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Monadnock Profiles: Jacquie Hobbs is in the business of creating memories

  • Hobbs Jewelers co-owner Jacquie Hobbs is carrying on the legacy her father built over 50 years in the industry, one custom piece, repair and sale at a time. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Hobbs Jewelers co-owner Jacquie Hobbs is carrying on the legacy her father built over 50 years in the industry, one custom piece, repair and sale at a time. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Hobbs Jewelers co-owner Jacquie Hobbs is carrying on the legacy her father built over 50 years in the industry, one custom piece, repair and sale at a time. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Hobbs Jewelers co-owner Jacquie Hobbs is carrying on the legacy her father built over 50 years in the industry, one custom piece, repair and sale at a time. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Hobbs Jewelers co-owner Jacquie Hobbs is carrying on the legacy her father built over 50 years in the industry, one custom piece, repair and sale at a time. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 8:54PM

Jacquie Hobbs still remembers the first job her father Paul gave her at the family jewelry store.

She was 12 years old and had begged him to be able to help. So she was given some knotted-up chains and spent an afternoon untangling them, in hopes of it leading to more meaningful tasks in the future.

It’s been more than 40 years since her introduction to the business. Her father purchased the business in 1964, then located on Grove Street in Peterborough, which he renamed Hobbs Jewelers. It’s safe to say her responsibilities around the store have grown a little bit. Hobbs always knew she’d one day work with her dad, but first she went to Endicott College, where she studied fashion and retail, worked at another jewelry store in Salem, Massachusetts for five years to learn more about the industry, and then attended the Gemological Institute of America to further her knowledge.

Then she came home.

For many years she worked side by side with her dad – just as she always intended to. And when Paul suddenly passed away in January 2015 after a fall, the store just wasn’t the same. But Jacquie Hobbs’s son, Curt, had come a few weeks earlier to help out for the holidays and now, more than four years later, he represents the third generation to handle the jewelry needs of the Monadnock Region.

“He’s been a huge blessing for me,” Hobbs said. “His personality is much like my father.”

As someone who has spent her entire adult life in the jewelry business, Hobbs has been a part of some pretty big moments in customers lives. When people come in looking for an engagement ring, it’s a significant step and one that Hobbs finds they want to talk about. She hears all about their significant other, plans for the proposal and even gets a return visit to learn how it all went. She’s also noticed a trend in recent years.

“A lot of young couples are coming home to make their engagement rings, many using family stones, and I wish my father could see this. He was such a sensitive and kind romantic,” Hobbs said.

There was one guy who hid his engagement ring under a rock at a park only to launch into a momentary panic the next day when the ring wasn’t there. Turns out, he picked up the wrong rock on his first attempt, only to find it moments later.

Another gentleman decided to throw his future wife for a loop and asked her on his birthday.

“It’s nice to be part of such a special event in someone’s life,” Hobbs said. “It’s a pretty special field to be in.”

But it’s not just engagement rings. There’s special items for birthdays and anniversaries, along with sad moments like when people are looking to create a locket to remember someone who has died.

“I definitely cry with my customers, just like I laugh with them,” Hobbs said.

What she loves doing is designing a custom piece, which is the largest part of the business. It starts with an idea from a customer, she asks a few questions about style and taste, and she sketches out what comes to mind. From there it takes a lot of baby steps to get the piece just right. 

And with too many sales to count, Hobbs doesn’t remember the first piece she sold.

“But I remember the first item I broke for a customer,” she said.

It was a pair of shell earrings and she pressed down just a little too hard when gluing them together.

“Every piece of jewelry holds a memory and a story, so I just felt awful,” Hobbs said. “Luckily the woman was very nice about it.”

And while Hobbs’ memory isn’t the best when it comes to names, she will always remember a face and a voice – and of course, a piece of jewelry.

Along the way, Hobbs has gotten plenty of advice, but there’s one bit that sticks out.

“Someone once told me, there’s one way to do it and it’s the right way,” Hobbs said. “You do something once and you do it right, and you’ll never have to do it again.”

And it’s the same way her father looked at things. That’s why he was able to take over the small store and grow it into a business that will mark 55 years this year, including the last nine in their Depot Square location.

“Someone came in when he first opened it as Hobbs and said why are you opening a jewelry store here, you’re never going to make it,” Hobbs said. “But my dad would not give up.”

Now, Hobbs is co-owner with her mom, Marjorie, who still works about seven hours a week and is responsible for the window displays.

Its nice for Hobbs to have her mom around the store, especially with how much she misses seeing her dad every day. She loves going to work, partly because of the customers and partly because of the staff. She gets to work with her son and the latest addition to the team, Jen Fox, is like the daughter she never had. Coincidentally, Fox’s great-grandmother worked at the jewelry store Paul Hobbs purchased, her grandmother was a faithful customer and her mom worked right next door. Talk about a small world.

And while the business consumes most of her time, Hobbs still always finds time to get away to her go-to vacation spot, Moody Beach in Maine. She loves being outdoors and is big into gardening, both vegetables and flowers. She’s a reader, but doesn’t belong to any clubs, instead opting to go at her own pace.

But for Hobbs, her life is about the family business. She wants to uphold the same standards her dad set all those years ago.

“This is how I grew up. I really haven’t known any different,” Hobbs said. “This  meant the world to my dad.”