You might think that celebrating its 89th birthday March 1 makes Rost Jewelers a Pulaski institution — but it is more than just age that gives this family-run business that distinction.
Located on the Courthouse Square since 1935 and currently managed and operated by the third and fourth generations of Rosts, it is the family feel imparted to its customers that makes the difference.
"We feel 89 years of business says for itself that we care about our patrons and do everything we can to make their experience with us top notch," Melissa Schwab (Keith Rost's oldest daughter) explained. "We love making a living, but we cherish making lifelong friends and memories."
The Rost story began in 1916 when Roscoe Rost received his degree in Horology, the manufacture and maintenance of time pieces, from Bradley School of Horology in Peoria, Ill. Roscoe went to work for E.H. Murray in Pulaski, meeting and marrying Lucille Griffin of Minor Hill. After a brief absence during his service in World War I and a return to Peoria, Roscoe and his family returned to Pulaski and to the Murray Jewelry store in 1924
In 1928, with a shop available under the old First National Bank building, Roscoe took a chance when Murray Jewelry closed and the rest, as they say, is history.
With the birth of son Duane, the next generation of jewelers was secured. Duane worked in the store through high school and up until his service in World War II. He and wife Elise Abernathy married in 1946 and bought the store from Roscoe in 1966.
Their sons, Ray and Keith, continue at Rost today, along with any number of other family members who drop in from time to time to help with the running of the store.
Both boys began working part-time at the store at the age of 12, and have spent the years since honing and advancing their various skills.
Keith continued working summers during college and after graduating with a Bachelor's in business, returned to the business full-time. Today, Keith remains the resident manager, jeweler, engraver, buyer, payroll aficionado and bookkeeper.
Ray studied at Gem City College, School of Horology (the same school as his grandfather, though the name had been changed) and his talents as a jeweler, certified watchmaker, clockmaker, hand engraver and in jewelry repair are showcased at the jewelry store.
Family is what sets Rost apart from other jewelers and being a part of the start of generations of new families is what they are most proud of.
"We specialize in custom creating pieces that mark special events in a person's life," Melissa said. "One of our favorite things is seeing the heirloom pieces from those earlier days come back in to be repaired, reset, remade or just shown off. Using inherited pieces to remake an engagement or anniversary piece is a fabulous way to bring two lives together into one and keep the spirit of loved ones that are gone close."
Prospective bridegrooms have been coming to Rost for years to ask advice on the perfect engagement ring, as have young couples seeking advice on wedding sets.
"We have original old stock vintage wedding sets as well as new castings of antique rings that can be used to create a timeless ring for her to wear forever," Melissa said. "Modern designs and complete custom pieces from just a sketch are also available.
"No matter which jeweler you choose, be sure to choose one that helps you feel comfortable with the process, encourages you to take your time in choosing the right piece and offers you education on gem qualities to help you pick the perfect one for your budget."
Using state-of-the-art CAD technology, Rost is able to design unique pieces whether they are new jewelry, redesigns from inherited pieces or pieces in need of updating or repair. The sky is the limit! The customer can choose from a wide selection metals, settings and stones that fit within any budget. Be inspired by their in-store collection or bring in a photograph or sketch to get the piece of your dreams.
"You don't have to get hitched again to get a new ring," Melissa added. "We can update your original diamond and put it into any style mounting you want."
The Rost family promise — to always provide heirloom quality merchandise and friendly customer service — has withstood the test of time.
Stop in and visit with the family at Rost Jewelers, located at 107 W. Madison St. on Pulaski's Historic Courthouse Square, across from the Sam Davis monument. Call for a personalized appointment at 363-1241 or visit their website at rostjewelers.com.