“Oh my goodness! Where has the time gone? I started in March of 1979. How can that be 40 years already? It is so hard to believe,” said Viola Wuske, owner of the Old Gold Jewelry store in Homewood. The business has been at 18701 Dixie Highway for 25 years.
“Oh my goodness! Where has the time gone? I started in March of 1979. How can that be 40 years already? It is so hard to believe,” said Viola Wuske, owner of the Old Gold Jewelry store in Homewood.
The business has been at 18701 Dixie Highway for 25 years.
Wuske enjoys doing fun things in the store. An upcoming event is an estate/antique jewelry show scheduled Tuesday through Friday, April 23 through 26. The show is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
“We will have many interesting, unique items on display. People can just come and browse or they might even find something that will bring them joy,” she said.
The words, joy, happiness and fun pop up often in Wuske’s description of the evolution of Old Gold.
Wuske’s first Old Gold store was located in Matteson in a strip mall at the corner of Route 30 and Main Street, the former location of a popular Dairy Queen. When the property was sold and the building demolished due to the widening of Route 30, she moved to another location near the newly-built Lincoln Mall. After a couple of years, a new developer bought the property and again, she needed to move.
For her third move, she wanted a building of her own and chose a location in Homewood.
“I knew Homewood was a great community for small businesses and I had always loved the friendly, neighborly atmosphere here,” Wuske said.
She chose the name Old Gold because many of her retail customers were repurposing old family jewelry and heirlooms. The store also did design work for businesses such as Rogers & Hollands, JC Penney and Montgomery Ward.
She has focused the current business on her love of gemstones, and attended Gem City College in Quincy, Illinois, to learn more.
“I loved rocks as a child and as I got older I realized I had a love and passion for them,” she said. “They are beautiful and in having this store I have the happiness of creating beautiful pieces of jewelry with them,” she said.
Wuske has gained a reputation for her work and often people stop by to see her latest displays of stones and hear the stories behind them.
“My business has basically grown through word-of-mouth. Many of my customers are third and fourth generation. It is those kinds of relationships that are the heart of my business. The pieces I design always represent a story from the customers and that is the joy of my business.”
She related one story about a couple who had been long-time customers. As their 25th wedding anniversary approached, they each came in separately and told her that they wanted to surprise the other and they swore her to secrecy.
The husband planned to upgrade his wife’s diamond wedding ring and she wanted to upgrade his wedding band. They each confided in Wuske about how they planned to surprise the other at their anniversary dinner at a fancy restaurant.
“It turns out that he got up to go the men’s room and she dropped the wedding band in his champagne. When he returned the server brought her an ice cream dessert with her new diamond on top. They told us that the whole restaurant joined in the celebration and everyone had a good laugh over the secret surprises.
“But this is the joy of what I do,” she said, and added that her long-time employees are part of the blessing. They love jewelry as much as I do and are just as passionate about it.”