Downtown jeweler turns after-school job into career

Jill Fier

Jill Fier

Not many people have access to thousands of dollar worth of jewels and other luxuries, let alone when they are only 14 years old.

That’s when Jerry Miller began working in a field that would eventually become a life-long career choice that he has never regretted.

Miller, who is now the owner of Wink’s Fine Jewelry in downtown Brookings, got his first job working in a jewelry store in Sturgis as a high schooler because he said he was just tired of mowing lawns for extra money.

Now three kids and 15 grandkids later, Miller said there is nothing he doesn’t like about his job. No one who comes into a jewelry store rarely come in mad.

“It’s a fun business because people who come in here are usually in love. I sell magic. I sell things that make women feel beautiful, gorgeous, adored cherished, loved and wanted. That’s diamonds.”

Miller went to college here at SDSU, and he was again looking for a job in a jewelry store when he ran out of money.

After he was finished with school, he moved back to Sturgis for four and a half years and worked in the same store he did a few years earlier.

Miller said he went to Wink’s looking for a job because he asked around for recommendations on a quality jeweler, and that was the one mentioned the most.

The store was opened in 1963 by V. H. Winkelman. Miller became part owner of the local business in 1978 and then became the full owner in 1981. He is now a registered jeweler with the American Gems Society, which Miller calls the “elite of the elite” in terms of quality and service in the jewelry industry.

Since the doors to the store opened over 40 years ago, Miller said he knows that quality merchandise and prices, and good customer service are the things that keep people coming back to the store. “I’m selling engagement rings to the kids of parents I sold engagement rings to years ago,” he said.

While Miller said the store does not necessarily cater to young people, his customers range in age from as old as 80 years to as young as high school.

He has also given classes and speeches on campus to students and in residence halls about jewelry and gems. Miller said one of the basic parts of Wink’s customer service include a complete education program for prospective buyers, like how to judge the quality of a piece of jewelry.

Wink’s also has a full repair shop in back. Miller said even though the store has a huge inventory for a business their size, if the store does not have what you are looking for, they would be glad to order it for you. Wink’s Jewelry is online at