Established in 1996, Legend Jewelers started out as a small local business. Since then, it has expanded into one of the finest jewelry stores in the Concho Valley. The building is located in Historic Downtown at 18 E. Concho Avenue and is home to some very unique history.
When you visit the store, while you are contemplating the surprising beauty of the Concho Pearls, you may hear footsteps from up above. You're not imagining things. The upstairs of this particular jewelry store is the home to none other than Miss Hattie's Bordello Museum.
Yes! The building that was once home to a saloon and bordello is now one of the finest locally owned stores in town.
This unique attribute helped Mark Priest and his team earn the title of America's Coolest Store in 2001 by Instore Magazine. They have also been featured in an episode of The DayTripper (2016) and voted Best Jewelry Store in San Angelo (2017).
"Every craft has tools. And every craftsman is judged by how he uses the tools of his trade. That's not new or hardly profound. At Legend Jewelers we believe in a simple fact: Our craft is jewelry. And we use the tools of our trade with skill, care and emotion: To create an amazing custom design...to painstakingly repair a family treasure...or simply set a stone. The skill comes from training and years of experience. The care comes from understanding how important your jewelry is to you. And the emotion comes from a deep appreciation of what jewelry is. Beauty & Magic."
- Mark Priest
Mark Priest (Owner)
Graduate Gemologist (G.G.), Gemological Institute of America. Diploma received 1984. Bart Mann Jewelers: Jewelry designer, buyer and sales associate 1976 through April 1995. Bart Mann Jewelers: Resident Gemologist 1982 through April 1995. Legend Jewelers: President, April 1995. Charter Member, Gemological Institute of America Alumni Association, North Texas Chapter, 1984. Current member of GIA-AAA Lone Star Chapter. Associate Member, American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), Member, Jewelers of America President, Texas Jewelers Association 2008-2010 Area of specialization: natural, freshwater pearls of Texas Legend Jewelers Memberships: Member, Retail Jewelers Organization, (RJO) Member, American Gem Society (AGS) Rated, Jewelers Board of Trade.
What is your favorite gemstone and why?
Without a doubt my favorite gemstone is the pearl. They can be so beautiful and in every color of the rainbow. Our local Concho Pearls are not only rare, they are natural and natural pearls are virtually an endangered gem these days.
What does your dream piece of jewelry look like?
That would have to be a blending of various precious gemstones. We recently designed a ring featuring Lotus Garnet (which is an intense blush wine color) accented by bright yellow and pastel blue sapphires. I submitted the ring to a jewelry design competition hosted by the Texas Jewelers Association and it won first place!
I’m working more with NON-traditional stones such as dinosaur bone (called gembone) and chrysophrase for very unique one-of-a-kind creations.
In your opinion, what’s most important in a diamond? Size, color, cut or clarity?
The most important aspect of diamond grading is CUT. Regardless of the color or clarity, you will never see the true beauty of the diamond without a top quality cut. This is a major reason we travel to Belgium each year. We are able to buy directly from the cutters and focusing on only those manufacturers who cut the finest diamonds.
What is your favorite thing about working at Legend Jewelers?
I’ve been working in the jewelry business for 44 years. Our specialty is custom design jewelry. I get personal and up close when designing a new piece because the gemstones and metal already have a history. The best days are the ones when we deliver a hand created masterpiece. Many times these custom designs contain generations of diamonds and gemstones brought back to life for yet another generation to enjoy. And I’m really really good at custom work and weaving the past into a new a new creation.
Without naming anyone,,, describe your most interesting interaction with a customer (or vendor).
That is a really tough request. I have thousands of stories from thousands of families. Many times I know more about the jewelry than the family because I sold the sapphire ring that Grandpa bought Grama in 1979!
But here is a favorite…
One gorgeous West Texas day, a young couple came in followed by three or four other people. The young man introduced himself, his girlfriend and the other family members. He wanted to design and create an engagement ring using family diamonds and gold. Once I went through what we had to work with, I asked the other family members about the history of almost all of the pieces. We had more than enough materials to make the design the girlfriend (and soon to be fiancé) wanted. I separated the diamonds and gold into two groups: a “his” group and a “her” group. All said and done (and unbeknownst to either “he” or “she”), I created an engagement ring where all of the stones from his family were on one side of the ring and the diamonds from her family on her side of the ring. Set down around the finger on the side of the shank of the ring (on the “her” side) was a single small diamond that came from the girlfriend’s GREAT-grandmother. I also charted where all of the diamonds had come from and from WHO! The NOW-fiancé cried when she came in and I gave here a little booklet with copies of all my notes recording the story of her wedding ring. On days like that, I soooo love what I do!