Virginia Schroeder Hughes, who spent 56 years at Schroeder Jewelry in Caledonia, enjoyed helping couples find engagement rings and jewelry.
Virginia Schroeder Hughes, who spent 56 years at Schroeder Jewelry in Caledonia, enjoyed helping couples find engagement rings and jewelry.
Virginia Schroeder Hughes spent 56 years in the jewelry business at Schroeder Jewelry in Caledonia. She's retired now, having left the business last summer.

Hughes shared two stories of couples in love just starting out on their journey to the altar. She also shared one of a couple married for some time, who needed her services as a jeweler to keep their marriage alive.

Bigger and better

Hughes remembers a nice young man who came into the store looking for a wedding ring. He had in his mind a set price he would pay, so Hughes sold him a nice wedding set that she says he was happy with. Then the nice young man went home and gave his gal the ring.

However, Hughes relates, the next day in walked the newly engaged young woman, with the ring, alone. It appears the young woman had said yes to his proposal of marriage, but - she wanted a bigger diamond. Although her fiancé was in agreement, Hughes felt a little apprehensive about the situation. She showed the young woman bigger and better diamonds, of which she picked one and left on her merry way.

Finding harmony

Hughes remembers a couple that came to her looking for an engagement ring. They were a little older than most young couples who came to her for wedding sets, perhaps in their 30s. She remembers how happy they were, looking for a one-carat diamond they had to have that day.

"It was so much fun waiting on them," she remembers. The man liked whatever she liked, and they ended up choosing a ring the woman picked out.

When they were finished with the transaction, Hughes, who was enjoying working with the couple because they were enjoying choosing a ring, visited with them for a few minutes and asked how they met.

As it turns out this couple, so in love, met on the Internet through the e-Harmony website. Hughes, who has probably seen it all when it comes to couples just starting out, thought that was quite a neat way to find a spouse.

"I just enjoyed them," she said.

Fair trade

Hughes remembers a story of a married couple, not just starting out but already well into marriage. A farm wife, perhaps in her late 50s or early 60s, came to Hughes explaining her husband that very morning had announced he was going to buy a new combine. At that time it would have cost around $40,000 to $45,000.

The woman shared with Hughes what she told her husband, "Well, just fine. I've always wanted a one-carat diamond."

Hughes says the woman then told her what she was looking for. Because Hughes belonged to a special retail jewelers group, she had access to some of the best diamonds in the country and found something for the farm wife. Hughes noted, "She got her ring and he got his combine and everyone was happy."

Buying a ring

Hughes says the jewelry business has changed in that women go to the Internet to find rings they like. They can sit at home on the computer and shop at Zales or Kay Jewelers and pick out what they want, then drive to the store to buy it. "It's so different than what it used to be," said Hughes.

She also says styles are different. Marquis cut diamonds used to be in fashion, but now, for about the past five years, the style is square cut.

Hughes' advice to couples looking for rings is to be careful about buying a diamond for its price. Check the diamond for color and inclusions (black spots or an imperfection within the stone). She says that with technology, jewelers can change the color of the diamond through irradiation.

"I really miss the people," said Hughes of the years spent helping customers find the right jewelry to fit their needs. "It was fun to see the people coming into the store."