Bob and Sandy celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by having custom wedding rings made for each other by Hartley Jewelers.
As a career naval officer, Bob Barrett spent many years unable to wear his wedding band. So after retirement, and as he and wife Sandy's 50th wedding anniversary approached, the couple began to think about gifting one another with custom-made wedding rings.
But that wasn't what initially brought them to Hartley Jewelers.
The couple needed several jewelry pieces appraised. Their son and daughter-in-law, who live in Olympia, recommended Hartley Jewelers.
"We also had another jeweler tell us that for what we wanted done, the place to go to was Hartley Jewelers," says Bob Barrett. "The reputation of their firm was incredible."
The two-and-a-half-hour driving distance from Bob and Sandy's home on the Olympic Peninsula proved to be well worth it.
"We were extremely impressed with the staff," says Bob. "They obviously knew what they were doing, and were very professional. We felt very comfortable leaving our jewelry with them."
On their second appraisal visit, they broached the subject of having custom wedding rings made with owner Rick Hartley.
Bob still had his original wedding band, of course — the one that he didn't get to wear much, during his naval career.
"You're very strongly urged not to wear rings when you're in service – especially in the Navy," he explains. "It's too easy for a ring to get caught up in a rope or stanchion or something like that, where the ring stays put, but the hand keeps moving."
Sandy's ring includes three large diamonds that she inherited from a dear friend. One of the smaller side diamonds came from her engagement ring, and the channel-set stones from various pieces the couple had.
He didn't want to give up the old ring, but he liked the idea of a custom-made wedding band.
"So we came up with the idea that to celebrate our 50th, we'd get rings for each of us," says Bob, "and this is what evolved, with the help of Hartley Jewelers."
"They showed us samples in the display case and we selected a general design concept," he continues. "Rick then exchanged emails with us with drawings he made."
The couple went through quite a few design alterations. "Rick would email us ideas and we would send feedback," says Sandy. The couple changed their minds a few times. "He was very patient with us," she continues, laughing.
The couple drove to Olympia for another visit to refine the designs further, and then got to see wax impressions of what the final rings would look like, with the larger diamonds in place.
"In my case," Bob explains, "it was obvious that the band was too wide. It just felt uncomfortable on my finger." Rick trotted back to his work area and returned a few minutes later having trimmed down the band to exactly the right width.
"It was very much hands-on, empirical," Bob says of the design process. "It worked really well."
Sandy's ring resembles a flower, with three large stones in the middle and three smaller ones on the side. "One of the smaller diamonds was my engagement ring," says Sandy. "The larger ones were inherited from a really good friend."
In fact, most of the diamonds used in both rings came from family or older pieces of jewelry the couple already owned.
"I had a pin with a couple small diamonds in it," says Bob. "They had to match one of the small diamonds on my ring with their stock, but beyond that the majority of the stones came from things we had in our family."
The couple utterly enjoyed the entire design process at Hartley Jewelers and wouldn't hesitate to recommend Rick Hartley and his fantastic staff to anyone looking for an appraisal or new piece of jewelry.
The knowledge, history, and talent of Rick Hartley and his team meant both rings were crafted with special attention to details that truly make them shine – both figuratively and literally.
"Rick made some final design recommendations," says Bob. "For instance, while the rings are both primarily yellow gold, he recommended the diamonds be backed in white gold so you get a better brilliance out of them."
"People notice and admire my rings all the time and say, 'Wow, those really sparkle!'" says Sandy. "So of course we tell them where they were created."