We were founded in 1975 by Rick Winslow in Ogunquit, Maine in order to avoid full-time employment. At the time surfing was his first love. The company evolved from a hobby to a job to an obsession. Originally trading in turquoise, coral, heishe beads, silver, and stone, mostly out of the trunk of a Volkswagen bug, Downeast slowly transformed from a wholesaler of semi-precious stones, pearls, and findings, to an importer of Italian jewelry.
Our first buying trip overseas was in 1978, and, gradually, gold and silver chains demanded more attention than stones and pearls. We have seen the many ups and downs of the gold market, the $850 per ounce days of 1981, the rise and fall of quite a few “important” gold chain companies, and we remain a small but steady force in the industry, often selling the same items from the same suppliers that we did in 1979.
The name Downeast is a product of our origin in the state of Maine. The term was used in colonial times to describe the journey up the coast from the New England capitol in Boston. As ships progressed up the coast they would veer more and more towards the East. Typically, and particularly in the Summer, they would have the prevailing winds aft, so they would be sailing downwind. Thus, Maine became known as “downeast”.
Our move to Vermont in 1980 signified an important change in our history. The jewelry business became more a career than a means of temporary support. We now operate a small and totally anonymous office in the bucolic dairy country of Vermont, within sight of the Green Mountains. We don’t have a store, we don’t have a showroom, and all business is transacted either by phone and shipping, or directly at the major jewelry shows during the year where we make an appearance. We supply retail stores, manufacturers, jewelry designers, distributors, and craftspeople in fifty states and many foreign countries. We do not sell retail or directly to consumers. A tax resale number is required to purchase merchandise from Downeast. Our sales are 100% wholesale to persons operating within the jewelry trade.
We are direct importers of jewelry chains from Italy and Germany. Our 18kt Obi line is imported from Japan. Every chain that we sell is made in our factories overseas- we will never sell an item that was made for another importer. This way we can sell with absolute assurance that the chain is made with the quality and integrity that we guarantee.
Our contact persons are Rick Winslow, Megan Frankovic, and Carol Ford. We can be reached by phone at 1-800-626-5700, by fax at 802-388-7242, or by e-mail at :Downeast@sover.net. We welcome all inquiries.