Kasson Jewelers of 393 Pequot Ave., Southport, marks 60 years in business this year, all in the hands of the Kasson family. Alan and Susan Kasson are second-generation family owners of the jewelry store.

Founded in 1949 by watchmaker Philip Kasson in downtown Bridgeport, the store moved to the Black Rock section of the city in 1960. Miriam, Philip's wife, took over the business when he passed away in 1963.

One tray of rings was where it began before the inventory slowly grew. Then, in 1976 when son Alan joined the business after achieving his BFA in graphic design from Ohio University, the business took on a new life. The creativity he had shown from an early age in silver, metal sculpture and painting aided him in a six-month apprenticeship in jewelry repair. He went on to take additional jewelry design classes at Eastern Connecticut State College, honing his skills.

Since, Alan has earned a variety of certificates in diamonds, colored stones and appraisal. He is now a certified gemologist appraiser and member of the American Gem Society. He continues to be tested each year to maintain his certifications, including a color vision test.

Alan's wife, Susan, is responsible for the sales-side of Kasson Jewelers. She is a certified sales associate through the American Gem Society and aids the business as a buyer, sales coordinator and marketer.

In 1995, Miriam began working part-time and her son and daughter-in-law moved Kasson Jewelers to their current location in Southport. Presently, the staff has grown to include Susan Bishop, a designer and goldsmith, as well as Peter de Hahn, a goldsmith, designer and master setter. Between Alan, Bishop and de Hahn, the store boasts 100 years of experience in jewelry design.

From custom design and fabrication to engraving and repairs, Kasson's team can handle any task that comes through their doors. "We call ourselves the best kept secret in Fairfield County," Alan said.

Unlike other jewelry stores, Kasson Jewelers works with their clients throughout the entire process to make any item they have envisioned. As their Web site, kassonjewelers.com, attests, "We can fabricate the piece entirely by hand in your choice of metals, or we can carve a design into a wax mold. If it is carved, before it is cast, you get to see the exact model of your piece...Stones are masterly set and then the piece is perfectly polished by hand."

Customers can even come into the store and watch their jewelry being made. "Our jewelers are in view so you can see them creating in front of you," Susan explained. "You can speak with them directly about what your desires are...You get a personalized home touch here and we stand behind everything we do."

Alan noted that, after all, "our name is on the sign."

Each personally made piece takes anywhere from four to eight weeks to complete. In addition, the business offers a CAD/CAM program, computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing, in which jewelry can be designed and created by a machine on the premises. Customers are able to view their item before it is manufactured, in full-color and 360 degrees of detail.

The store also carries estate jewelry and giftware in order to provide their customers with a variety of purchasing choices. Alan and Susan handpick each piece personally.

When asked about how their business has been affected by the economy, if at all, Susan responded, "Our repair and design department is so busy that, if we close our door for two weeks, we would not catch up. That part of our business is carrying us [through the economic downturn]."

Kasson recently added another cog to their well-oiled store: one of Alan and Susan's three sons, Michael, who has studied metalsmithing at Syracuse University. His mother explained, "He has apprenticed two summers for Michael Bondanza, a jewelry designer who has won several awards over the years."

Their son has also attended the Revere Academy in San Francisco, achieving five certificates in stone setting during his time of study.

While the Kassons would never "push" their sons into the family business, Susan said, "we know the name Kasson Jewelers will continue for years to come. That is why we stand behind everything we do and strive to give our customers a unique buying experience."

Alan and Susan together assured, "There is something for everyone. Throughout our history, our commitment to you has always been the same. We strive to build a relationship built on trust, honesty, friendliness and knowledge."

For more information, visit www.kassonjewelers.com or call (203) 319-0021.