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Aaron and Samantha Paris takes on new ownership of the Gem Den

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

On January 2, ownership of the Gem Den was officially transferred from the longstanding owner of 47 years, Ed Mays, to close friends Aaron and Samantha Paris. Aaron will run the day to day operations of the store while Samantha continues to be a mortgage lender at Profinium.

Mays will continue to stay on to help with repairs, product information, and mentoring Aaron "for many years to come."

Paris has been a high-end cabinet maker for 21 years with Watonwan Enterprises in Mountain Lake.

In the summer of 2019, the two started the initial talks for Paris to take over the Gem Den.

"Ed and I just talked one day, and he said 'hey, how would you like to take over the business' and I just thought 'what?'" said Paris. "I had no intentions of doing this. It just fell into my lap one summer afternoon and a glass of wine."

The original plans were for Paris to train under Mays' tutelage, coming into the shops after hours to learns the ins and outs of the business. If Paris enjoyed the business trade, then he would take ownership starting in 2022. With news of the Gem Den moving its location in December of 2020, Mays gave Paris three days to make his decision.

"The opportunity that was presented solely to me made me feel special," said Paris.

Paris said yes, and the decision was then made for Paris to take over at the start of 2021.

"I have known Aaron for many years, and he would be the 1 in 10,000 people that I would work this type of agreement with," said Mays. "He is very precise with his hands and work habits. He is good at his word, always on time, and just a good person."

Paris notes that the background as a cabinet maker has helped his transition as a jeweler. The eye for detail, hand-eye coordination, knowing specific properties of certain materials and how they react to each other, and precision required are all traits that are required in both fields.

"The need for perfection goes hand in hand with both trades," said Paris. "The high skill level of both trades. And that's what I love. I love being precise and having everything be absolutely perfect when it's done."

The learning curve of repairs and logging pieces of inventory has been an adjustment for Paris. 

Paris doesn't have any sweeping changes planned for the Gem Den but hopes to expand the online presence of the business and to reach a broader area to bring more out of town and out of area customers.