Due to the need of helping his family, Harry Cornell started working after he graduated from 8th grade. At the age of 16 in 197 Chatham St, Harry started taking in clock repairs for local jewelers as a side job while still working another full time job As an incentive for the jewelers to give Harry the work, he would pick up and deliver the clocks as part of the service he provided.
While the world was still suffering from the Great Depression, Harry was owed a year’s worth of back salary from his full time employer. With uncertainty about the future, Harry made arrangements with his employer to take compensation in the form of jewelry merchandise, and decided to go into business full time on his own.
Joined shortly thereafter by his brother, Maurice, Harry spent much of his time traveling regionally calling on jewelers in several states, while Maurice minded their office back in the Burke building in Rochester. In the following years, as the wholesale business grew to many small towns and cities, two other salesman joined the firm, along with a full time secretary and bookkeeper. The company was called “Harry Cornell & Co., Inc. The business grew, selling a wide variety of jewelry items wholesale, specializing in loose diamonds.
David Cornell, Harry’s son, had grown up going to work with his Dad on weekends. He would run errands, getting packages ready for the mail, help with inventory or whatever was needed. So when David turned 21, Harry invited David to join the company full time. David & Harry soon realized that David not only had an eye for buying and selling diamonds - he also had a passion for these glittering gemstones made billions of years ago.
Harry and his three partners sold the business to his son, David. The business flourished in those years in the Temple building downtown Rochester.
In the mid 90’s, the landscape of downtown Rochester was changing and David started looking at real estate for Cornell’s Jewelers to make it more convenient for his growing client.
After 74 years being located in downtown Rochester, Cornell’s moved to the suburban location at 3100 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY after 1 ½ years of renovation. David’s wife, Olivia was on site during the renovation and worked alongside David as they built their dream store from a small showroom in an office building downtown, to the brick free-standing store it is today. Olivia realized after the store was complete that it was time for a career change. Olivia has been in some form of retail business all her life so it wasn’t totally new, though the jewelry component part was. Before the ribbon was cut at the new location Olivia joined David at Cornell’s Jewelers.
After gutting the mishmash of offices at 3100 Monroe Ave in 1996-97, Cornell’s Jewelers was out growing their space and needed more parking. Finally, they obtained a parcel of land next to their building. Another extensive renovation project began on the building, which took over 18 months. Cornell’s Jewelers added 2 three story extensions which earned them the prestigious honor of “COOL STORE "by InStore magazine.
After graduating from Syracuse University, Michael Cornell, David’s son, went to the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad CA, becoming a Graduate Gemologist. After graduating, Michael moved to NYC, where he gained experience working in the jewelry industry. With the growth of Cornell’s Jewelers, all agreed that Michael would be a great asset to the growing business. With a little coxing and another ribbon cutting, Michael joined the business moving back from NYC.
Cornell's has grown to a fine jewelry store from a little showroom in a downtown office building now with full services being offered to our customers such as custom design work, jewelry and watch repairs, delivery, shipping, appraisal work, estate consulting, bridal needs, and personal shopping. Due to these many fine services, the volume of branded products, Cornell's has received numerous awards.
For three generations, Cornell’s Jewelers have been keeping romance alive! How do we do it? By selling diamonds, jewelry and watches that satisfy the professional eye as well as the eye of anyone who walks into our store. The Cornell family knows quality and value, and would never sell a diamond, jewelry or a watch that doesn’t meet our personal grade. In fact, less than 1-percent of the diamonds presented to us at Cornell’s actually make it into our store. Of course, even a perfect diamond is just a shiny rock without a great setting. That’s why we take such care to craft settings that complement the individual character of each diamond, with an end result that is simply stunning. At Cornell’s Jewelers we work hard so that you get so much more!
Cornell’s Jewelers features well known designers and brands like Breitling, Omega ForeverMark, Tacori, Hearts on Fire, Marco Bicego, Lagos and Memoire. Cornell’s Jewelers has a John Hardy Boutique featuring Bali-based designs with chic and organic jewelry. We also feature a Timepieces boutique; Affordable Chic boutique… whatever you’re looking for you can find it at Cornell’s Jewelers.
Cornell’s Jewelers brings nationwide excellence to the Rochester and upstate New York area. Cornell’s Jewelers is a certified member of the American Gem Society. Twice we were ranked by the New York State Jewelers Association as New York State’s Favorite Jewelry Retail Store, and Harper’s Bazaar calls us a leader in jewelry for our beautiful merchandising and our outstanding customer service. We were rated 2nd in the nation by INSTORE Magazine’s “Coolest Jewelry Store” contest. When you come to Cornell’s, you’re getting the best of the best – of the country, not just the Rochester area.
Come have a glass of wine, sip some espresso and nibble a cookie, or check out the scores of all your favorite sports teams on our flat screen TVs while you search for that perfect gift. If you have small children, you should know that we have a children’s entertainment area.
The experience at Cornell’s Jewelers is absolutely Unique like YOU!