Independents

Trabert & Hoeffer to Close Last-Standing Store

IndependentsApr 26, 2019

Trabert & Hoeffer to Close Last-Standing Store

The store, which is located in Chicago, will put a portion of its inventory up for auction ahead of its closing in June.

20190426_Trabert_and_Hoeffer_brooch.jpg
This diamond and pink tourmaline brooch is expected to bring between $15,000 to $20,000 at auction this May.

Chicago—Trabert & Hoeffer is set to close its last-standing location in Chicago in June as its owner prepares for retirement, the jewelry store announced earlier this month.

Its first store opened on New York’s Park Avenue in the 1930s, later expanding to Palm Beach, Florida; Beverly Hills, California; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Chicago.

Chicago native Don Levinson bought the location in 1968, importing designs from Europe and Asia and adding more Swiss watches to the inventory.

The store is known for its elaborate, seasonal window displays, draping fine jewelry over pumpkins or ice skates.

Originally located on Michigan Avenue, Trabert & Hoeffer moved to East Oak Street in 1995, but has never strayed far from the Magnificent Mile, the Midwest equivalent of New York’s Fifth Avenue.

Ahead of its June closing, the retailer will partner with Hindman LLC, which owns auction houses Leslie Hindman Auctioneers and Cowan’s Auctions, to sell some of its inventory.

“After more than 50 years with Trabert & Hoeffer, it’s time for me to announce my retirement and I can’t think of a better partner than Hindman to move the store’s spectacular inventory,” Levinson said in a statement announcing the store’s closure.

Assisting with the sale is Katie Guilbault, director and senior specialist of fine jewelry and timepieces at Hindman and a former Trabert & Hoeffer employee with a familial connection to the store. Her grandfather owned the Chicago Trabert & Hoeffer and was the one who sold it to Levinson in the late ‘60s.

She got her start at the store, working with Levinson for nearly eight years as a sales associate and appraiser.

“We have a lot of happy memories. A lot of people do,” said Guilbault, who described being a part of the end of the store’s legacy as “bittersweet.”

She recounted the loyal customers who would visit year after year, commemorating birthdays and anniversaries with a special something from the store.

Guilbault also is familiar with the store’s inventory and has a hunch about which pieces will be showstoppers at auction.



The inventory includes pieces that were created via a partnership with acclaimed Parisian jeweler Mauboussin, which also sold the store some of its inventory when it decided to close its New York location.

Some designs created in the 1930s through the early 1950s feature a Trabert & Hoeffer/Mauboussin stamp, which Guilbault said could draw buyers.

A Retro platinum, diamond and pink tourmaline brooch by Trabert & Hoeffer/Mauboussin valued between
$15,000 and $20,000 is expected to be an auction standout.

Another auction highlight is a 6.11-carat marquise-cut diamond ring that is D, IF and valued between $280,000 and $380,000.

The jewelry auction will also feature about 200 original, hand-colored drawings of custom design pieces, some marked up with notes from the designer and comments from customers.

“These pieces truly are incredible and I’m grateful they will find homes with collectors who understand and appreciate this brand’s unmatched quality and expansive legacy,” Levinson said in the statement.

The sale, featuring more than 340 lots, will be held at Hindman’s Chicago headquarters on May 15.

Collectors can preview the offerings in New York from April 30 to May 1, in Atlanta on May 3, and in Chicago May 10-May 15.

To schedule an appointment, contact Leslie Hindman Auctioneers at 312-280-1212 or visit the auction house’s website.
Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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