It’s a Thursday morning in early February and Jack Weinstein is taking part in a photo session for Vegas Seven inside a lavish suite at the top of the Westgate Las Vegas Resort. He’s been here before. Weinstein recalls a time back in the ’90s when he was hanging out in the same suite with President Bill Clinton. “I don’t remember exactly what the occasion was,” Weinstein says. “But he gave a speech and then we had about three or four hours until he had to leave. So we sat up here and drank champagne.”
So what did they talk about? “Just things in general.”
What was the president like? “He’s just a straight nice guy. Not a wiseguy.”
The story is typical of how the renowned jeweler carries himself—reserved yet friendly, with plenty of old Vegas charm and not always ready to spill the beans. As the owner of Tower of Jewels, he’s had a few celebrity clients over the past 53 years, including Elvis Presley, who used to stay at the Westgate when it was known as the International Hotel and later the Hilton. The King visited the shop “a couple times,” usually to buy “little trinkets for women,” Weinstein says.
That’s as far as Weinstein goes with the gossip. He’s much more eager to discuss a long-term relationship with Strip icons Siegfried and Roy. “They’re terrific people,” he says. “They give away a lot of very nice jewelry.”
Weinstein will return to a ballroom at the Westgate on February 25 to celebrate his 90th birthday. The event was supposed to be a surprise, but “Polly made it famous,” Weinstein says, referring to his daughter, who helps run Tower of Jewels along with his wife, Nancy, and sons Joey and Sean.
The birthday party will also raise money and awareness for Casa de Luz, a nonprofit church that helps support families and reduce crime in the Naked City community, just blocks away from Tower of Jewels. “That’s the part I like best,” Weinstein says.
His generosity runs deep, whether it’s supporting a charity or handing out a few dollars to help people with the groceries or a phone bill. “Once you start, there’s no end,” Weinstein says. “But I don’t care. They work. They’re nice people. They just don’t have money.” His philosophy of giving has been a part of his life for decades. “I do it nice and private. Hardly anybody knows about it except the people I help.”
“And now the whole city,” laughs Polly. She points out that despite the family’s success, they’ve always remained in the gritty heart of Las Vegas, living Downtown when others left for more affluent areas. “We like that it’s real and it’s home,” she says. “It suits us because we’re not living in a castle somewhere. That’s not our style.”
“I’ve been there 42 years,” Weinstein adds. “It takes me six minutes to get to the store.” He actually bought his home from a customer. “We traded him jewelry for the house. He was happy and we were happy.”
Personal relationships have been the cornerstone of this family business, which manufactures its own products. “It’s not a matter of saving money,” Weinstein says. “Anyone who handles a product must make a profit. If we make the item, then we own it for less than anyone else. And we can make a profit and sell it for much less than anyone else.” That also means Tower of Jewels can create virtually anything a customer desires (while taking out patents on two of its own unique diamond cuts—a round and an emerald). Anyone who buys an item can have it polished at no charge. There’s also a VIP program that offers discounts on future purchases.
Weinstein first got into jewelry in Detroit and moved to Los Angeles to sell watches wholesale. He soon found himself doing business with a shop in Las Vegas called Tower of Jewels and was given an opportunity to take over the store in 1964. He eventually moved it from Fremont Street to Sahara at Commercial Center, a sprawling collection of businesses just east of the Strip that’s still around today and is best known for the Lotus of Siam restaurant.
“The Center was very progressive,” Weinstein recalls. “We would help other jewelers in there, because they couldn’t do certain things, and we could do it for them. When we moved out, their business went down.” Tower of Jewels was growing and needed more space, so it took over Bertha’s across the street, a store that was famously targeted in a mob break-in by Tony “The Ant” Spilotro.
Like most everyone else in Las Vegas, Tower of Jewels struggled when the market crashed in 2008. “Everything evaporated,” Weinstein says. The store was able to make some adjustments and ride out the downturn. “Little by little we’re building our business back up again.”
Now that he’s turning 90, Weinstein is officially retiring, and the family is weighing options on how to best move forward with Tower of Jewels. However, he’s been having second thoughts and is considering a different approach. “I think I’ll semi-retire,” he says, while noting that he can still be found in the shop six days a week. “I don’t want to retire completely because I enjoy what I do.”