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Jae’s Jewelers: The Entrepreneurs

By Keith W. Strandberg

As the owners of Jae’s Jewelers, Coral Gables’ oldest jewelry store, the Hornik family is deeply proud of its Florida roots—and they are quick to tell you all about them. “When my grandfather, George Hornik, came back from World War II he went to watchmaking school in Colorado on the GI Bill,” Jennifer Hornik-Johnson nostalgically beams. “After graduation, he and his wife opened his first store in Miami in 1945, and they moved to Coral Gables shortly after. We’ve been in this location since 1956.”

Part of the third generation of Horniks operating the store, Hornik-Johnson says what she loves most is how her job is much more than selling diamond and gold. “I like being a part of something momentous in people’s lives,” she says. “We help mark important occasions in many families and that is a special thing for us.”

Something else that’s remained special? The store’s name itself. Bruce Hornik, son of the founder and Hornik-Johnson’s father, named all of his children with names that start with the letter J: Jennifer, Jason and Jillian. Hornik-Johnson is following in similar steps: her daughter is named Gia, after the Gemological Institute of America (acronym, GIA) the training school she attended after graduating from the University of Florida and where she met her husband, who now also works in the family business. Indeed, the entire family remains active at the store, from dad to daughters. “And now there’s even a fourth generation,” says Hornik-Johnson. “My own daughter.”