Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The traditional gift for a 60th anniversary is diamonds, but diamonds weren’t nearly as popular when Ruth Haney started in the jewelry business 60 years ago, she explained.
“You didn’t have all these diamonds! You may have had a few, and a set of diamonds sold for about $39 or $40, something like that. You didn’t sell too many. You sold plain wedding bands.”
“You hardly ever sold a large diamond,” she continued. “You sold smaller diamonds.”
Watches were a bigger part of her business then too.
“You fit bands on watches,” she explained. “And I sold a lot of watches.”
Men, she explained, didn’t wear a lot of jewelry.
“At that time, they wore a watch, and they wore a wedding band,” she said.
Because there were no department stores in the city, she explained, her shop was where many of those men bought their watches. It’s also where many brought them to have them fixed.
Along with watch sales, watch repairs were an integral part of the business from the beginning.
“Of course, he was a watch repairman, the fellow that was in here,” she explained. So, when she bought the business, she had to learn how to repair watches herself – even though she had no background in it at all.
“I had no idea what a watch looked like inside. I don’t know if I even had one,” she said with a laugh. “But I now can do all that (watch repair). I do a lot of it… a whole lot of work at my bench now.”
Any repair work she can’t do herself she has someone she can send it out to. Same with ring sizing – she’s worked with the same sizer and jewelry repairman for forty years. By this point, she knows the business.
For someone who has spent so much of her life in the watch and jewelry business, though, her entry was quite serendipitous.
“I came in here one day, just to come in the store, and this feller asked me if I’d work three days a week. He said, ‘All I want you to do now is just clean and do so forth.’ Well, I worked about six, maybe seven, months and we bought it. My husband and I bought it. And I’ve been here ever since.”
“I had no idea what jewelry was about,” she continued, “but I have learned and experience, as you know, helps.”
And, even after 60 years, she said, she still isn’t done adding to that experience.
“Every day it seems like you can learn something,” she said.
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