Our 40th Anniversary
If Ferry Street is and remains Portuguese, it owes it largely to the longevity of establishments such as 'Vinhas Jewelers'. Founded in 1981 by the emigrants Fernando and Tina Vinhas, from the parish of Camarneira, Cantanhede, the emblematic store completes this October four decades of open door in the most Portuguese of the arteries of America.
"We are already a third generation of goldsmiths," notes Helena Vinhas, daughter of the founders and now co-owner, with brother Victor. "Our great-grandfather was already one, and as a walking goldsmith, he sold gold door to door."
Adds Victor Vinhas: "It's something that's already in our DNA."
When, in the 1960s, Fernando Vinhas emigrated to New Jersey, he began opening a jewelry shop in Kearny, in a partnership he kept for "a few years," Victor says. But it was in October 1981, after the acquisition of the 197 property on Ferry Street, that it would open on its own the original 'Jewelers Vineyards'. Brothers Victor and Helena, born in Canada and she was already in America, still at an early age, left school "and we went to our parents," helena says.
In December 2012, 'Vinhas’ opened its doors at 87 Ferry; for 7 years, they kept both stores, but in 2018 they focused only on the one they now keep open.
"In 1999 we lost our parents with an interval of a few months," says Helena Vinhas. "It was a difficult transition, my father was an amazing person, with a lot of intelligence and experience, an authentic goldsmith master."
His brother adds: "He worked until the last day of his life. He closed the shop, went home and passed away that night."
'Vinhas' offers a wide range of services and products, through a department of goldsmiths where they carry out reparations and even manufacture jewelry of origin "and to the taste of the customer", stresses Helena, "in all kinds of material - white and yellow gold, platinum, silver, you named.”.
In the field of watchmaking, they carry out repairs, parts change, maintenance, changing glasses, bracelets and batteries. "We sell brands like Tag Heuer, Omega, Rolex, Gucci, Michael Kors, Seiko and Tissot, from $30 to $20,000," says Victor Vinhas.
Although today the clientele is more diverse, "who allowed the start of the store was the Portuguese community", says Victor, "and we never forgot that. Even today they are the bulk of the clientele - even when they move to other states, they continue to request our services."
The gold Portuguese 19.2 carat is the most sought after, in items such as rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and yarn for men. As is the artisanal filigree, more expensive, and the industrial, more into account - that are part of the much sought after and elaborate hearts of Viana, both as pendulum for the threads and in traditional earrings. Prices vary depending on the filigree-plated items in gold or solid gold. "We sold a heart of Viana for $10,000 that took nine months to make," Helena says.
Another dominant sector of business is diamond, widely used in engagement rings and wedding rings.
"What we like most is the coexistence with customers and the mutual respect that, over the years, we have been cementing", says Victor Vinhas. Helena says: "In 40 years we have learned a lot and continue to learn. We are very grateful to the community for the support they have always given us."