Tues - Friday 10 - 5:30, Thurs 10 - 4, Sat 11 - 4
Fourth generation family-owned and operated, Lippa’s Estate and Fine Jewelry was founded in 1933 and is the oldest family-owned store on Church Street in Burlington, VT.
Lippa’s was founded by our Owner’s great-great Uncle Meyer Lippa, who grew up in the Boston area. Meyer started in the business of buying manufactured pieces out of Providence, Rhode Island, traveling around New England selling the pieces as well as buying gold from stores and whoever he could. Once he had completed his “route” in New England he would return to Providence, sell the gold to refiners and or the manufacturers and buy more merchandise and make another “loop”.
On one of his trips, he visited Burlington and decided he loved Burlington and set up a retail shop in 1933. Our first location was at 71 Church Street, where Ken’s Pizza is now! Then in the 1940s, Lippa’s moved to 38 Church Street. Where Dear Lucy is currently. Lippa’s next move was in 1946 to 46 Church Street, where it stayed until 1993. In 1993 Lippa’s moved to our current home at 112 Church Street.
Meyer passed away in 1955, Upon returning from service in WW2 Lippa’s was run by Mike’s grandparents, Bob and Eleanor Berger. Mike’s father, Jeff Berger, took over the business in 1970. Jeff retired in 2020 and then Mike took over and changed the direction to be more focused on estate jewelry.
Throughout its 90-year history, Lippas has had locations throughout Northern New York, including, Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, and Masina. Those three locations closed over the years. Church Street has remained constant and is now the oldest, family-run business remaining on Church Street.
Meet the Team
Mike grew up helping out in the family jewelry business. He studied marketing at the University of Denver in Colorado where he earned his BSBA in marketing. After graduating and not knowing what he wanted to “do”. He decided to enroll in the graduate gemologist program at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Carlsbad, California. Having grown up in the business this came pretty easy to him. While attending GIA, they hosted their symposium, Mike met up with an estate dealer who had done some trunk shows with his father in the past. He asked Mike “What are you doing after you graduate” and he replied he thought he would stay to take the graduate jeweler program. “You should choose either gemology or the bench but you won’t be a master at either if you try and split your time in the industry” This was the best advice he was given.
After graduating he was invited up to San Francisco to apply for the staff gemologist for an estate company. Mike recalls he was handed a tray of about 10 pieces, and told to identify the pieces and give values on them. He was extremely nervous as he had never seen such incredible pieces and GIA does not teach value just the ability to identify gemstones and diamonds and figure weights. He remembers seeing a 10-carat sapphire among other rare pieces.
He did well enough for the company to take a shot at him and was offered the job. Through his 10 years with the company he became the head gemologist and main buyer for the company, nothing was put into inventory without it crossing Mike’s eyes for approval. While there he was exposed to the rarest of the rare, including incredible colored diamonds, Kashmir sapphires, no-heat rubies, and very large diamonds. He recalls it was an education/ opportunity of a lifetime that he will be forever grateful for.
After about 10 years he decided to move back home to help the family business. Since returning back to Vermont Lippa’s has transformed into primarily an estate jewelry company.