Jones turning silver into golden opportunity

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 8, 2000

Meet Jenny Jones.

No, we don't mean that controversial blonde talk show host.

Our Mrs. Jones is a soft-spoken, petite brunette who's an attractive and familiar face inside the Merle Norman Studio in Greenville.

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Jenny's been a part of the "family" there for two years.

She loves it, but it's certainly a contrast to her previous career.

For fifteen years Jenny put her sharp mathematical skills to use in accounting at a local bank.

Given the nature of the business, precision and absolute accuracy were essential to her position.

She was good at her work.

But more and more, her work seemed to become her life.

The demands of her position often left precious little time or energy to spend with those who mattered to her most-her family.

Married to husband Tony for 18 years, they are the parents of Brittany, 15, and her brother Mikah, 11.

" I found I was missing a lot of the kids' activities.

And once those moments are gone, they're gone-you can't go back and retrieve them, can you?" Jenny says with a wistful expression.

If only there were something else she could do which would give her more freedom, flexibility and a welcome change of pace.

Jenny loved silver jewelry; it was affordable; and it was increasing in popularity.

She decided to test the waters with a few local craft shows, displaying some silver pieces. The shows went well-but should she take it further?

It was a tough decision involving not just her personal future, but that of her family, also.

Two years ago Becky Welch, owner of the Merle Norman Studio, offered Jenny a special opportunity.

Jenny could set up her own jewelry shop in one corner of the cosmetics studio.

She'd be free to work a flexible part-time schedule.

Jenny decided to say "yes".

Leaving her 15-year banking career behind, she was now Jenny of "Jenny's Jewelry".

"Well, I must say it's really different from my work at the bank.

Of course, I'm still working with numbers, but it's on a much less stressful level.

And I'm getting to spend time with the family-a big reason I chose to do this in the first place," Jenny says, adding,

"Becky and I work well together.

If she needs me to help sell some of her product, I'll do it gladly, and the reverse is true, also.

We are helpmates to each other."

Jenny is proud of the growing success of her small business, and enjoys talking about the product she offers.

She emphasizes the quality of the jewelry, stating "I sell .925 sterling silver-not silver plate or tone. This isn't fashion jewelry', but a genuine precious metal."

Because it is the real thing, Jenny always recommends that customers seal their sterling pieces in zip-lock bags for protection.

Exposure to the air can cause an oxidation process discoloring the metal, which then requires lots of cleaning to remove it.

How do you keep your sterling silver jewelry shining?

"Specially treated polishing cloths work well with smooth or flat pieces." Jenny explains, continuing, "You can also use a sterling jewelry dip, but watch out-it's meant only for a quick dip, then a rinse.

Too many people just drop a piece in and leave it for hours."

Jenny shakes her head ruefully, adding,

"I've seen the unfortunate end results of that.

The chemical pits and corrodes the jewelry because they over-expose the sterling to it.

The silver dip's very effective, but it's STRONG.

Be careful."

Jenny carries a large selection of pieces in both contemporary and traditional styles to suit a variety of tastes. She strives to keep the prices in an affordable range for the local market-from $3 to $100. There are rings, earrings, pendants and brooches; some set with black onyx and marcasite stones.

Bracelets abound with cuff, bangle and beaded styles as well as bracelets set with a rainbow of semi-precious cabochon stones. One unique and popular item, Jenny says, is her pewter watch collection. These give the look of silver but require very low maintenance in comparison to sterling.

Other unique pieces include her spoon and baby jewelry.

While sterling silver is indeed the "real thing" just like 14k gold, it's more affordable and is actually more flattering to most people's skin tones.

And it continues to be the metal of choice for the fashion-conscious.

"Charm bracelets have become a sort of classic piece of jewelry-they never really go out of style.

We carry charms here for as little as $3, but there are hundreds, literally, we can special order for you.

They make them for all kinds of sports, hobbies, professions, all fifty states, cartoon characters . . . you name the subject, and there's probably a charm out there for it," Becky says, showing page after page of unusual charms in her catalog.

She also carries an item that's a particularly big seller during football season-unique Auburn and Alabama silver bracelets.

Jenny also provides an on-site engraving service for customers' convenience. "Every year I give an engraved pendant to our Jr. Miss contestants," explains Jenny.

In the beginning it took a great deal of hard work, lots of practice and liberal use of the buffing machine to remove any engraving "bloopers". Today, however, Jenny says she's very pleased with the professional-looking results and believes customers will be too, especially if daughter Brittany is doing the engraving work.

" Oh, how I struggled with that engraver at first-I felt like a total klutz.

But Brittany?" Jenny shakes her head with wonder, and smiles, adding, " That child's a natural with the engraving machine.

Her dexterity and eye-hand coordination are so good-she does a beautiful job and in much less time than I do.

It's amazing." Jenny admits.

She obviously takes pride and pleasure at having this talented 15-year-old actively helping Mom with the business.

In addition to her retail outlet, Jenny continues to do some craft shows and also holds home jewelry shows.

She now has the flexibility she'd dreamed of and is no longer forced to feel guilty about time spent away from her family.

She's selling merchandise she loves which she herself proudly wears.

She enjoys the chance to meet new people and even establish friendships through her business venture.

Jenny's a lady who went out in pursuit of a dream-not to be rich and famous, but to have a good, steady business; something fulfilling that would still allow plenty of time for the three most important people in her life: Tony, Brittany and Mikah.

Looks like sterling silver has provided the "golden" opportunity Jenny Jones had been looking for.