OCEAN CITY – After 33 years of service, Liljenquist and Beckstead Jewelers located in the Gold Coast Mall regretfully announced this month it’s closing.
The family business began in 1979 when it was founded by college buddies and business partners Tom Liljenquist and Sid Beckstead.
Before Liljenquist and Beckstead came along, they opened their first store on the Ocean City Boardwalk, the Jewel Box. At one time, the two ran five businesses in Ocean City at one time.
“They were venture capitalists,” Sherrie Beckstead said.
While the founders’ venture was taking off, the Gold Coast Mall was being constructed and that’s where they decided to add a second business, which became Liljenquist and Beckstead.
“The two guys saw an opportunity to have a little bit of a nicer line of jewelry,” said Sid’s brother, Richard Beckstead, a partner in the company. “There really wasn’t anybody in Ocean City offering higher-end merchandise so they took another risk and decided to open a store to sell better things and that’s when Liljenquist and Beckstead started.”
The company’s start in Ocean City branched off into six other locations in Maryland and Northern Virginia.
“They took this amazing operation that they started on the Boardwalk and it grew to an upscale fine jeweler that is now one of the top jewelers,” Sherrie Beckstead said. “I am amazed at what these guys have done. It is one of the finest luxury jewelers in the country and it started in Ocean City so it is very sad for us to close the doors here.”
Richard Beckstead explained that the company found itself in a touch position when it came to the Ocean City location.
“We haven’t arrived at this easily,” he said. “The economy is lousy and it has gotten harder and harder … with the economy going down and the price of everything going up, it is a bind.”
Sherrie Beckstead said the Ocean City store has served their family with a “plethora” of memories. Her daughter, Jessica, has recently recalled spending many nights working on her homework in the store’s back office and placing the drapes over the jewelry cases before closing time.
“This is what we know,” Sherrie Beckstead said. “This is our home, and it will always be our home. It is hard to take something that is such an integral part of who and what we are and leave it behind but it’s a prudent decision, and I think those are the most emotionally difficult.”
She added that Liljenquist and Beckstead brought a level of luxury and elegance to Ocean City.
“We have a wonderful, loyal client base that we know will come visit us in Annapolis and our other locations,” she said. “We are looking forward to continuing those relationships that we have worked so closely with.”
The company takes pride in individually selecting each piece of jewelry available in their stores.
“We are hands-on family business,” Richard Beckstead said. “We desire to show the best.”
In conjunction with the quality of merchandise, the company also takes pride in the level of service provided to its clients.
“We have world renowned quality in craftsmanship,” Richard Beckstead said.
Liljenquist and Beckstead’s chief goldsmith is currently re-setting Marie Antoinette’s crown for the Smithsonian Museum. He has also re-set the Hope Diamond twice.
Richard Beckstead concluded that “it is too soon to tell” if the family will return to open a business in Ocean City in the future.
“We have not ruled any of those options out” Sherrie Beckstead said.