Cryptocurrency Milestone: Milwaukee-Area Jewelry Store Chain Begins Accepting Bitcoin

MILWAUKEE (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/TNS) -

If you have some bitcoin burning a hole in your digital wallet, consider buying some real gold.

Milwaukee-area chain The Jewelry Center is now accepting the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

The Jewelry Center announced Thursday it would accept bitcoin, and the company is anxiously waiting for its first cryptocurrency purchase.

“I told all the salespeople to get a picture,” said Joe Kelnhofer, The Jewelry Center’s digital marketing director.

Customers will be able to pay for jewelry and services at the stores in bitcoin. The purchase price will be converted from dollars to bitcoin using the current exchange rate.

Managers at the stores have the mobile app BitPay on their phones connected to an account for the jeweler to process the transactions.

Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are digital assets that move through the internet in a similar way to cash. The digital money trades in peer-to-peer transactions without a third party.

One main critique of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin has been their conversion to physical goods. Many people are still wary of using the unregulated currency that does not have the backing of a government, central bank or physical gold.

“If anything, it’s a fun marketing campaign,” Kelnhofer said.

The Jewelry Center sells engagement rings and wedding rings along with other jewelry such as pendants and earrings. It also provides services including watch repair and custom engraving. The Jewelry Center has three locations, in Greenfield, Brookfield and Burlington.

Given the volatile cryptocurrency market, Kelnhofer said the shop will be conservatively holding its bitcoin. Kelnhofer said The Jewelry Center intends to start accepting other cryptocurrencies throughout 2018. The company is not charging an additional fee to process purchases in bitcoin. It will add charges such as sales tax onto the price before the conversion into bitcoin.

Bitcoin’s value dipped Friday to below $8,000 for the first time in 11 weeks in the midst of a broader cryptocurrency sell-off.

Notably, J.P. Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon called bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, a “fraud”, and told CNBC that he thought it would eventually “blow up.”

Meanwhile, Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett told CNBC last month that cryptocurrencies were likely to “come to a bad ending.”