Going Local: Wm. MarKen Jewelers
“After I graduated from high school in 1976 I was tired of school and wanted to work,” said Ken Criser, part-owner of Wm. MarKen Jewelers in Bloomington. Ken was trained in the “old school” ways of hand fabricating, diamond setting and repairing jewelry. “I worked for two different jewelers and then apprenticed with Mac Preston who was with Jones Bros. Jewelers in Peoria” continued Ken.
While at Jones Bros. Ken worked with Bill Lyddon and Mark Meins.In 1996 they made the big decision to open their own jewelry store. The name Wm. MarKen Jewelers reflected the three owners first names. “We were located on College Avenue, just east of Towanda Avenue in College Oaks Square until 2007 when we bought our current location at 713 IAA Drive,” said Ken.
“Our IAA Drive address is right on Veterans Parkway and we noticed immediate results when we moved. We have a very visible location,” said Ken.
Ken is a member of the American Gem Society and holds the title of Registered Jeweler. He is also a charter member of the Business Network International in Bloomington-Normal. Bill Lyddon was raised in Bloomington-Normal and has a degree in Geology and is a Certified Gemologist Appraiser. With over 25 years of jewelry experience, Bill has been a member of the American Gem Society and GIA Alumni Association.
In 2015, Mark retired and Ken & Bill became equal partners. “We are fortunate to have three good employees,” said Ken.
Three years ago the company started selling lab-grown diamonds, which are priced 30% less than regular diamonds. “We now sell quite a few more lab-grown diamonds vs. regular,” said Ken. Wm. MarKen also sells watches and clocks. “The internet has made jewelry very competitive but our service and personal attention & expertise make us stand out,” said Ken.
Wm. Marken also offers appraisals, which are typically done for insurance reasons. They also offer jewelry repair, and all types of jewelry are welcomed to be fixed, with free cleaning and inspections. They do battery replacements for watches, band adjustments and watch repair. The company also buys scrap gold and silver.
Wm. MarKen Jewelers is open 9:30 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday and 9:30 am to 3 pm on Saturdays. For more information, visit www. Wmmarken.com.