Stuller Settings, Inc. (Est. 1970) Since 1970, when Stuller, Inc., was known as South Central Distributors, it has expanded its operation to three continents. The company deals solely with independent jewelers and not the general public. Its core product categories include diamonds, gemstones, finished jewelry, mountings, findings, bridal jewelry, tools and supplies.
The founder, Matthew Gordy Stuller (b.1948 and generally known as, ‘Matt’) began learning about the jewelry business in 1968, when he worked part time for a jewelry store in his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. When he started working he was a sophomore at Our Lady of Fatima High School. His first job was at Clark’s Jewelers in downtown Lafayette, later at a business called the House of Diamonds.
It was at the latter location where he met and was taught the jewelry trade by Jack Stern, a veteran jeweler who befriended Stuller and acted as his mentor. While he worked only after school, Stuller quickly grasped the essentials of the business, and, in a short time, learned both the craft of jewelry repair and how to make sales.
In Stuller’s senior year, he and Stern started their own business called, Hub City Jewelers. It was a trade shop opened in a corner office of a suite of offices leased by Stuller’s father, an orthodontist. When Stern died shortly after the opening, Stuller closed the business.
After a short time at the local university, Matt decided he would rather build his own business than work for others. He created Stuller Settings of Louisiana from the trunk of his car with the goal to ‘build a business that catered to the unique needs of jewelry professionals.’
He developed his first wholesale product line and went on the road. After securing a loan from a Lafayette-area bank, he bought the findings inventory from Jewelmont, a New Orleans company.
At first, Stuller drove throughout Louisiana selling his line from his car’s back seat and trunk and making important connections. When his territory expanded into two other states, he bought a Winnebago and remodeled the inside by adding store fixtures to display his line of findings, mountings, tools, and supplies.
Today, Matt is founder and chairman of Stuller, Inc., one of the largest jewelry manufacturing and distribution facilities in the United States and an industry leader in the domestic and international wholesale jewelry sectors.
Frustrated with the industry’s slow delivery and service, he developed a business philosophy and program of supplying quality merchandise and service with next-day delivery. As early as 1972, Stuller produced his first findings catalog to give retailers around the world the unprecedented ability to order toll-free from the manufacturer and receive delivery the next day on 98% of its vast inventory.
First in the industry to do so, Stuller added toll-free ordering by phone to its growing list of services to busy, independent retailers. In 1973, to guarantee the quality of its products, Stuller began fabricating metals and controlling all aspects of manufacturing.
In 1982, Stuller Settings, Inc. moved from its original location into a new, 11,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution center constructed to fit the special needs of the firm. It was in that year that Stuller began offering automatic, second-day air delivery for open accounts and prepaid orders–another industry first. Also in 1982, the company issued its first full-color mountings and findings catalog that was one more manufacturing and wholesale jewelry trade innovation.
Two years later, Stuller Settings began marketing its line nationally, and in 1985 broke ground on an addition to its plant to accommodate its rapidly growing business. The expansion finished in 1986 and doubled the size of the facility.
In 1987, using its own proprietary metal molding technology, the company introduced a new line of wire basket settings. By 1989, however, it was necessary to, again, double the company’s main facility size.
Three years later it introduced its in-stock finished diamond and colored stone jewelry program. The introduction of a line of religious jewelry followed in 1992. Also in that year, the company implemented its in-stock platinum product program.
In 1993, executive offices and administrative operations were moved to a high-rise office building and, in 1994, the company’s main facility was again renovated to create more space.
Today, Stuller Settings, Inc. is the nation’s largest wholesale supplier of findings and mountings used by retail jewelers and artisans. Stuller maintains an inventory of over 100,000 jewelry items each of which falls into one of six major categories: findings; mountings; loose diamonds and colored gem stones; finished jewelry; tools, and supplies.
With a base of over 40,000 independent jewelers throughout North America, the company relies heavily on its catalogs and/or source books. It is from these that customers place their orders via telephone, fax, or e-mail.
The company has manufacturing facilities in Lafayette, Louisiana and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Its service division–Stuller Service Centers Inc.–maintains key sites in Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, Chicago, and Philadelphia. In these, it stores stock product lines in sufficient quantities to assure ‘just in time delivery’ of its settings and mountings to retailers throughout the country.
The company also has buying offices located in Ramat Gan, Israel, Bangkok, Thailand, and Bombay, India. At these sites, gem dealers provide the company with supplies of diamonds and colored stones.
Stuller became an industry leader in the 1990s as a result of the quality of its product lines and the company’s efficiency which began to feature a one-day turn around order service.
In the late 80’s and into the 90’s, Matt Stuller repeatedly won recognition as both a successful businessman and as a model for the entrepreneurial spirit that would help Louisiana break away from single-industry dependence (petroleum production.)
Among the company’s awards is the U.S. Senate’s Productivity Award for Louisiana for ‘outstanding achievement in productivity and quality improvement’ received in 1989. In 1991, the company received the Lantern Award from the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry for its economic and civic contributions to the state.
Individually, Matt Stuller was honored in 1995 with the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award given by Inc. Magazine in the wholesale distribution category for Louisiana.
Matt Stuller is a member of the Young President Organization, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the 24 Karat Club of the Southeastern United States. He is also a Member of the Board of Directors of The Jewelers Vigilance Committee; a Member of the Board of the Jewelry Information Center, and a Member of the Board of Directors of The University of Southwestern Louisiana Foundation.
Going into the 21st Century, Matt singled out three areas of attention that the company would address to help independent jewelers compete successfully with large department store and chain outlets: increased attention to jewelry branding; the need for jewelers to create unique, customized pieces; and the ever-growing area of e-commerce. The Stuller Company’s principal competitors are M. Fabrikant & Sons, Lazare Kaplan International Inc., and OroAmerica, Inc.
In a July 2017, National Jeweler article about Matt and his company, Stuller called findings the company’s “foundation.”
“We offer jewelers the largest assortment of findings in the industry,” he said. “It’s our foundation, it’s what we’ve built our reputation on, and we’re eager to continue to research and develop new and innovative solutions for our customers for years to come.”
Stuller currently offers an enormous variety of jewelry including engagement rings, polished wedding bands, anniversary rings, personalized jewelry, solitaires, guards and enhancers, bridal jewelry, brooches, chains, cords, charms, dangles, earrings, men’s jewelry, religious and symbolic jewelry, rings, semi-mounts, jewelry sets, and watches.
Within that extensive inventory are more choices including 35 different types of metals and metal combinations. Available metals include Sterling silver, platinum, palladium, stainless steel, titanium, and 14K white, yellow, and rose gold. In both 18K and 10K are also yellow, white, and rose gold. Combinations of these metals are also available.
In July 2017, Stuller released an 800-page catalog that it says is its largest findings catalog to date. The catalog is organized by colored tabs to make it easier to find items. New and improved features of the catalog include a dedicated section for stampings, diamonds, gemstones, and metals categories with laser-cut items identified by a unique badge, and also, die-struck and metal-mold items.Sell Stuller Settings, Inc. All Artists