By Lanier Laney
Rosemary and Kevin Cuppia have owned and operated Modern Jewelers on Bay Street for more than 30 years.
Rosemary, a Beaufort native, met her husband Kevin — a transplant from New Jersey whose family moved to Hilton Head Island — when she was in the 10th grade at Beaufort Academy and he in the 11th. They both graduated from University of South Carolina with marketing management and merchandising degrees and in 1981 got married.
Modern Jewelers was originally started by Lester and Virginia Hiers in 1947. Rosemary’s dad, Carson
Rembert, took over as manager in the 1960’s, and later bought the business. Kevin and Rosemary worked together with her dad for a few years after college and then he offered them the opportunity to buy it. They jumped at the chance to stay in Beaufort and the idea of working together in their own business.
Today they have built the store into one of the best in the region, chosen as “Beaufort’s Favorite Jewelry Store” every year from The Island News, and “Best Jewelry Store” 10 years in a row from The Beaufort Gazette.
Rosemary says, “We have always tried to be a friendly family business, not stuffy or pretentious. Our staff becomes like family. I’d like to thank all those who have worked for our business over the years. It is our helpful and sincere staff that has won us the accolades.”
Their staff also includes their son Chase, whom they were proud to welcome to the family business four years ago.
Modern Jewelers has become a full service jewelry store under the Cuppias. Along with carrying a large selection of fine gemstone and diamond jewelry, and sterling silver designer lines, they also do jewelry repairs, custom jewelry, and even create jewelry from your very own designs. They offer engraving, watch repair and silver restoration. They also have extensive giftware selections with lines like Waterford, Wedgewood, Beatrice Ball, Reed & Barton, and, of course, they have a bridal registry.
Both Rosemary and Kevin believe strongly in giving back to the community. Says Kevin, “Our community has made us successful over the years and we feel obligated to give back. There is probably not a charity or fundraiser that we have not supported. I have been fortunate to have sat on the boards of the Hospital Foundation, Historic Beaufort Foundation, TMAC, Boys & Girls Club, Main Street Beaufort, and Sertoma. I was also fortunate to spend many years with the Water Festival, and was one of the earliest graduates of Leadership Beaufort.”
Rosemary adds, “We like that Beaufortonians are a caring and giving community. That is why Modern Jewelers stays committed to supporting so many charities and fundraisers.”
Kevin says that the philosophy of owning and running their own business is not original. He said, “Many know of it as the Rotarian Four Way Test — of the things we say, think or do: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
What the Cuppias love about living in Beaufort is waking up to sunrises over Factory Creek or sharing a glass of wine together watching the sun set over the bridge from their back porch. They also like going to work with the expectations of helping a client find the perfect gift.
“One of the most enjoyable aspects of our business is that we help create some of the most exciting moments in people’s lives,” said Kevin. “Helping a young teenager purchase his first promise ring, or the nervous young man pick out the perfect engagement ring for his bride-to-be. It’s great to be a part of such memorable birthdays and anniversaries.”
No description of the Cuppias and Modern Jewelers would be complete without mentioning Woodrow. Woodrow is the store’s snaggle-toothed boxer mascot that you usually see napping in the middle of one of the Cuppias’ elegant window displays. Woodrow came to work several years ago when Chase joined the team. And after all the university training the Cuppias got in merchandising and marketing, instructing them in ways to get customers to come in the store, Kevin says, “It’s been humbling to realize that all we needed to do was let a dog sleep on the floor. It’s amazing, people come in to see if he’s real. They come to take pictures and they bring friends and family to visit Woodrow. We had a couple who stay at Fripp come in just to see if Woodrow would be in, then ended up purchasing a very nice diamond pendant. This was something they did not teach us in our merchandising class,” he said with a laugh. And by the way, Woodrow gets lots of treats.
The Cuppias want to thank all their great customers and friends in Beaufort who have been such loyal supporters over the years.
In return, I’m sure everyone would like to thank the Cuppias for giving so much back to the community.