Jeweler and Entrepreneur
1867 – 1922
Morris Helzberg opened his first store in Kansas City in 1915 as Shaw Diamonds. Shortly after the store’s founding, Morris Helzberg fell ill, and his teenage son Barnett Helzberg, Sr. became responsible for the family business. In 1930 Helzberg’s created the Certified Perfect Diamonds Program – diamonds that the jewelry industry labeled as perfect under power 10 magnification. In 1948, Helzberg’s House of Treasures opened on the Country Club Plaza. The store had three levels and sold jewelry, silver, and fine china. By 1959, Helzberg’s Diamonds had 15 stores in 6 markets plus a mail order division. The firm’s famous “I AM LOVED” advertising slogan was inspired by the euphoria that Barnett Helzberg, Jr. felt when he proposed to Shirley Bush in 1967. It became an advertising phenomenon that put Helzberg’s on the map. By the end of the 1970s, under Barnett Helzberg, Jr.’s leadership, the business had grown to 42 stores in 16 states. The firm was sold to Berkshire Hathaway in 1995, and it became the third largest jewelry chain in the United States by 2010 with over 220 stores nationwide. Helzberg’s was the first nationwide jewelry retailer to qualify for membership in the American Gem Society.