1 of 6
Sgt. Cary Lockhart and his wife were 25 and 20 in this photograph on display in the Lockhart Jewelers showroom.
2 of 6
Keith Lockhart holds a photograph of his father, Cary Lockhart.
3 of 6
A note Keith Lockhart received from one of his youngest customers.
4 of 6
Keith Lockhart works on a piece of jewelry.
5 of 6
Keith Lockhart works on a piece of jewelry in his workshop inside the store.
6 of 6
Keith Lockhart does repair work inside the Lockhart Jewelers retail location at 6601 Youree Dr.
Keith Lockhart is a truly happy man. In fact, I've never encountered anyone who just plain exudes happiness the way he does. In conversation he comes out with pronouncements like, "Every year I think it can't get any better than this; and then it does! It just keeps getting better and better!"
When you walk into Lockhart Jewelers at 6601 Youree Dr., it feels as if you are walking into someone's home -- someone's very fine home. Proudly displayed on a nice table in the "living room" area is a picture of Sgt. Cary Lockhart and his glowing wife. They were 25 and 20 in the picture and as handsome a couple as you can imagine.
Cary had come home to Ringgold after World War II and was looking for a job. He knew that life had more in store for him than working in a local sawmill. His brother-in-law introduced him to watchmaking and repairing. The intricacies of that art got Cary thinking about learning how to make fine jewelry. He set out to find someone who could teach him those skills and came to Shreveport, where the old master jewelry manufacturer C. E. Mounce took him in as an apprentice. Cary worked for Mounce for 15 years. Having mastered the art, Cary decided the time was right to open his own business and did so in 1960. Over the next 30 years, Cary Lockhart became the Ark-La-Tex's leading manufacturer of custom jewelry, supplying most of the retail jewelers with his exquisite offerings.
By the year 1980, business had grown so profusely that Cary knew he couldn't keep up with the demand and, fortunately for all concerned, that's when Keith decided to join his dad and learn the business while earning his bachelor's degree from Louisiana Tech University. Then in 1990, father and son decided it was time to make the move into retail. Keith's jewelry manufacturing skills soared and his astute management of the retail business was so successful that he was able to buy the store and make it possible for his dad to retire.
In 1999, Keith sought and found the perfect location for a stand-alone retail store with room for his manufacturing shop; the demand for his custom pieces has continued to grow.
Keith believes that "a piece of jewelry is more than a possession; it represents a moment in your life. It becomes part of your life."
Now I know next to nothing about such treasures, but as I was allowed to hold an object that is destined to become part of someone's life, I marveled at the way it appeared to be one solid piece of woven golden twigs. But I had seen him open it up; it was a bracelet, after all. I gingerly tried to open it. So intricately was it made that I couldn't locate the place where it parted, and I was terrified that I might injure it in my clumsiness. When I pulled on it the correct way, it swung open on absolutely invisible hinges--invisible to me until Keith pointed out the near microscopic gold pins that he had fitted into tiny loops to form hinges. I asked him how much such a piece would cost. When he casually responded $16,000, my foremost thought was to get it back into his hands as quickly as possible.
Going into Lockhart Jewelers' place of business was more like visiting a good friend in his home. Maybe it's strange to some, but I walked out of Keith's "home/business" a happier person than when I had walked in. No wonder he is so sure that "things are going to just keep getting better."
-- By Chuck Lambert