Walking into San Jose Jewelers, customers are welcomed with a pink-flowered wall, accompanied by an assortment of engagement rings, sorority rings and college rings for over 60 schools, including Texas State.
San Jose Jewelers, located in Waco, was founded in 1985 by Joe Jimenez. Jimenez started the company with the intention to build momentous rings with his family, allowing it to become a family-run business. Jimenez spent most of his time running the shop with the help of his brother Robert Jimenez, a Texas State, then Southwest Texas State, alumnus.
“While I was going to Southwest Texas State I’d come home on weekends and holidays and basically worked for [Joe],” Robert said. “I found that I loved doing what I did.”
Robert graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts in 1985. While attending Southwest Texas State, he had the opportunity to be hands on with jewelry casting, 3D printing and more.
The opportunities Southwest Texas State provided Robert instilled him to take on the project with his brother to sell college rings. Robert eventually wanted to sell college rings for his alma mater, but he and his brother started their journey after mounting rings for students at Baylor University.
“When we started mounting the rings we thought ‘Oh my God, people love these things,’ and there wasn’t anything in the market like it,” Robert said. “After I finished college, I said ‘Let’s go down to Southwestern [University] to see what opportunities emerge.’ We got permission to use their field down there and we started producing college rings.”
In 1995, Robert took over the family business and continued to keep the family legacy. Although Joe died in 2021, Robert kept going with the help of more family members, including Jeff Jimenez, Robert and Joe’s nephew.
Jeff started working as the operations manager for San Jose Jewelers six months ago. Jeff was able to help the family business evolve through his expertise in sales and marketing, having once been a marketing and content specialist for Latemodel Restoration Supply, a company in Waco that restores car parts.
Jeff believes that his help and his family’s historical work ethic has allowed San Jose Jewelers to remain open for nearly 40 years.
“My uncles were only the second generation here in the United States,” Jeff said. “Initially [my family] came here from Mexico. My great grandfather was a farmer and worked land, so it has always been instilled in us to work hard.”
Along with keeping a good work ethic, the Jimenez family prides itself on keeping San Jose Jewelers running through the care they give to their customers. Robert believes the care for customers comes from having a deeper understanding of the significance of jewelry, especially college rings.
“My ultimate goal is to make an heirloom for our customers,” Robert said. “When people graduate, they want to enjoy their ring, they want to show their accomplishments and show their pride in the university they graduated from.”
Ana Moreno, a Texas State alumna, graduated from Texas State in 2022. Moreno chose to get a ring for San Jose Jewelers after seeing that the company offered sorority rings.
Moreno appreciated the number of customizations that were available for the ring, including the band design, colors, ring seals and more. She believes that her ring represents one of her highest achievements.
“I actually wear [the ring] on a daily basis since the moment I got it,” Moreno said. “I didn’t want a high school class ring because to me it wasn’t a big milestone, it’s kind of expected. But my undergrad ring signifies being the first one in my family to go to college and graduate.”
The Jimenez family hopes to continue to make more stories like Moreno’s and make accomplishments a representation through a fine piece of jewelry.
“The way I look at it is we’re building something that somebody put their heart into,” Robert said. “It’s not just a piece of jewelry, it’s something that tells that individual’s story.”
Haley Velasco, Life and Arts Editor