In 1926, when watchmaker and repair whiz Charles London first opened shop in Glen Cove, LI, he sensibly focused solely on clocks and timepieces. But as the stylish ’20s roared (and his children nudged), his store soon expanded to dazzling jewelry.
“My grandparents were right on the cutting edge of the trends and the times,” recounts his great-granddaughter, Randi Udell-Alper (below), now vice president of her family’s London Jewelers. “They always had something for everyone, which is a tradition we continue today.”
Indeed, the maison now offers more than 65 luxury jewelry and watch brands housed in more than a dozen shops — including its original location in Glen Cove, LI, its more-than-20,000-square-foot flagship at the Americana Manhasset, various outposts in East Hampton, Southampton and Long Island (including Wheatley Plaza), as well as a new Manhattan Oculus location at Westfield World Trade Center and several TWO by London engagement-ring boutiques, created by LJ vice president Scott Udell.
London Jewelers’ record-setting selection of labels, along with its focus on family and loyalty, has kept customers returning over generations.
“We get to see people for all these wonderful milestones throughout their lifetime, and we get to help them celebrate,” Udell-Alper marvels. “We guide them through some of the biggest purchases of their lives and they keep coming back — there’s nothing like trust.”
Udell-Alper should know: She grew up (quite literally) in the store. “I remember sitting on my dad’s lap and shoulder, watching everything that was going on,” she tells Alexa. “I used to have Shabbat dinner in the store every week with our family — we were always there. I started with the basics, wrapping presents during the Christmas season.”
She also embraced her artistic flair, designing a “silly” bracelet collection in high school. Later, at Boston University, while other underclassmen were partying, she created her own small jewelry line and sold it to local stores (“It’s in my blood,” she laughs). She would go on to intern with David Yurman, take courses with the Gemological Institute of America and land a job at Honora, designing its pearl-focused line for QVC. (Her training paid off: In 2004, she was awarded the title of designer of the year by the network.)
But Udell-Alper (now married and a mother of two young daughters) was eventually eager to return to London Jewelers, where she relishes working with her parents, Mark and Candy Udell (who took the business from one store to more than 12), brother Scott Udell and cousin Zach Udell.
“I’m so grateful and lucky,” she says. “Work is family and family is work, and there are no words to describe how amazing that feels.”
‘Work is family and family is work, and there are no words to describe how amazing that feels.’
Her brother, Scott, agrees. “There’s nothing more rewarding than working with your family and loved ones every day,” he says. “We each have our own niche and specialty.”
Case in point? Udell-Alper and Candy took mother-daughter bonding to another level when they were invited to design the elaborately bejeweled Victoria’s Secret “Fantasy” bras together in 2011 and 2012. “It was the most incredible project that I’d ever done with my mom,” Udell-Alper says. “We loved it.”
The pair continues to work side-by-side, designing the London Collection house line, which Candy (who’s received many lifetime achievement awards in the industry) launched about 15 years ago. That rapidly expanding label includes pieces ranging from $99 to $1 million.
“Something for everyone!” Udell-Alper says, echoing her grandparents’ philosophy. “We know how to go to the source — we travel the globe.”
Likewise, customers and luxury brands from around the world are drawn to their blend of sophisticated jewelry knowledge and approachable charm.
“Everything we do is about relationships,” Udell-Alper explains. “We spend weekends and vacations with our customers and brand directors. We love what we do.”
Both she and her brother, Scott, are now preparing their own children to become part of the fifth generation of London. The kids already love coming by the store and observing, just like their parents did.
So with Mother’s Day approaching, does Udell-Alper have any jewels on her own wish list? (No pressure, girls!)
“I’d love something from my husband and my daughters that they engrave, so that it has sentiment and commemorates love,” she says.
We have a hunch where they might find just the thing.
Floating on the Med and suddenly feel the need for a new bauble? Not to worry.
“We’ll go anywhere to anybody, no matter where you are. On a boat, on a plane, in your office, in a doctor’s office, in another country — we’ve been everywhere,” says Randi Udell-Alper, explaining London Calling, the cleverly named, on-demand concierge service she oversees for London Jewelers.
So if you’re stuck at the office with no time to browse for a wedding gift, or under the dentist’s drill when you suddenly remember it’s your spouse’s birthday, Udell-Alper and her team (including a security detail) will swoop in to save the day (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“We bring you a million options, so there’s no pressure, no stress,” she says. “Everybody’s busy these days, nobody has time to go out and go shopping.”
‘We bring you a million options, so there’s no pressure, no stress.’
The jeweler points out that the alternative — shopping for bijoux or watches online — isn’t as easy-breezy as ordering Seamless. “To buy pieces on the Internet of this value and importance? Why not just let us come to you?”
Clients often invite her into their closets so they can coordinate clothing and jewels. Or, like a treasured physician, she’ll make middle-of-the-night house calls to shoppers visiting NYC from abroad.
“It’s no big deal,” she says. “We want to make it easy and the best experience for everyone.”