A well-written card can elicit a hug or a kiss for the giver, and chocolate or flowers are almost always welcome. If you really want to impress on Valentine’s Day, though, go for the gold … or diamonds … or whatever type of jewelry your special girl (or guy) likes best. Fortunately, you can find a gift that will make your loved one’s heart go zing without ever leaving McKinney.

The key to coming through the door with the perfect gift is finding something that is unique and, if possible, holds personal meaning for the recipient, say three local jewelry experts.

“Women as a general rule always want something different,” said Harry Aureli, owner of McKinney Gold & Diamond located along Central Expressway near Eldorado Parkway. “They don’t want to see on their hand or around their neck the same thing everyone else is wearing.”

“What keeps me competitive is dealing in not the ordinary,” said Gary Gibson, owner of Barrons Estate Jewelers on E. Virginia Street in Historic Downtown McKinney.

Nan Lee of Nan Lee, on W. Virginia Street, helps her customers take uniqueness to a new level by personalizing and customizing their jewelry selections. “People want what they give to have meaning behind it,” she explains.

Aureli, who has decades of experience in the jewelry business and once served as executive vice president in charge of buying gold and diamond products for Zale Corporation, offers plenty of “something different” in his shop, including a substantial collection of custom-made antique jewelry pieces that were created specifically for their original owners. “We have about 100 pieces of jewelry that fall into that category,” he said.


McKinney Gold & Diamond has plenty of ring bling.

The well-heeled shopper seeking a high-end gift at a bargain price also may want to check out the pre-owned Rolex watch collection offered at McKinney Gold & Diamond. One item on display, for example, is a $36,000 18-karat gold lady’s Rolex watch that’s now listed at $17,000.

If your special valentine already owns a Rolex, Gibson of Barrons can help you add a unique twist simply by dressing it up with a custom-made diamond dial or bezel. Of course, the store also carries Rolex watches along with Cartier, Breitling and Omega. The store’s collection is also a must-see for those shopping for brightly colored stones. “A lot of people like big colored stones, and we have both precious and semi-precious colored stone rings,” Gibson said.

Nan Lee offers shoppers a number of ways to achieve the perfect gift. A “charm bar” gives customers the opportunity to create a necklace or bracelet with a combination of charms that best represents their loved one’s life or interests. For example, a necklace or bracelet designed for Valentine’s Day featuring a heart and the recipient’s initials. Jewelry donning initials and monograms are both big sellers right now, she said.

Lee’s shop, which showcases jewelry from 20 different designers whom she considers “up-and-coming,” also offers “love cuffs” by designer Deanna Cochran that are personalized with the word “love” and the couple’s names. “We’re not just taking something manufactured and engraving it,” she said. “Everything we have is custom-made. Regardless of whether our customers spend $50 or $1,000, we want them to walk away with a gift that’s unique, special and heartfelt.”

Speaking of special, when it comes to love, what better day to pop the big question and present an engagement ring than Valentine’s Day? All three jewelers can help customers achieve the perfect ring for the occasion.

Nan Lee carries non-traditional engagement rings by designer Megan Thorne. And as a designer herself, Lee frequently sits with customers and helps them design their bridal jewelry, including jewelry for bridesmaids and other members of the wedding party.


Barrons focus is on estate jewelery and you’ll find some beautiful vintage pieces along with new designs and watches.

With its emphasis on estate jewelry, Barrons is able to offer antique rings that often strike a special chord with customers. “We have a big following of people who want antique engagement rings like their mothers had,” Gibson said. One of the most unique pieces in his store recently was an engagement ring featuring diamonds and sapphires set in platinum that dates to the Art Deco period in the 1920s and ‘30s. For those who prefer a more modern look, Gibson also offers a line of new jewelry from Parade that includes natural colored diamonds, a rarity, he says, since unlike most colored diamonds, these stones are not radiated or treated to achieve their color.

A large selection of loose diamonds of a karat and larger combined with the extensive experience of Aureli and his staff make McKinney Gold & Diamond a great place to shop for an engagement ring. “We take a lot of time with our customers, especially with young people when they’re making that important bridal purchase,” Aureli said. His advice to those making important purchases such as an engagement ring is to find a jeweler they can trust. “The independent jeweler is probably their best source for finding value and service.”

That’s just a peek at what’s available locally. Whether you’ve known your “valentine” for weeks or decades, the perfect gift awaits in one of McKinney’s many shops. “I know some of the jewelers in town,” Aureli said. “They’re all good jewelers who understand what it takes to make a good jeweler. It’s service. It’s value. It’s trust.”


Georgiann Gullett is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about the people, places and events that make North Texas special.