By Jacqueline G. Goodwin, Ed. D. • Photos Courtesy of Mountz Jewelers
Mountz Jewelers is a true American success story. A family-owned jewelry retailer, Mountz prides itself in bringing people together and celebrating milestones.
“I am proud to say Mountz Jewelers is dedicated to helping multiple generations of couples and families create magical moments with our jewelry,” says Tonia Leitzel Ulsh. “That’s what we love to do.”
With locations in Carlisle, Camp Hill and Colonial Park/Harrisburg, the Mountz Jewelers story is built on a long-standing tradition in retail. Tonia and her brother Ron Leitzel make up the brother-sister team who own Mountz Jewelers and come from a family history of entrepreneurs from Central Pennsylvania.
The family business story began early on with their Great-great Grandmother’s store in Klingerstown and continued with their Grandparent’s General Store in Malta. In 1949, their Uncle Charles opened Leitzel’s Jewelry and Gifts in Millersburg. Marvin, Ron and Tonia’s father, was hired into the businesses in 1954. In 1967, Marvin purchased two Leitzel’s Jewelry and Gifts, one in Millersburg and the other in Lykens. Ron committed to working full-time for Leitzel’s Jewelry under his father’s leadership.
In the summer of 1979, longtime friends, Vaughn and Jackie Mountz, made the decision to sell Mountz Jewelers to Marvin, securing ownership on October 1, 1979. The original Mountz Jewelers store was located in downtown Carlisle, giving Marvin ownership to three retail locations. Ron’s focus was on managing and running the Mountz Jewelers location. In the mid-1980’s, his Father gave him the opportunity to purchase the store.
“I consider my brother Ron the visionary behind the business,” says Tonia. She says Ron’s passion as an entrepreneur drove him to leverage new opportunities. A succession of jewelry stores under Ron’s ownership included Boyer’s Jewelers purchased in 1984, Bailey’s Diamond Center purchased in 1986, Bailey’s Diamond Exchange opened in 1992, and Floyd and Green Jewelers in Aiken, South Carolina, opened in 1992.
In 1987, Mountz Jewelers expanded east to Camp Hill, to better serve a growing customer base in Central Pennsylvania. Ron opened a custom built retail environment located in the Camp Hill Shopping Mall. In 1988, he opened a third Mountz Jewelers location by purchasing Diamond Jewelers in Briarcrest Square in Hershey. Then in 1996, a fourth Mountz Jewelers location was opened by purchasing Macbeth Diamond Center in the Colonial Park Mall just outside of Harrisburg.
Tonia joined the Mountz Jewelers team in 1989. She experienced the retail culture first-hand during her childhood while working with her Father at Leitzel’s Jewelry in Millersburg.
“Working at the store was always my summer job,” says Tonia. “I started out making bows, assembling boxes and doing what was needed. I really enjoyed the experience.”
Eventually, Tonia attended the Gemological Institute of America becoming a Graduate Gemologist. After graduation Tonia worked part-time for her Father at Leitzel’s Jewelers and full-time for her brother at Mountz Jewelers. In 1989, she joined Mountz Jewelers full-time as a sales associate and appraiser. After climbing through the ranks she became a co-owner of the business.
As a full-service jewelry store, Mountz offers certified jewelry appraisals for its customers. There are very few graduate gemologist appraisers in the area and Mountz Jewelers has three employed. “We can identify gemstones, grade diamonds and do appraisals,” says Tonia.
Mountz Jewelers also offers on-site services including jewelry and watch repair, ring sizing, diamond setting, engraving and jewelry buying programs. “We also specialize in custom jewelry and can craft unique pieces from a rough sketch or photograph.”
Mountz Jewelers offers an extensive selection of designer brands in the area including Rolex, Charles Krypell, Frederique Constant, Gabriel & Co., Ippolita, John Hardy, LeVian, Monica Rich Kosann, Roberto Coin and Tag Heuer, and offers engagement rings, and wedding bands from the leading bridal designers as A.Jaffe, Artcarved, Forevermark, Hearts On Fire, Henri Daussi, JB Star, Scott Kay, Simon G. and Tacori.
“To celebrate 40 years in business we have just launched our #Inspire40 Campaign,” says Tonia. “We will recognize 40 members of the community who are a source of inspiration to others.
“One of the first recipients is the Lower Paxton Township Police Department. Corporal Chad Miller and K-9 Rex, along with Officer Mike Elezovic accepted the award along with a check for $400 for the unit,” says Tonia.
“I can’t think of a better business to be in than the jewelry business,” says Tonia. “I have the privilege and pleasure of sharing so many happy moments with our customers. We help make special moments sparkle for all of life’s milestones including engagements, weddings, birthdays, holidays, and those ‘just because’ moments. That’s what it’s all about.”