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Uniquely Utah: SLC jewelry store's photo collection displays decades of love, unexpected stories

Posted at 8:01 PM, Feb 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 01:24:22-05

SALT LAKE CITY — If a picture is worth a thousand words, a tiny jewelry store in Salt Lake City has a big story to tell.

McKay Diamonds is an old-school, mom-and-pop shop that opened in 1949.

Original owners Robert and Frances McKay loved selling wedding sets, and at some point started decorating the walls of their shop with photographs of customers.

The McKays retired in 2010 and sold the business to Joe and Sandra Andrade, who’ve continued the tradition.

Today, there are hundreds of photos.

In a corner of the shop, a trio of photos shows three generations of a single family, buying rings at different times.

“The grandpa, the father, and the daughters,” Joe Andrade said.

Based on the clothing and hairstyles in the photos at McKays Diamonds, the collection appears to have started in the 1970s. As the years go on, the smiling couples within them change with the times. Interracial couples begin to show up fairly frequently by the 1990s, and by the 2000s, there are a number of same-sex couples wearing wedding rings.

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With a keen eye, divorce can also be observed. One man appears in two photos taken years apart, with different wives. The Andrades recall meeting the man and his second wife and asking them if they’d like the older photo featuring the ex-wife removed.

“We offered to take the picture out, but they said they don’t mind,” Joe Andrade said.

But most McKay Diamond customers seem to stay married, including Barbara and Bob Seager of Cedar City who just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

“We never considered divorce as an option,” Barbara Seager told FOX 13 News.

Barbara and Bob were childhood friends, and they attended the same high school. After graduation, Bob entered the Navy and soon proposed to his sweetheart who was attending Brigham Young University in Provo.

Asked when he knew Barbara was the one he’d spend his life with: “First time I kissed her,” Bob said.

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The Seagers' photo was recently added to the wall at McKay’s, as the collection hadn’t yet started when they wed in 1956.

It’s been placed near a photo featuring another of the Andrade's favorite couples: Lek and Jason Horne, who almost called off their wedding after buying engagement rings.

Years ago, when Joe Andrade learned the wedding was on hold, he called his customer to deliver personal advice.

“That girl loves you. I see a lot of couples, but there’s something special about you guys. You'd better come talk to her,” Joe recalled.

“He’s like, ‘You are making a huge mistake, my brother,’” Jason Horne told FOX 13 News.

Horne said the unexpected call from the jeweler did make a difference, and after pondering and praying, the marriage took place.

“She’s the most beautiful woman in the world to me, and I want to make sure she’s got a beautiful ring on her finger,” Horne said.