Longtime Raleigh jeweler to close

Posted November 30, 2011

— Jolly's Jewelers, North Carolina's oldest family-owned jewelry company, plans to close by early next year.

Frank Jolly Ragsdale, the fifth generation of the Jolly family to run the 130-year-old store, said Wednesday that he is retiring. The recession and what he calls a loss of integrity in the jewelry business forced him to make the decision.

"It's an obstacle. If you're going to compete, you have to get in the ditch with everyone else, and I'm not going to do it," the 64-year-old Ragsdale said.

Jolly's Jewelers End of area for gem of store

Jolly's opened on South Wilmington Street in 1881 but spent most of its existence at Cameron Village. It moved to North Hills several years ago.

Most of Ragdale's life has been spent inside the walls of Jolly's. He said he has seen lots of smiles as people picked out engagement rings and baby gifts, watches and anniversary presents. He became emotional when thinking of the customers he won't be able to serve anymore.

"We learned to take care of people," he said. "Those people who came through the doors were supremely important. They don't have to come through the door. They pay us a compliment when they cross that threshold."

Jolly's will begin its closing sale on Thursday, he said.


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  • newtonatlaw1 Nov 30, 2011

    I recall Frank Ragsdale as a young IBMer trying to sell my first computers to him in the '80s. He was so very gracious and kind even to a sales rep. When I became a mother I returned to buy our two children their silver milk cups. Now that I am a lawyer, while I am sad to hear he is closing, I would like to say a very fond farewell to a jeweler who was certainly one of the most gentlemanly members of our Raleigh business community, and thank him for gracing my family's life all these years. Have a lovely retirement; you've earned it! Deb Newton

  • JPack Nov 30, 2011

    A sad day for the local jewelry industry. Jollys sold with compassion, concern for the customer needs and genuine integrity...a lot more than I can say for the "new game in town". They built a reputation of honesty, whereas the likely reason for the closing uses dishonesty and aggressive advertising attacking all other jewelers in town. If you want high pressure sales, you go to "brand X". If you wanted service, you went to Jollys. They will be missed.

  • PackDaddy Nov 30, 2011

    Sad day. Sold some gold to Frank on several occasions recently. Most honest man I ever dealt with. You could tell he really cared about his customers. I know everyone screams that their prices were too high. Well, that's what it takes to stay independent for 130 years. We are not better off now with big discounters... we are diminished.

  • vraptor Nov 30, 2011

    Sad to see them go. But we are a global economy and others can sell for less money.

  • charlesboyer Nov 30, 2011

    Jolly's is a Raleigh institution, and on one hand it's sad to see a touchstone of the past go by the wayside. On the other hand, it's good to see a fine man like Mr. Ragsdale moving on to a well-earned and well-deserved retirement. As a customer of his store in the past, I have nothing but best wishes for him to enjoy his leisure years.

  • zoegirl Nov 30, 2011

    When looking for engagement rings back in 1979, there was really no where else I would even consider shopping other than Jolly's. Mrs. Ragsdale, Frank's mother was just a dear woman. She brought out a bag of diamonds and she patiently showed us several, then brought her son Frank over to complete the sale. 10 years later, we added 2 more diamonds to the set that Frank suggested. Our daughter inherited my mother's diamond as her engagement ring last year and wanted it reset. That was a no brainer... we just took it to Jolly's and voila! We also made other purchases at Jolly's and just considered it to be the ultimate jewelry store. Beautiful store with quality goods,service and staff!

  • cheezchicken Nov 30, 2011

    Good for Mr. Ragsdale. Sorry to see someone go who still has standards. Best wishes!

  • xyzzy Nov 30, 2011

    Bubba, try to sell your $9500 diamond and see what you can actually get for it. No way that Bailey's would offer the appraised value to buy it, or even 10-15% less.

    Diamond appraisals merely say what similar diamonds are selling for at the other high-end retailers. They don't tell you a thing about what you can sell your diamond for.

  • mfarmer1 Nov 30, 2011

    >> "Women, especially, should be appalled at the human abuse"

    Why especially women?

    Not all diamonds are mined with slave labor

  • bubbba Nov 30, 2011

    Diamonds are not scams and guns dont kill. Its like Frank Ragsdale said, the people in the business have become less than ethical. Do your homework. I purchased a diamond at an estate sale 12 years ago for $1500, a 2 carat antique beauty. Got it appraised right after from Jollys for $6000. Last time a few years ago at Baileys appraised for $9500.