Best Jewelry Store: Markman's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry

Best Jewelry Store Runners-Up: Bliss, Lamon Jewelers, Kimball's Jewelers

Ease open the smooth, silent door and enter a peaceful sanctuary—hushed tones, mahogany and glass cases showcasing dazzling gems, cool green and blue walls, thick pile carpet. And then note the framed ads along the back wall, one featuring our favorite jewelry gent Harold Markman in a fedora. Emerging from the trunk of a car. Don't ask. Just enjoy the smoothly melded contradictions that have this dealer of fine jewelry winning its 15th straight MP award—never missing a year since the first votes were cast and counted by abacus in 1994. Certainly, the inventory is of the highest quality, featuring impressive designers like Scott Kay and Tacori.

The staff, including Markman himself most days, is quietly knowledgeable on cost, cut, color—you can't stump 'em. But there's an underlying playful humor, too, an "everybody invited to do jewelry" feel that's backed up by a surprising range of prices. If you come in, Mr. Markman or one of his capable surrogates will relish showing you the ad, or a $25 necklace, or gems that are way, way, out of your price range. Let's get this out of the case! they'll say. And they're just as helpful setting down the A-Z steps if you're there to make the, ahem, most important investment of your emotional life. Sterling characters, these people.