Editor’s note: This week the One on One feature changes from a question/answer format to a story/profile format.
Like Marco Polo, Bryan and Scott Jewelers Ltd. owner Roberto Agnolini has traveled the world, rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, viewed the work of fabulous artisans and gathered a wealth of treasures offered at his retail store at 112 N. Tejon St.
The shop’s stock also includes rare and beautiful items procured through estate liquidation or during visits to markets in Italy, South America or Morocco. And then there are the buying trips to both coasts and gem shows in Tucson.
Agnolini’s eye for the exquisite — objects d’art, elegant home furnishings, fine paintings, crystal, gold and platinum bejeweled rings, pendants, custom-designed cuff bracelets and earrings — has translated into tens of millions of dollars in sales during the course of his 30-year-plus career. Many items have been funneled into the homes of wealthy Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas oil and land barons, as well as into those of upscale local buyers.
But like any full-service retailer, he also services what he sells.
“We do everything from a $10,000 sale to a $10 repair, he said. “There will always be a market for quality.”
“Roberto is a savvy negotiator, both as a buyer and in dealings with his customers” said Colorado Springs client Sue Autry, whose family has done business with Bryan and Scott for more than 50 years. “He has a talent for identifying the very best, and his taste is impeccable.”
While the names of his clientele are off-limits, during Agnolini’s 30-plus years in the business (the company was actually founded during 1928 by predecessor Mark Bryan), his customers have ranged from locals to some of the country’s most fascinating — and extravagant — bluebloods, CEOs and serious collectors.
Until two years ago, when the Garden of the Gods Club operation was sold, Bryan and Scott maintained on-site merchandise displays designed to tempt well-heeled visitors.
“Many of them are no longer members,” he said, admitting that the loss of so many “regulars” along with recession-driven cutbacks in consumer spending, have left their mark on his bottom line.
However, Agnolini maintains a loyal following. Earlier this year, a Dallas developer tried to interest him in opening a store in that city’s posh new North Village shopping center.
“How can you do it all?” he said, admitting that the economy made any thought of expansion nearly impossible.
Bryan and Scott Jewelers has established a Web site for online marketing, but so far, most clients either prefer to see and touch their purchases — or they rely on personal recommendations and evaluations from Agnolini himself.
He serves interior design clients with multiple homes in the United States and abroad — but remains discreet.
“It’s an absolute in his field,” Agnolini said. “One of my long time (Kissing Camels) clients once told me, ‘We may be wealthy, but none of us like to be known as money-spenders.’”
He credits “great teachers early in my life in Europe,” including fashion icon Coco Chanel and her model maker, Salvador Dali, and for helping to mold his career as an interior designer and to hone his entrepreneurial skills.
A devotee of the classics and books about Egyptian history, Agnolini dismisses passing trends like today’s “minimalist” furnishings and adornment as unsatisfying.
“No one can get dressed without a piece of jewelry,” he said. “What I love about interior design, about jewels, is that they are architectural — they contribute to an overall look. You can’t create a home or a good look without art and elegance.”
Agnolini said he loves his home town, but hopes to see city government and residents work more closely together “to produce more.”
“This town could accomplish so much. Just look at the situation with the Pioneers Museum,” he said. “I remember back in the 1950s when they were going to sell it for $55,000 and have the building demolished — just like the old Burns Theater. We need to preserve our historic buildings. What’s the alternative? We already have too many parking lots downtown.”