James Robert Dunn started his career in 1967 as a sales representative for IBM. During a sales call to a jewelry company in Malden, MA, Jim picked up a magazine about the jewelry business and became intrigued. When his schedule allowed, Jim took correspondence courses in gemology and went to New York to learn about diamonds and colored stones. “I bought a little microscope and I was playing scientist at home,” he said.
While at IBM, Jim met his future wife, Ann Marie Pelliccia, who was working as an executive secretary. Like Jim, she was driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. She was 10 years old when her family immigrated to this country from Italy. It didn’t take long for Ann Marie to master the English language and become the interpreter for her father’s cabinet-making business. She went to work every day after school with her father from age 11 until she graduated high school. Soon after, she joined the team at IBM. “It was IBM that helped us forge our philosophies about customer service and business ethics,” said Ann Marie.
The couple married in 1969 and together decided to take a chance by starting a jewelry business. With their savings of $10,000, the couple purchased a small house in Hanover, MA, and converted it into their first jewelry store, The House of Gems.