Generations three and four of the London Jewelers family with Zach, Randi, Mark, Candy and Scott Udell
London now represents over 30 of the finest timepiece and jewelry brands in the world all housed under one umbrella. London Jewelers is now fourth generation. Mark and Candy’s children Randi and Scott have joined in the family business along with cousin Zach Udell. Each of the fourth generation filled with passion and dreams are building their own talents and style, making London as proud and strong as ever. Bringing their own talents and skills: Randi—the style-maker setting trends, making our Instagram as popular as ever; Scott, with the GIA certifications, is passionate about diamonds, opening the TWO By London boutiques specifically for engagement and wedding band sales; Zach handling the watch end of the business, being an expert on every brand and vintage as well. We are very blessed to have our children and nephew in the business with us working side by side every single day. They bring us so much joy… and are confident that they will take London to the fifth generation to come! Their insight and trend spotting and business acumen make Mark and me very proud.
When we started working with Fran and Mayer in the 1970s, we never imagined what London Jewelers would become today. It has been the most exciting and wonderful road to build a heritage brand for our family and for future generations to come.
What new collections have you added this season or will you add soon? Special Buccellati high jewelry pieces have been visiting us for the past few months. The collection, dubbed Il Giardino di Buccellati, was inspired by florals within the famed Italian painter’s work. We encourage you to come check out these intricate pieces of wearable art.
What other news can we share for the fall? We want Hamptonites to know that we aren’t just a high-season store. Keep visiting us all year long for rotating selections of new products and the same level of service you have come to expect at any London Jewelers location. We are planning our fall schedule and the London watch fair, which always highlights the newest products in the timepiece industry, and our Italian event celebrating Italy’s finest luxury jewelry houses.
As we come upon our 95th year London is still growing with the addition of more boutiques opening in Short Hills. The newest addition will be a Rolex boutique that will be 3,200 square feet opening this September. We are proud and excited to partner with Rolex and honored to be part of the Rolex family. In 2022 London will also open a London Jewelers store housing all luxury jewelry brands and a special partnership with Patek Philippe. As a family, we love exciting new projects... and this fall is the time for it!
How has the business grown and blossomed in ways you never anticipated? We’ve expanded to six London Jewelers stores and seven vendor-branded boutiques, plus added our TWO By London engagement shops and a dedicated Watch Salon. Our digital business continues to grow, driven by a very strong social media presence. Every day, through our passion, commitment and hard work, we honor what Charles London began over nine decades ago.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF LONDON JEWELERS; STORE PHOTO BY ANDREA BRIZZI