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A Jewel in Franklin’s Crown: The Legacy of Walton’s Jewelry

A Jewel in Franklin’s Crown: The Legacy of Walton’s Jewelry

Nestled in the heart of downtown Franklin, Tennessee, Walton’s Antique and Estate Jewelry isn’t just a store; it’s a portal to the past, brimming with history and the anticipation of new memories waiting to be made. For generations, Walton’s has been a cherished destination for those seeking unique jewelry pieces that transcend trends.

Beyond their exquisite vintage and heirloom pieces, Walton’s is rich in family heritage and strong community ties. Their story goes beyond timeless treasures, reflecting the people and values that have shaped the business over the years.

Julie Walton, co-owner and granddaughter of founder Melba Walton, embodies this spirit of tradition and connection. Here, she shares insights into her journey, the business’s core values, and its integral role in the Franklin area.

Walton's Family Through the Years

From Playroom to Passion: Julie Walton’s Journey Home

For Julie Walton, Walton’s Jewelry was always more than just a business; it was a second home where childhood memories intertwined with the values of care and customer engagement. Reflecting on her formative years, Julie notes, “Growing up in the family business, it was always more of a home to me than a business. My sister and I would often play in the offices and watch my grandmother, Melba, and my dad, Mike, interact with customers.” This familial atmosphere was pivotal in shaping her view of the business not as a mere commercial endeavor but as a place of joy and comfort.

Julie’s transition into the family business was neither planned nor forced. It emerged from her realization of her passion for the trade after feeling dissatisfied in her previous career. “It wasn’t until I was working in the wedding and event industry, and not feeling quite fulfilled in my role, that my dad gave me the opportunity to come home for a month or two one summer and ‘give the family business a try,'” she recalls. That summer was transformative, solidifying her decision to return to Franklin permanently and join Walton’s team. “I quickly learned how much I loved it, and just how lucky I was to have the opportunity to continue its legacy,” Julie recounts. This decision marked the beginning of her journey in preserving and enhancing the legacy of Walton’s Jewelry.

Melba Walton

Rooted in Tradition: The Family Behind Walton’s Jewelry

Walton’s Antique & Estate Jewelry was founded over 50 years ago by Melba Walton, a pioneering entrepreneur with a passion for antique jewelry. Initially, Melba showcased her collections on the hood of her car at local flea markets. Her determination to elevate her passion into a business led her to open Walton’s first brick-and-mortar location in 1974 at Carter’s Court, the premier shopping destination in downtown Franklin at that time. During an era when women faced significant financial barriers, her husband, Jack, co-signed the loan that enabled her to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. In 1982, Melba invested in the store’s future home at 410 Main Street in historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee, securing a permanent foundation for the business.

Melba’s youngest son, Michael, joined the venture in 1980. After obtaining his Graduate Gemology degree, Michael became the resident jewelry appraiser and jeweler, dedicating countless hours to mastering his craft. His deep knowledge and integrity in handling nearly all aspects of the day-to-day operations were instrumental in transforming Walton’s into the renowned jewelry store it is today.

As the third generation, Julie Walton has seamlessly taken the helm, infusing the business with fresh perspectives while remaining deeply rooted in the values instilled by her father and grandmother. “Their honesty, integrity, passion, and genuine care for our clients and our community was the foundation they created for Walton’s and one that we will continue to uphold for many generations to come,” she says. One of the biggest lessons Julie has learned is the importance of understanding why things have been done a certain way. “Rather than coming in as the third generation and making a ton of changes, it has been pivotal for me to understand the why before making a change,” Julie explains.

These values have not only shaped the business but have also influenced Julie’s approach to leadership and her vision for the future.” Melba and Mike have shaped not only the store into what it is today but also shaped me into the person I am today. Watching them run the business as I grew up impacted me in ways that I could not even see at the time,” she says. 

Closeup Display at Walton's Jewelers

Solid Foundations: The Timeless Craftmanship of Walton’s Jewelry

Walton’s Jewelry specializes in jewelry from the pre-1940s era, offering a broad array of services that range from repairs to custom designs. Julie explains the meticulous process of curating their collection: “Having been in business for over 50 years, we have built lasting relationships with people in the antique and estate jewelry industry. Our pieces are sourced from all over the world, often picked up during our travels.”

The authenticity and quality of each piece are guaranteed by the education each team member receives from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), ensuring they meet the high standards Walton’s is known for. “The craftsmanship, history, and quality that we seek in our inventory is of the utmost importance to us,” says Julie.

At Walton’s, every piece of jewelry is a bridge to the past, carrying its own unique story and heritage. This is highlighted not just through the preservation of traditional jewelry but also in how the team integrates antique elements into modern designs, offering custom pieces that maintain the integrity and aesthetics of the original era.

Walton's Jewelry Orchid Brooch

Treasures of Time: Cherishing Rare Finds

Discussing some of the unique pieces that have passed through their doors, Julie highlights a particularly memorable item: “We currently have a fabulous early 1800s orchid brooch that features an impressive enameling technique to give it an iridescent look, set with Old Mine cut diamonds and a gorgeous pink sapphire.” 

Other remarkable items include a Georgian rose cut diamond and enamel mourning ring from 1752, and an Art Deco Peruzzi cut diamond and sapphire bracelet from the 1920s. These pieces exemplify the type of unique and historically significant items that Walton’s offers to its discerning clientele. 

By focusing on exceptional quality and the historical significance of each item, Walton’s not only sells jewelry but also offers its clientele a tangible connection to the elegance and craft of bygone eras.

Julie Walton at Walton's Jewelers

Engagement and Vision: Walton’s Community Commitment

Walton’s Jewelry prides itself on being more than a business; it is an integral part of the Franklin community. The store supports a variety of local non-profits, demonstrating its commitment to giving back and fostering strong community ties. Among the organizations they support are Saddle Up!, which provides equine therapy for children with disabilities; Harpeth Conservancy, dedicated to preserving and protecting the local waterways; Williamson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which advocates for abused and neglected children; and Williamson County Animal Center, which cares for and finds homes for animals in need.

In addition to these efforts, Walton’s Jewelry is also deeply involved in the Downtown Franklin Association. Julie Walton served on the board for six years, contributing her time and expertise to support the growth and development of the downtown area. She stepped back from this role when her son was born, but the store’s involvement in community initiatives remains strong.

Julie reflects on the store’s longstanding relationship with Franklin, saying, “We are beyond grateful to have been a part of the Franklin community for over 50 years.” 

Display case at Walton's Jewelers

Envisioning Tomorrow: Celebrating Milestones and Looking Ahead

With recent celebrations for their 50th year in business and a showroom remodel that highlighted the historic features of their building, Walton’s is poised for the future. “We celebrated in April with a huge party for our family, friends, and clients at Liberty Hall in The Factory,” Julie recalls.

As Walton’s Jewelry moves forward, Julie Walton envisions a future where the values and traditions of her grandparents continue to thrive. She is committed to ensuring that the legacy of care, quality, and community involvement remains strong, enriching the lives of both current patrons and future generations. 

“We are honored to play a part in our client’s momentous life occasions, many of whom have been our clients for three generations, starting with the first-generation shopping with my grandmother in the 1970s at her original location in Carter’s Court. We hope to continue these traditions with future generations within our Franklin community and beyond,” she says.

Julie and Mike Walton

From Past to Present: Upholding the Legacy of Walton’s Jewelry

As Walton’s Jewelry celebrates over half a century of excellence, the legacy of craftsmanship and community connection remains at the forefront of its mission. Under Julie Walton’s guidance, the store continues to offer a sanctuary where past and present meet, fostering a unique shopping experience. 

“We are thriving as a third generation because we understand the importance of staying current with the times and trends while also maintaining and honoring the traditions and ways that we have done business over the last 50 years,” says Julie.

Whether you are seeking to acquire a piece of history or create a custom design that tells your personal story, Walton’s Jewelry has something special just for you. You can visit their store on Main Street in historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee, or explore their carefully curated collection online. Step into a world where every piece of jewelry holds a story, and perhaps, find something timeless to add to your own legacy.