IT SEEMS APROPOS that King Street’s jewelry store, best known for its luxury timepieces, would partner with an iconic watch brand that celebrates life’s exceptional moments to renovate and elevate its interior space. M.P. Demetre Jewelers has been sparkling on King Street for four decades. Rolex, the iconic luxury watch brand, has been handcrafting luxury timepieces for more than a century. Both M.P. Demetre Jewelers and Rolex are beloved luxury brands that cherish customers and honor history.
M.P. Demetre Jewelers’ rich history began with Milton Demetre’s dream of opening a jewelry store on King Street. “My dad was a Citadel cadet and earned extra money selling engagement rings to fellow cadets. He fell in love with jewelry and dreamed of opening a jewelry store on King Street,” says son Peter Demetre, who notes that when the First Bank of Charleston was for sale his dad jumped at the opportunity to purchase a building that honored Charleston’s history. “Malls were quite popular at the time, but my father took a gamble because he loved the downtown and saw the future.” Demetre says other family merchants, including Grady Ervin & Co., Dumas and Sons, and Croghan’s Jewel Box have also invested in major renovations in recent years.
M.P. Demetre Jewelers recently partnered with Rolex to create a 900-square-foot space to showcase the iconic timepieces. “Its size and scope are on par with major cities,” says Demetre about the renovation, which was five years in the making. “It was my dad’s crowning achievement.” Demetre worked with his dad six days a week for 30 years before Milton passed away last year. His mother, Virginia, still works at the store as does his oldest son, Andrew, who recently joined the business. “My dad was a hardworking businessman who believed that no matter what, you treat people with honesty and respect. You will always find a Demetre in the store when you go into 253 King St.,” he says.
The Charleston treasure is a go-to jeweler, where generations have discovered perfect pieces to celebrate life’s joyous occasions and blessings, including anniversaries, weddings, engagements and business promotions. “Heirloom watches handed down through generations are the perfect vehicles to honor a family’s connection,” says Demetre, whose office resides in the former bank’s vault. He loves that the building’s architecture dates back to the late 1800s and shines with details like antique chandeliers and rich mahogany wood, and he applauds Rolex with combining the best of old-school and modern luxury influences to create a beautiful flow in the new space.
Demetre also credits Apple with getting the younger generation interested in watches. “Apple got kids interested in wearing something on their wrists with the Apple Watch,” he notes.
While musing about his dual appreciation for the past and the future, Demetre tells the story of his grandfather, who immigrated to America from Greece and had a stone stamp made into a beautiful ring that his father wore. He also remembers the joy his father experienced hand-designing an engagement ring for his wife, Meredith. He recalls his dad’s stories of standing in the store and not seeing a person on King Street acknowledging his vision for the future—when King Street would evolve into an iconic shopping destination.
“I now know the joy my father experienced having his son work in the business,” says Demetre, noting that the Sky-Dweller Rolex on his wrist belonged to his father, who was enchanted with luxury timepieces. “Humans have an appreciation for history.”
What’s in store for the business? Demetre says he looks forward to the next chapter. Time will tell.
Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle, luxury and travel writer. Her works have appeared in Art New England, Boston, Boston Common Magazine, Modern Luxury Chicago, Ocean Home Magazine, Playboy.com, RD.com and many others. A lover of big words and little white dogs, Stacey’s biggest joys are found in life’s simple moments.