By Emily Etheredge
Although some trends in jewelry have changed since 1950, the family-owned business of Edwards Jewelers that has been open for 64 years in Clanton still likes to treat customers as if they are family.
“You get to know people who come in the store, and after you work with them they become like your family,” Edwards Jewelers owner Danny Edwards said. “Sometimes people will just stop by to say hello and see how we are doing.”
The jewelry store originally opened as one jewelry counter in Edwards and Daniel Home Furnishings furniture store.
In 1950, Eddie Edwards decided to open his own jewelry store and named it Edwards Jewelers.
Eddie’s son Danny, 56, who now runs the store located on Second Avenue in Clanton with his daughter Holly Price, said jewelry was always his father’s “niche.”
“The store had one jewelry cabinet at the time,” Danny Edwards said.
Danny said when the store opened, one of the popular items sold were engagement rings, but prices in diamonds differed from what diamonds cost today.
“Back then you could purchase a one-carat stone for about $1,000,” Danny said. “Now you could buy a one carat stone for about $6,000.”
Some other popular items at the store in the 1950s included cigarette lighters, watches, rings that turned into brooches and floating opals.
“I don’t know why, but floating opals were really popular back then,” Danny said. “A lot of women wore those but now you rarely see a floating opal.”
In 1970, the oldest son of Eddie Edwards, Rex Edwards, began workings at Edwards Jewelers while Eddie went on the road with Lovebright Diamonds selling jewelry to other jewelry stores.
It was in 1979 that Danny graduated from Auburn University with a degree in civil engineering and later joined his brother in the family business.
When Rex retired in 2009, Danny became the sole owner and now runs the store with help from Price.
“This makes three generations that have kept our businesses going over the years,” Price said. “I love working for my daddy. I have always admired how hard working and caring he is. He is a smart businessman and has a passion for what he does.”
Price said recently Danny expanded the store to allow for more display space with service and repairs for jewelry located in the back of the store.
Danny said repairs are made at the store using a laser, which is a newer technology in jewelry repair.
“They come out with new stuff all of the time and we try really hard to keep up with it,” Danny said. “Back then, most repairs were done by hand but now everything is done with a laser.”
Price said the store added Vera Bradley products and Pandora bracelet charms which are popular items to allow individuals in Chilton County the option to buy the brands locally.
“Having these items available in our store has really been great because you don’t have to travel far to get them,” Price said.
Price said the store participated in the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce six-month “Shop Local” campaign that encouraged Chilton County residents to spend their money at local businesses.
“That was a really neat thing for our business because we were able to promote our products and encourage others to shop locally for gifts and things,” Price said.
Price said sales for the store did increase during the campaign and the store used promotional tools on Facebook.
“We found that if we shared something on Facebook then others would view it and share that so it really helped spread the word,” Price said.
The business has seen different trends throughout the years but Danny said the popular times for couples to get engaged have remained the same.
“Every year at Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day you see a lot of couples get engaged,” Danny said. “What the people are buying in the way of diamonds has changed a bit but when the proposal happens has pretty much stayed the same.”
Danny estimates more than 1,000 customers have gotten engaged with diamonds purchased at Edwards Jewelers.
“It is too high to count,” Danny said. “We have known so many couples who have gotten engaged with a ring purchased at our store and then they continue coming in throughout the years for different things. That is one of the best parts of being in the jewelry business because you get to meet so many different people and hopefully have them continue coming in throughout the years.”