By Claudie Benjamin
“That’s one of my father’s,” says jeweler Maurice Paredes, as his wife Micaela, shows off the necklace she is wearing. The gold, Egyptian-inspired piece is dramatic.
“We’re Peruvian, but Leo, my father, thought he should have been born in the belly of an Egyptian princess,” says Maurice. He and Micaela are owners of the Goldmine. Their jewelry shop business focuses on gold, silver, diamonds; buy, sell and trade, repairs and even batteries. Yes. Some people still do wear watches.
Goldmine is located at 265 Amsterdam Avenue on the side of The Van Dyke, the building that stretches between the northeast corner of 72nd Street & Amsterdam Avenue and the southeast corner of Amsterdam and 73rd Street.
In 1968, Leo and his young family were living in Lima, Peru. He was working as a jeweler during the months when the military took over the government and his family lost their business. Leo’s top concern was for the safety of his 11-year old son. “He put me on a plane and sent me to New York.” Arriving in the Bronx, Maurice lived with his uncles. His father joined the next year. Leo was working in a jewelry booth in the 47th Street jewelry district. Soon, he had his own booth. As an adolescent, Maurice began to learn the trade helping his father after school and on weekend trips back to the city while he was a SUNY New Paltz student. “I arranged my classes to do this.” Later he worked with his father in shops he owned on Third Avenue and on 112th Street and Broadway.
Micaela grew up on 111th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. She went to parochial schools and then to Hunter College. Her mother was a Goldmine customer. One day she walked in with Micaela, her tall, beautiful daughter. “That was it,” says Maurice. “I knew she was the one.”
In 1986, Maurice opened his own jewelry store. He acted on a friend’s suggestion that he consider taking over the lease from a man who owned a shoe store at Gold Mine’s current location. A brief conversation later, the deal was done. The Goldmine just off 72nd Street opened in 1986. The other locations have since closed.
Maurice and Micaela are proud to be among the few Mom & Pop shops left in the neighborhood. They closed for three months during the worst of Covid. Now, although not fully recovered, business has picked up. On a recent afternoon, over just a few minutes, numerous customers with special orders were in and out. One woman needed a new latch for a bracelet she has had for ages.
Another, was thrilled when Micaela handed her a made-to-order silver wedding ring she had ordered that morning. The customer said she had been married for ten years but without “a real ring”. This ring was essential for the 10th Anniversary celebration. “It gets better after ten years,” she planned to return to have the engraving done inside the band of the ring. Then, a man came in with another pressing need. A sculptor of abstract jewelry made in bronze, he wanted to have the piece buffed before it was given as a gift later that afternoon. “I’ll see what I can do. I’ll call you back in 20-minutes,” Maurice responded. Later, Micaela said, “We were able to polish the bronze pendant and the gentleman was very happy.” More usual requests involve repairing watches and reconfiguring heirloom jewelry to match the style of a younger generation.
Through the years of working in the jewelry business—work conducted mostly indoors—Maurice pursued another very different passion—long distance bicycle riding. We are not talking casually here. In August 2000, Maurice completed the 510-mile Pallotta TeamWorks Alaska AIDS Vaccine ride, which raised $4 Million for AIDS research. Maurice was among 1,200 bicyclists who completed the race. He personally raised $4,500 for the cause. Another more recent ride took him from the Andes to the Amazon. Though Micaela does bike, cycling 100-miles a day (as her husband does), is not her idea of relaxing. The couple says they both love to vacation in Costa Rica.
A few months ago, when the stress of Covid was getting to him and he was yearning for a normal life, Micaela bought her husband a present she knew would lift his spirits – a 2022 Triumph motorcycle!