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A hidden gem

Kirkberg has offered jewelry merchandise for 125 years was located in the Historic Downtown Fort Dodge

Watchmakers work on their craft in the earlier years of Kirkberg Jewelers.

A long-standing tradition of business in the city of Fort Dodge continues on with the third generation.

For over 125 years, the Kirkberg family has been offering jewelry merchandise and service in Fort Dodge and the surrounding areas.

Cary Estlund and her husband Steve Estlund have owned Kirkberg Connections for the 20 years, carrying on rich history that began in 1888.

Cary Estlund said Kirkberg Jewelers was started by her grandparents H.C. and Marie Kirkberg. The second generation was Estlund’s parents, Robert and Mary Lee Kirkberg who joined the business in 1958 and officially took over in the late 1960s.

Kirkberg Jewelers has been a part of Fort Dodge since 1888. Here is a photo of the store front in 1930s in downtown Fort Dodge.

Estlund said she and her siblings grew up working in the family business. “We would make bows to put on the packages, ran errands, swept the backroom,” she said. “Then when we were old enough to wait on customers we did, so, we started at a very young age.” Although the ownership of the company has changed, Estlund said the philosophy is still the same, but the way the store is operated, however, has changed. “It’s the same quality and service at a fair price, but what has changed is in the way of running a retail business without a lot of inventory,” she said. By taking this unique route of running a business, Estlund believes she is able to cater to her customers’ needs, versus just not giving them only what a store carries.

Cary Estlund displays some of the examples of rings and stones that can be customized for a unique piece of jewelry. “Since I don’t have an inventory, then I can get you exactly what you want, versus a limited selection of only buying what a store has,” she said. “I will get it for you and work with you and designing has always been something I absolutely love.” Services • Jewelry repair Kirkberg Connections is a full-service jewelry store where most jewelry repairs are done in house. They repair silver, gold and platinum jewelry. Repair service includes everything from solder jobs, re-pronging, ring-sizing, stone replacement, bead and pearl restringing.

Cary Estlund, owner of Kirkberg Connections is the third generation of the Kirkberg family to operate the jewelry business in Fort Dodge. Estlund recommends that it is best to have your jewelry cleaned and checked every three to six months, which Kirkberg Connections does at no charge. • Custom jewelry design Designing custom pieces is something that along with Harold Rutgers, Kirkbergs has been doing for years — see your ideas become authentic pieces that can be yours to cherish. Have a piece of old jewelry, or a loose stone? Bring it to Kirkberg Connections and we can help create a lovely new piece using your imagination and ours. “My favorite thing is I love working with diamonds,” she said. “Whether they want to purchase a new diamond or stone or add to the diamonds or stones they have or design something new or want to redesign, there are lots and lots of options and something for everybody.” There are not only pieces available for everybody, but something for just about everyone’s budget. “It doesn’t have to be a $10,000 diamond. I can design and make anything work,” she said. • Restoration and repair Kirkbergs offer extensive restoration services from the simplest to the most elaborate to ensure your treasured piece of jewelry is wearable on every level. • Gem and jewelry setting Estlund said they will help you transform an old or unwanted piece into a treasure that reflects your true style. “I am a very sentimental person,” said Estlund. “I really try hard to put it together so it is pieced with a story. That is important to me. With jewelry, there is so much to it as far as handing it down to someone.” Jewelry does wear out, and if that is the case Estlund said she can advise someone on what they can do to restore or repurpose those pieces. “I might have to say this isn’t working anymore, but let’s do something with it,” she said. “Or, grandma had a ring with 50 diamonds that she loved and there are 10 granddaughters – let’s make 10 rings.” • Full service cleaning Jewelry with diamonds should be checked every 6 months for security and stability. • Appraisal service Insurance replacement appraisals are offered every day. Estlund said they will weigh, measure, grade and photograph each item and provide you with an official appraisal. Contact us to find out the value of your jewelry. • Watch battery replacement Kirkbergs offers watch battery replacement only, as they do not offer watch repair services. • Wish list Estlund said she invites you to come in at any time to fill out a “Wish List Card”. You can list any items you desire from our store. Or send your “Wish Item” to us by email. • Engraving Kirkberg Connections outsources their engraving to a local engraver called Mace Engravers. Estlund said they have been in the business for years and do excellent work. A unique service Estlund said Kirkberg Connections continues to deliver – not only with unique jewelry pieces, but as a service – something that is not typically offered in the jewelry business. “We have never stopped delivering. My grandpa had a delivery truck and I still deliver,” she said. Estlund said she will cater to those customers that may not want to travel into Fort Dodge. “I make a lot of house calls,” she said. “I care about making my customers happy and whatever I am giving them is exactly what they want and they really want it.” Hidden gem Although the Kirkberg family has had a presence within the Fort Dodge community for over 125 years, Estlund feels as though her business maybe unknown. “I would say I am a hidden gem,” she said. “Every week we have at least one new person finally find us, but once they find us, they always come back.” Kirkberg Connections is located at 101 N. 27th Street in Fort Dodge. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; however, Estlund is encouraging people to make an appointment by calling 515 573 2037.


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