BY BROOKE BOUCEK
You’ll find three generations of the Steed family at work at Southeastern Jewelers in Inverness. Louis Steed started the business in 1952 and still does jewelry repairs. His sons, Mike and David, work for the business today.
Mike’s daughter, Jessica Steed Landmon, thought she’d never work in the family business, but after graduating from UAB, she was drawn back to where her heart was—the jewelry business.
“Being a part of people’s lives in all different periods from engagement rings to anniversary and first baby pieces is the best part of working in the business,” Landmon said.
Although not blood-related, even the other staff are very much a part of this family business. Many of them have been working for the business since the 1980s and even earlier. Together the staff has around 300 years of combined experience.
Behind counters of sparkling diamond rings, necklaces and earrings is a large workshop space for repairs and designing original pieces. It is there that 90 percent of jewelry brought in for repair is completed in-store. Many other jewelry stores send their work out to be repaired for customers.
“When someone gives us a piece of jewelry, it stays in our hands,” Mike Steed said.
They also offer hand engraving, which Mike Steed calls a “lost art” in the jewelry business.
And that’s the way things have always been at Southeastern. Louis Steed’s father-in-law taught him the jewelry repair business, and he soon became known as “the jeweler’s jeweler” throughout the Southeast before opening his own store in downtown Birmingham almost 60 years ago.
“It’s a retail business with wholesale roots,” said Mike Steed.
The store later moved to the 280 Station shopping center and then to their current location on Valleydale Road in 2005.
While buying new jewelry became less popular during the recent economic downturn, Southeastern has completed many repairs and created new settings for older pieces. Thanks to their on-site workshop, the jewelry store has been able to maintain a steady flow of profit while still maintaining the ethics it was founded upon.
“Our business is based on integrity, honesty and always putting the customer first,” Mike Steed said.
One woman living in Arizona called the store after her wedding ring was stolen. Southeastern had made the ring in 1976 and was able to pull the woman’s file from that date in order to remake the piece just like the original.
Any member of the extended Steed family will happily offer this same level of service to you and help select a gift for your special someone. For Valentine’s Day, Mike Steed recommends something classic like pearls, diamond studs, a simple diamond pendant or a tennis bracelet.
5299 Valleydale Road, Suite 111
Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.