Feature Friday – Smith Jewelers
Smith Jewelers in Leesville, Louisiana, has been serving the area near Fort Polk, a United States Army instillation in Vernon Parish, for more than 40 years. The store was founded by Marion J. Smith, a soldier turned store-owner whose years of service and devotion made him renowned among Louisiana jewelers. A great majority of Smith Jewelers’ customers are soldiers and also retired military due to their close proximity to Fort Polk. The store has been reached by soldiers from overseas to purchase engagement rings and even after families have moved on to other bases, they have still contacted the store to purchase and service their jewelry.
For years, the name Smith has been synonymous with excellence in the jewelry profession in north central Louisiana. The tradition began in 1950. Founder Marion J. Smith, after serving in two wars with the U.S. Navy, opened his first jewelry store in Crystal City, Texas. He sold the store when called to serve in the Navy Reserves. When he returned to his home in Jackson Parish, he married Girline Murphy of Jonesboro, Louisiana. For the next 15 years, Marion worked for Rogers Jewelry of Jonesboro, perfecting his skills in the jewelry industry. In 1966, Marion and Girline Smith opened their jewelry store and immediately went about building a strong reputation for Smith Jewelers’ first location in Hodge, Louisiana. As the business grew, Girline earned a degree in gemology and served as a National Bridal Consultant, one of the few trained professionals in this field. A store unrivaled in quality and prestige, Smith Jewelers was the hallmark location for jewelry fashion for north central Louisiana.
As Smith Jewelers prospered through the dedication and hard work of its founders and the loyalty of its customers, many individuals, both civic and professional, acknowledged the achievements of the family. In recognition of the Smith family’s attainment of excellence in the jewelry profession, Marion Smith was named president of the Louisiana Jewelers Association in 1971. His leadership qualities contributed to his being selected to serve in numerous civic capacities and other professional appointments, such as the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Jewelers Association for 23 years.
With business brisk and the Smith reputationfor quality well established, the family opened another store in Jackson Parish, this one on the boulevard of Main Street in Jonesboro, Louisiana. Just one year later, in 1974, the family would open another store, a venture that would bring Smith Jewelers to Leesville, Louisiana. This location has been the area’s headquarters for fine jewelry and service for 36 years. During these years, the Smiths have been repeatedly recognized as leaders in the industry. Smith Jewelers was selected as the first Outstanding Jeweler in Louisiana by the Louisiana Jewelers Association in 1977.
The current location on Highway 171 in Leesville is owned and operated by Marion and Girline’s daughter, Angela. Angie has earned degrees in jewelry repair, jewelry manufacturing arts, stone setting, and is a Graduate Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America. “The key to business today is networking,” Angie says, echoing the sentiments of her father. “If you don’t network with other jewelers, you’re out there on an island by yourself.”