Van Drake Jewelers: 60 years of trusted service in West St. Paul

Left to right, Jim Aubol - Goldsmith; Donna Ishii - president; Craig Ishii - vice president & Registered Jeweler; Cathy Ishii - sales associate; Kyle Ishii - Accredited Jewelry Professional

Van Drake Jewelers on Robert Street has been West St. Paul’s most trusted source for jewelry since 1957, and this year will mark its 60th anniversary.  

Owner Craig Ishii’s motto for the family-operated store is: “More than jewelry, we’re the people you trust.” And the customers who keep coming back know that Van Drake is more than just a jewelry store. 

“Any jeweler has jewelry,” Ishii says, “but what really makes us stand out is our people.”

The staff is skilled, highly trained and accredited through the top industry organizations like the Gemological Institute of America, the American Gem Society, and the Jewelers of America. 

Van Drake is also a member of the Retail Jewelers Organization, a network of hundreds of independent jewelers. Ishii says being a member allows Van Drake to have the buying power of the largest chains in the industry. “And we get the same pricing deals like they do,” he says.

Van Drake Jewelers has the latest in jewelry trends, such as the Twogether rings, earrings and necklaces mounted with two major diamonds. 

Another popular line is the Rhythm of Love series. “It’s a new technique of setting diamonds that allows the diamond to move within the design,” Ishii says. “Just the slightest motion -- her heart beat -- will cause the diamond to shimmer or sparkle.” The new technique adds to the sparkle and shine of the stones. 

Besides having a full showroom, Van Drake also offers full jewelry services. From watch and jewelry repair to engravings, appraisals, bead stringing and even restyling, customers have peace of mind in knowing their items will be handled with care and expertise, and never leave the premises.

“We do the simplest things to total custom design. From watchband adjustments and battery replacements to full restorations. We have a full line of jewelry, and if you don’t see what you like, we can most likely get it or make it,” he says. 

Robert Van Drake, one of the first American Gem Society members in the St. Paul area, opened Van Drake Jewelers in 1957, which Ishii’s father later purchased, keeping the name and continuing the membership and tradition of the AGS store. Today, Ishii works with his son Kyle, who has studied goldsmithing, gemology and is learning the family business.

Ishii says he’s proud to be an independent, longtime small business on South Robert. He is involved in local community activities, and provides the crowns and tiaras for the West St. Paul Royalty, and regularly participates in the Kiwanis Club’s West St. Paul Days fundraiser.  

As the storeowner, he gets to know his customers personally and has seen generations of families come through the Van Drake doors over the years. 

To celebrate the store’s 60 years in business, Van Drake Jewelers will be holding promotions and events throughout the year. Like them on Facebook or stop by the store for updates.

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