By Lenore Fedow
Martin Siegel, chairman of Hamilton Jewelers, died Tuesday at the age of 86.
Princeton, N.J.—Martin Siegel, chairman of Hamilton Jewelers, died on Dec. 17 at the age of 86.

He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of jeweler Irving Siegel and his wife, Alice.

Siegel graduated from Duke University and went on to serve in the U.S. Army Artillery in Germany from 1953 to 1954.

After returning from the armed forces, he joined his father at Hamilton Jewelers, where he was elected president in 1968.

Siegel split his time between the Northeast, where the original Hamilton Jewelers is located, and Palm Beach, Florida, where two additional locations opened. 

Hamilton Jewelers said Siegel was instrumental in its rise from a local business to a household name in the industry, citing his innovative merchandising and marketing initiatives.

The jeweler credits its success in part to Siegel’s business philosophy—focus on quality and building friendly relationship-based business practices.

Siegel served as chairman of Hamilton Jewelers from 1994 until his death, giving him the opportunity to mentor employees and share his experience and knowledge.

“Mr. Siegel had a merchant’s eye and a keen sense for design and value,” Hamilton Jewelers said in a statement announcing his passing.

Siegel was said to be among the first jewelers in the United States to make room in his display cases for special Rolex timepieces with rare gem-set cases and bezels and stone dials, purchased with his Palm Beach clients in mind.

He had an eye for up-and-coming designers, taking an interest in their collections before they made it big.

Taking a page from his father’s book, it was common for Siegel to help a customer find an engagement ring and accept no payment, making a handshake agreement that the customer would pay whenever they were able to do so.

He received the shopper’s trust, and a customer for life, in return.

Outside of work, Siegel enjoyed sports. He played soccer and tennis in his younger years, including on the Duke University tennis team. 

He kept playing tennis throughout his life, serving as the chair of the Tennis Committee at Greenacres Country Club in New Jersey for years, and, later on, took up golf.

Siegel was active in his communities as well, both in the New Jersey area and Palm Beach.

He supported the Trenton Little League of New Jersey for more than 50 years and received the Crusade Citation from the American Cancer Society for his leadership in 1982.

20191219 Denise and Martin Siegel PhotoDenise and Martin Siegel were honored in May for their service to Greenwood House, a senior living and care facility in New Jersey.

New Jersey senior living and care facility Greenwood House honored Martin and his wife Denise at a charity gala in May for their years of support to the care center.

Siegel also sponsored children in Latin America for more than 20 years and was said to feel especially proud when he heard they graduated from upper school.

Hamilton Jewelers remembered Siegel as an eternal optimist, even when diagnosed with advanced squamous cell cancer 10 years ago.

“He remained unfailingly optimistic, keeping the cancer at bay and relishing in the 10 additional years he lived after his victory over the disease.”

In those 10 years, Siegel experience the birth of his youngest grandchild and the wedding of his oldest, spending time with the family he loved and at the Hamilton Jewelers stores.

“With all of his life’s accomplishments, and the people he cherished along the way, he loved and cherished his family most of all,” the company said.

“The patriarch of the Siegel family, he was the happiest, proudest and most loving husband, father and grandfather.”

Siegel is survived by his wife Denise; sons Hank (Lisette), Jeffrey (Heidi), Scott (Lucy), and Peter (Kari); and grandchildren Andrew (Betsey), Benjamin, Emily, Ellie, Hannah, Jake and Abigail.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Rita Goodman.

A service is planned for Friday at 2 p.m. at Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to The Martin Siegel Community Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation or to Greenwood House in Ewing, New Jersey.

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