“It has been an interesting journey.”
That is how Unicorn Jewelry & Watch Boutique owner Fred Nasseri described the past four decades of his family’s business in Rancho Bernardo.
To celebrate the store’s 40th anniversary – postponed a year due to the pandemic – everything is up to 40 percent off through Tuesday, May 10. For those wondering, the ruby is the gemstone associated with the milestone.
Nasseri opened Unicorn Jewelry in May 1981 as a 21-year-old, following in the footsteps of his maternal family who were jewelers in their native Iran.
“My father’s side were physicians and my mother’s were jewelers,” Nasseri said. “I learned from my grandfather and the past 40 years have been very good schooling. I’ve always loved creating. ”
Nasseri said he came to the United States as a 17-year-old.
“I came all by myself … (because of) my thirst for freedom, the beauty of the United States,” he said. “It’s a beacon of hope for so many.”
Other family members were able to come to the US following the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79, he said.
“They left behind everything,” Nasseri said, explaining his family was able to rebuild their lives due to the opportunities the United States offers.
Among those relatives were his sister, Minoo Anvari, who by 1985 joined her brother as an owner. Also becoming an owner was their father, Dr. Said Nasseri.
“It’s almost unbelievable,” Anvari said about being in business for 41 years. “It is a very pleasant, unbelievable feeling. We have had such loyal, wonderful clients who have helped us carry on the torch. ”
Nasseri said Unicorn Jewelry is the last original store in The Plaza. He opened the store in a 444-square-foot space with just three cases. Staying in the same location but expanding into adjacent space over the years, the store now covers more than 3,000 square feet.
He recalled that people told him in 1981 that he was “crazy” for opening a jewelry store in Rancho Bernardo’s new shopping center.
It has not been an easy 41 years. Nasseri recalled the Great Recession of 2008 and more recent challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said for the first five years he never took a day off and that need to work remained for him and his sister for many years.
Their work ethic and the relationships they built with customers helped them get through the past couple of years.
“The only thing that kept us going was the community who stood solidly with us,” Nasseri said, adding that 80 percent of their customers are due to word of mouth.
When talking about the pandemic, Nasseri said, “I called 20 customers per day for 60 days, that’s 1,200 customers. A lot of appointments were one-on-one. It was not easy and one of the biggest challenges we had, but the community came through. It was so heartwarming. ”
Unicorn jewelry offers all types of jewelry services in one location with its six jewelers and a full-time watchmaker on staff. Nasseri said their employees have all worked there from 10 to 25 years.
“It has become a team dedicated to jewelry,” he said. “The longer they stay the more knowledgeable they are and they have established relationships with customers.”
Nasseri said quality jewelry becomes family heirlooms passed down for generations, becoming part of a family’s history.
“One of my biggest joys is to have three generations in front of me,” he said, recalling how he saw babies brought in by their parents grow up and decades later come in to buy engagement rings. “There are brides that I saw in strollers,” he said.
Anvari said designing jewelry pieces, especially with stones from family heirlooms, into new pieces that younger generations will wear is her favorite aspect of the business.
““ I’ll take a ring from their grandparents, that they inherited … take the diamond and create something new. … I am reusing jewelry from their parents and grandparents, combining the past with the future forever, ”Anvari said.
She said their clients are the reason they have succeeded for so long in the careers that they love.
“The beauty of the job is that it is more personal, a family business, not just a relationship between salesperson and client, but three generations,” Anvari said. “That has been a great honor for us.”
It is because of the community’s loyalty to his family that Nasseri said he has felt an obligation to give back anytime they can.
The store frequently donates jewelry to various causes, such as the Soroptimists’ Hats & Heels fundraiser and the Miss Rancho Bernardo pageant.
Nasseri said he also contributes his time through memberships that include the Rancho Bernardo Sunrise Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club of Los Rancheros, Shriners International, the Rancho Bernardo Business Association and the LeTip of San Diego North networking group. He is also on the North San Diego Business Chamber board, the Palomar Health Foundation and its President’s Council.
Nasseri said he has no plans to retire.
“I still enjoy what I do … I get up and come to work with a smile when I walk through the door,” he said.
Unicorn Jewelry & Watch Boutique is at 16781 Bernardo Center Drive in The Plaza in Rancho Bernardo. It is open 10 am to 5 pm weekdays, 10 am to 4 pm Saturdays and closed Sundays. Its website is UnicornJewelry.com.
We’re on the lookout for news about businesses in Poway and Rancho Bernardo. Send your tips about new businesses, ownership changes, special offers or even business closings to Editor Susan Gill Vardon at email@example.com