Mercer Island’s Chris Francisco is a modern ‘old-world’ jeweler

Nancy Gould Hilliard
Mercer Island Reporter

  • Monday, November 24, 2008 9:02pm
  • Life
Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Chris Francisco works inside his Mercer Island jewelry shop that he has owned for 14 years.

Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter Chris Francisco works inside his Mercer Island jewelry shop that he has owned for 14 years.

Nancy Gould Hilliard
Mercer Island Reporter

What you see inside Chris Francisco’s jewelry shop at 2448 76th Ave. S.E. is the “tip of the iceberg” — a sampling of Seiko clocks that play music, pearls, gems, Rolex watches, castings for jewelry and charms and a few of his custom-designed “pretties.”

After about a half-dozen customers drop in, you see his main product: service. He changes a watch battery, takes in a couple of jewelry repairs, suggests ring settings and proudly displays his album of custom-designed pieces. There is the NBA logo gold pendant designed for Jerry West; the intricate butterfly pin with 300 tiny stones that took four and a half months to craft; the makings for the charm that replicates the footprint of Mercer Island, with a place for a tiny gem to be set where you live.

He also takes time to chat with customers. Even the postman stops on lunch break for a visit with Francisco. “My 1-2-3 business plan includes: (1) honesty, (2) fairness and (3) friendship,” said Francisco. “I like being part of the community for 14 years here. Even if you have no business for me, just stop to say ‘hello.’” His shop posts a sign out front, “No Place for Domestic Violence,” his community contribution to ensure safe havens for those abused.

Francisco, 48, who for 11 years in his early career worked for Bevan’s Jeweler in Bellevue, said he now does everything a big jewelry store does. His one-man shop provides engraving, repairs, appraisals, watch and clock fixing, custom design and sales. Even the guard dog at the front door is a piece he carved in his youth.

Francisco has deep roots as an artisan and crafter. He is a fourth-generation jeweler with many uncles and five other brothers also in the business. His family of six brothers and four sisters were raised in the Philippines by Crisanto and Anecita Francisco, coming to the Northwest when Neilson Jeweler offered their father a car and a house on Beacon Hill. He later showed his pieces at the Pike Place Market.

“Dad was one of the finest jewelers in the world, who did scrimshaw etchings and learned his trade from his forefathers in Manila,” he said. “His work was once shown in New York in the early 1960s. I am his namesake, so you can see the profession is in my blood.” The only other fields “junior” toyed with were architecture and psychology, he added.

Francisco graduated from Franklin High School in 1978, went to the Philippines for a visit and found the love of his life, Precy, who he married 30 years ago. She is an accounting manager for a law firm in Seattle. They have a 21-year-old daughter, a first-generation college student who aspires to be a broadcast journalist, and a 14-year-old son. An American flag is displayed in the center of the shop to remind Francisco that two of his nephews now serve the country in Iraq.

“Family is so important to me that I decided to give up the Bellevue job to have my extensive shop at home and work here from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. I’ve never regretted it — days with extended family on Mercer Island, and the rest with my own family across the bridge.”

Chris Francisco’s jewelry shop is located at 2448 76th Ave. S.E. Hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturdays. He can be reached at 230-0831.

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