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History of Paffrath’s
Starting out as a watchmaker in Wadena and then Duluth, Minnesota, Rudolf “Rudy” Paffrath saw his future in the diamond business. With his young wife, Katherine, Rudy relocated to the thriving railroad town of Willmar, Minnesota. It was here that Rudy sold the very first Paffrath diamond. The year was 1926. The rest is history.
Rudy’s son, Lowell, would recall being at the store with his Dad, watching him interact with customers and learning the skills of a true watchmaker and diamond merchant. He was determined to some day add his talents to his father’s trade. In 1951 Paffrath Jewelers became Paffrath & Son Jewelers. Lowell proved to have a remarkable energy and a natural instinct for the business.
During Lowell’s tenure several changes took place. Paffrath’s stopped selling plate ware and silverware. Handling the inventory was just too time-intensive. To promote his new focus on fine diamonds, Lowell broke new ground by advertising on television. His commercials aired weekly.
Lowell’s passion was his family. He loved watching his kids play sports, and celebrated their achievements. His kids were also very proud of their father, taking delight when friends would say, “I saw your dad on TV!”
Initially Todd obtained his degree in teaching and coaching. Eventually, however, he was drawn into the family business and worked side-by-side with his father, becoming the owner of Lowell’s flagship store in Willmar where everything began in 1926. In the 1970’s Lowell added stores in Alexandria, Faribault and Owatonna, Minnesota. Sons Joel and Ted eventually became owners of the stores in Alexandria and Owatonna, respectively.
Todd entered the business in 1981. While Todd was selling diamonds, his wife Diane was teaching special education. They had a daughter Jennifer and son Jeff was on the way. Daughter Lyndsey arrived five years later. Over the years Todd has continued the traditions his grandfather, Rudy, established in 1926. Paffrath Jewelers continues to offer jewelry service and repair on-premise. Jewelry cleaning and inspection is still done at no charge, and diamonds are still ‘hand selected’. Paffrath customers remain a top priority.
Paffrath’s is all about longevity and consistency. Todd recalls his grandfather’s first employee, an employee he recruited by offering 10 cents more per hour than she was currently being paid. That employee was Jerri Johnson. Jerri also worked for Lowell and eventually Todd – a 46 year career in total. Now Todd and son Jeff continue to enjoy hearing the stories of Rudy and Lowell from faithful Paffrath customers.
Today, Todd finds that people are interested in much larger diamonds and purchase a greater variety of fine jewelry. Paffrath diamonds and our South African collection are of legendary beauty; hallmarked for authenticity and AGS certified.
The Paffrath family is blessed with many special memories, and their story continues in ‘real time’. Enter 2011… Todd and Diane are now the proud grandparents of four. Son Jeff who obtained his business degree has joined his father so there are now four generations in the family diamond business. His wife, Marni Knutson Paffrath, is a kindergarten teacher and together they have a son, Grant, and a daughter, Olivia. Jennifer, is a special education teacher in New London specializing in Speech/Language Pathology and her husband Matthew Hanson, also owner of a family business, have a daughter, Ava and a son, Samuel. Lyndsey, is also a special education teacher specializing in Speech/Language Pathology here in Willmar and her
husband Thomas Bice, is pursuing a career in the medical field.
Jeff and his father promise that this family legacy is….
‘to be continued’.