The Gift of a Lifetime

The Gift of a Lifetime

Words By Ambar Ramirez


There are only 100 of its kind. And only 12 remain in operation, including one in downtown Jacksonville. 


The 15-foot-tall, cast-iron street clock built by Seth Thomas Clock Company originally stood on West Bay Street where it marked the new location of one of the city’s earliest jewelry stores. (The store’s original location, two blocks away, was destroyed in The Great Fire of 1901.) Over the years, it was moved a couple of times around Downtown before finding its forever home in front of Jacobs Jewelers, as it became known, on the corner of North Laura and Adams streets. 


In the 1970s the historical clock was donated to the City of Jacksonville by the owners of Jacobs Jewelers themselves, Roy and Delorise Thomas.


The two met through mutual friends 63 years ago and have been together ever since. The business itself was established in 1890 and stood there long before the two began working there in 1968. And now, after 54 years of working together, the Thomas family is saying goodbye to Jacob Jewelers, though, not without gifting their loyal customers, turned family, with a huge sale. 


“We’ll miss the customers really. We’re having heartburn over that,” Roy said. “They’re the most important part of the business.” Delorise added, “We’re in the third generation, so a lot of the customers now are third-time shoppers, their grandparents shopped here, their parents shopped here and now they’re shopping with us. So the ties to the customer have been very special, and I don’t think that’ll ever go away. We’ll cherish those memories forever.”


Roy and Delorise admit it is sad to close their doors, but their retirement is a celebration of all the years they have run a successful business with decades of happy customers. And those cherished memories will continue to live on through the unique pieces they have sold. 


“You’re remembering happy occasions, and you’re making this occasion more and more special each year,” Delorise said. “And as you grow with your customers, when they buy an engagement ring and then we go to the wedding and then they have children, and we watched the children grow. It just becomes a very big family, and our family has extended a long way since we came here in 1968.” 


Through the connections they have built over the years, the impact that the business and the Thomas family has left will live forever. For Roy and Delorise it is all about the quality they have established with not only the exquisite jewelry and watches they sell, but the quality of the relationships they have built with their customers. 


“It’s been important to us that when someone says, I bought my ring at Jacobs, you don’t have to question the quality,” Delorise said. “Because Jacobs itself says quality.” 

The pieces and jewels that Jacobs Jewelers sell are all about quality and longevity. This is especially true for the two-ton timepiece they donated to the city which has outlasted several owners, survived multiple moves, and endured a number of restorations, the most significant after it was slammed into by a city bus.


For many, the historical clock is a symbol of Jacksonville’s own history, and how no matter what disasters are thrown at the city, it will continue to rise from the ashes. For Roy and Delorise, the clock, in a way, symbolizes their business too.


“I think the clock just is a symbol that time marches on. So being a part of that march has been important to us because time… just kind of keeps moving on,” Delorise said. “What we do with that time is up to us, and I think when you see the clock, you’re reminded of the fact that time is moving on very quickly. So enjoy your days and enjoy your time.”


With the tagline “Meet me under the clock,” Jacksonville’s symbolic keeper of time has been a destination for generations to convene. For as long as the city of Jacksonville stands, the clock will be there. Along with the clock’s “Jacobs Jewelers” signage, it will be a reminder for years to come of the business that once stood there and the all the people who made the business one of the most treasured in town, and truly making it a gift that will continue to give. 




About Ambar Ramirez

Flipping through magazines for as long as she can remember, Ambar Ramirez has always known she wanted to be a journalist. Fast forward, Ambar is now a multimedia journalist and creative for Folio Weekly. As a recent graduate from the University of North Florida, she has written stories for the university’s newspaper as well as for personal blogs. Though mainly a writer, Ambar also designs and dabbles in photography. If not working on the latest story or design project, she is usually cozied up in bed with a good book or at a thrift store buying more clothes she doesn’t need.