It all started with a passion for jewelry. While working as a special education teacher in Waterville, MN, Sally Nelson began selling jewelry out of an attaché case on her dining room table. She mostly sold gold fashion and engagement rings to acquaintances, but as word spread, more people came and sales increased.
With $2,500 of her own money, Sally left her job and went bank to bank requesting a loan to open her own jewelry business. With interest rates at 21 percent, gold over $800 an ounce and women-owned businesses a rarity, she was turned down several times until one banker finally said ‘yes.’
In 1980, Exclusively Diamonds opened its doors on the fourth floor of the historic Matt J. Graif office building in downtown Mankato. It was the closest spot to the major retail district in the area during that time.
In the mid 80s, Sally’s daughters, Betsy and Sarah, joined their mother at the store. Betsy, a skilled craftsman, became an in-store goldsmith, which proved to be a strong asset to the business. Sarah took after her mother and began selling jewelry part-time. The early 90s brought big changes to the store. Betsy married and moved out of town and Sarah had two children who spent their first 10 months in the back of the store. Everyone pitched in by selling diamonds in the front and rocking and feeding the babies in the back. After hiring more sales staff to support the growing business, Sally decided in 1998, to retire from the business and sell the store to Sarah. As the store continued to evolve and expand, Sarah decided to relocate the store to its present location in the heart of Mankato’s hilltop retail district. Today, Exclusively Diamonds employs highly educated sales professionals, two Graduate Gemologists, a Certified Gemologist Appraiser, three in-store goldsmiths, Repair Department Manager, Office Coordinator, Marketing Director, and Controller. Over the years, the staff has circled the globe to expand the knowledge, products and skills associated with the jewelry industry. Trips to South Africa to purchase diamonds directly from the cutting factory, to flying to events to buy the latest designs and trends, help keep Exclusively Diamonds on the cutting edge.
We are an American Gem Society member and rank in the top 5 percent of elite independent jewelers in the nation. Top designer brands like Hearts On Fire, Simon G, Naledi and PANDORA are sold at Exclusively Diamonds. In addition, we are an official Rolex Jeweler.
Our mission today, as it has always been, is to be the jeweler of choice by building a legacy of integrity and trusted pricing in fine quality jewelry; to provide customers with memorable, rewarding and legendary experiences every time they shop the store; and to serve the customers, the local and global community, and God.
It all started with a passion for jewelry and after 37 years of continued business, it’s that same passion that keeps us going.