TORRINGTON — Hatfield & Co Jewelers — a landmark in the community for 30 years — has closed its doors for good on East Main Street.
Owner Lisa Soliani Croci said the growing popularity of purchasing jewelry online contributed to her fine jewelry business closing. However, she believes a jewelry business should be hands-on, and before buying any piece, the customer should see it in person.
“You really have to try it on. You have to touch it in the light. It could look completely different than how it looks in a photograph,” she said. “We were very much that kind of business. We would fall in love with the pieces that we chose for our clientele.”
When vendors came into the store with their products, Croci said she would involve her entire staff in the buying process “because we all had very different tastes, so it was a group effort.”
She and her staff went through all the designs and decided what to purchase. “We tried to bring in some pieces that you wouldn’t see any place else,” she said. This included inlaid jewelry and recycled metal and vegan ivory jewelry.
Another reason Croci said she closed is due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus pandemic. As a non-essential business, Hatfield was closed from the end of March through the end of May. For those who lost their jobs or were furloughed and now struggling to buy necessities, “jewelry is not high on their list of purchases right now,” she said. “We were working just to pay the bills.”
Croci, 58, a mother of two and has one grandchild, said her 80-year-old mother, Marie Soliani, worked at Hatfield for many years. Soliani is also a justice of the peace who offered to marry customers for free if they purchased the engagement ring at Hatfield.
“She did this about two dozen times,” Croci said. On some occasions, the couples would marry at the store.
“One couple — the son of someone who works for us and his soon-to-be husband, asked my mom to marry them. We brought in a cake and champagne. We did a whole ceremony,” Croci said. “There was not a dry eye in the house.”
Croci plans to continue serving as the executive secretary for the Torrington schools superintendent. It’s a position she’s held for two years.
Originally called Hatfield Jewelers, the store was opened by Torrington resident Stacey Hatfield in 1990, at 491 Winsted Road.
The Hatfields were close family friends of the Soliani family, according to Croci, whose mother began working at the store in 2002.
In 2011, Croci said she decided to pursue her dream to become a business owner. “[Hatfield] had always asked me if I would be interested in buying it,” Croci said. “It was something I always entertained. I always wanted to own my own business.”
In 2013, Hatfield moved to 1875 E. Main St., and in 2106, it moved to its final location.
Nutmeg Fudge Company, across the street at 11 Main St., will be moving into Hatfield’s location in March.
Reflecting on her many years in the jewelry business, Croci said she feels blessed to have been able to share in so many milestones and memories with customers.
While she came into the business with no formal jewelry background, she said she has “a real love” of the product.
“I love the details of jewelry, and the design,” she said. “I’m very grateful to have played a part in the lives of those people, and we’ll miss them. Everybody has those pieces that mean something to them, no matter what they are. We bent over backwards for people but we loved to do it because we knew that deep down inside, it’s meant a great deal to somebody, and that was what was important.”