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Going strong at 90

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When asked why Butterfield Jewelers, Albuquerque’s longtime independent fine jewelry store, has been able to stay in business for more than seven decades at a time of never-ending retail turnover, owner Bernie Butterfield says, “It’s because we’re first and foremost a family business, and everyone in the family is so passionate about what they do.

“There’s always a Butterfield at Butterfield Jewelers,” he said.

The enterprise over the years has evolved into a full-service shop at 2411 San Pedro NE, where the staff of 14 offers watch and jewelry repair, a bridal department, fashion jewelry, custom design, remounts and several watch lines.

The family has been in the jewelry trade for 90 years total — 73 years of that time in the Duke City. Bernie Butterfield is the same age as the family’s business: he turns 90 on Aug. 23. Private and in-store anniversary celebrations will be held Aug. 24-25 marking the business milestone and honoring the father of the flock. He’s now pretty much retired but still shows up to keep a close eye on the third generation who’ve taken up the retail reins.

Anne, his wife of 68 years, “is the main boss,” he said with a grin. Even while busy raising the couple’s four children, she would still come in and do the books and occasionally hit the sales floor to help a customer. Two of their children, Mike Butterfield and Theresa Butterfield Maxey play key roles in the company, along with son-in-law Bill Maxey. The elder Butterfields are hopeful  one of their seven grandchildren will join the business in the future, making it a four-generation affair.

The parents of Bernie, aka Ernest Bernard Butterfield Jr., established the first Albuquerque store on Central. Ernest Bernard Butterfield Sr., started making and selling jewelry in Pana, Ill., in 1928. Because of his wife’s severe asthma, the Butterfields came West, landing in Albuquerque in 1945 and opening a storefront on the block across from what is now the University of New Mexico bookstore.

The company prospered and built up goodwill by extending credit to newly engaged couples and other customers. Some of them later circled back for 25- and 50-year anniversary bands, Butterfield said.

“And now their children and grandchildren show up” for their wedding rings,” his wife said.

“Helping people celebrate the biggest moments in their lives has been an incredible experience,” he said.

With a rich history behind them, the Butterfields look forward to many more years of serving Albuquerque customers.

“I see both of us easily getting to 100,” said Bernie with a wink.

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