Golden's Designer Jewelry in Rogers closing; couple retiring after 47 years in jewelry business

Couple retiring after 47 years in jewelry business

Brenda Hester helps a customer on Wednesday Dec. 22 2021 at Golden's Designer Jewelry.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Brenda Hester helps a customer on Wednesday Dec. 22 2021 at Golden's Designer Jewelry. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

ROGERS -- For Barry Golden Hester and Brenda Hester, owners of Golden's Designer Jewelry, there is nothing like watching a customer's face light up the first time they see a piece of custom-made jewelry.

The couple's passion for designing and creating jewelry has led them to be a part of weddings, anniversaries and other milestones for generations of their customers' families.

On Christmas Eve, the Hesters plan to retire after 47 years in the jewelry business. Golden's Designer Jewelry will open for the last time from 9 a.m. to noon Friday.

The Hesters and their business have had a significant impact on downtown Rogers, according to Karen Wagaman, vice president of downtown development for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. The couple has worked hard to build downtown into what it is today, she said.

Barry Hester started his career in banking, making and designing silver and turquoise jewelry in his bedroom during his spare time, he said. It wasn't long before he was making more money with his side gig than he did at the bank. In 1974, he opened his first store in Jonesboro, he said.

Soon, Barry Hester was recruited to do repair work for some large retailers and started a business in Oklahoma City. In 1984 he came back to Arkansas and opened a trade shop in Rogers. His biggest client was Walmart, and he took care of repairs for more than 1,000 stores. During this time, he also started making custom-designed jewelry for the public.

In 1994, the couple married, and they also purchased and renovated their current building, located at 206 W. Walnut St. Brenda Hester obtained her certification in horology -- the art of making clocks and watches -- and together the couple opened Golden's in 1995.

Brenda Hester ran the daily operations of the business so Barry Hester could focus on the art of making jewelry. Golden's, a play on Barry's middle name, specialized in custom-designed jewelry, special orders and repairs, gun engraving and watch repairs.

Barry Hester has enjoyed working with customers to determine their individual style and then using his skill as a jeweler to make their dream into a reality. He signs and dates each piece he creates.

"My whole focus was never trying to sell you something; it was trying to make you something," he said.

Jewelry often carries a lot of sentiment and has a very close personal attachment to the person it belongs to, Barry Hester said. For example, wearing a grandmother's ring or a father's watch is often very meaningful, he said.

"I think that is a part of the jewelry industry I have loved the most -- being a part of their engagements, weddings, anniversaries," he said.

Over the years, customers have invited the couple to weddings or shared their engagements with the Hesters on Facebook. After a customer passed away, the Hesters resized and cleaned the ring they made for 40 years ago for her granddaughter.

"We've shared so many wonderful moments with our customers," he said.

Brenda Hester said some of her best memories are the pieces her husband has created that made customers so happy they started crying.

"He has exceeded their expectations, and you see that look in their eyes, the smile and surprise on their face, it's unbelievable," she said.

In 2000, Barry Hester went through a grueling testing process with Jewelers of America in New York and became the 68th Certified Master Bench Jeweler in the U.S. There are only 124 jewelers who carry the highest level of Bench Professional Certification.

He also studied under three master firearms engravers to learn basic hand engraving, western flare cutting and complete firearms engraving.

Not only did Golden's Designer Jewelry attract a diverse group of people to downtown Rogers, the couple has given a lot of time to volunteering and are very committed to the community, according to Wagaman.

Brenda Hester used her administrative skills to became one of the founders of nonprofit merchant's association Rogers Downtown Partners, also known as Go Downtown Rogers. The organization recently announced it will dissolve at the end of the year.

Brenda Hester partnered with other volunteers to create, promote and volunteer for dozens of events for many years to raise awareness, build community, and attract people to shop, dine and conduct business in Downtown Rogers, Wagaman said.

"Barry and Brenda are perfect examples of entrepreneurs who built a successful 'Mom and Pop' business," she said.

Barry Hester said he's thankful to Northwest Arkansas for the wonderful life the couple has had here and the opportunity to build their own business.

After they retire, the Hesters will offer a few unique, finished jewelry items online that will ship directly to customers.

Although retirement is bittersweet, the couple said they are looking forward to traveling and having more freedom.

  photo  Gun engraving is one of Barry Hester's specialties. He shows a rifle on Wednesday Dec. 23 2021 that he's finished for a customer. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
  photo  Brenda and Barry Hester, in their store on Wednesday Dec. 22 2021, are retiring after decades in the jewelry business. Their store, Golden's Designer Jewely in downtown Rogers, be open for the final day on Christmas Eve. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

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