Richard Luna was taken aback by the question: How many engagement or wedding rings have you sold to UC Davis students over the past 48 years?
“Oh my goodness, I never thought about that,” he said. “It’s thousands, thousands. I still have people come in and tell me they bought their ring here 45 years ago. Sometimes they’ll come in with something special, and I’ll say, did I do that?”
Luna’s sales of jewelry and an extensive collection of Native American items will come to a close at the end of this month as de Luna Jewelers at 521 Second St., in Davis shuts its doors, ending a 48-year run.
A going-out-of-business sale began Nov. 19 and is ongoing. Shop owner Luna said the upcoming closure was prompted, in part, by his landlord’s discussed plans for extensive development of the shop site. “I just didn’t think I’d fit in,” Luna said.
Besides, Luna said, he wants to travel and enjoy some quality time with his wife at a home they have in New Mexico. Plus, he says he’s going to teach a class on Native American art at UCD.
“So, yes, I will be around,” he said.
New Mexico holds a special place in Luna’s heart. He was born in a pueblo of the Towa tribe outside Albuquerque, where he was raised from the age of 6. He had early, extensive exposure to Native American crafts, arts and culture. Many of the items that caught his eye were custom-made by tribal craftsmen.
During his stint in the U.S. Army, Luna worked in a jewelry shop and began learning the business. His post-Army work found him working in the jewelry business in California. Most of all, though, he wanted his own store.
He opened it in Davis in 1967. He noted that it was a good location, with an educated population of students and adults, many of whom demonstrated an interest in Native American art and culture.
Luna’s shop included custom-made and fine jewelry, but he kept adding items of folk art and hand-crafted pieces from different Native American reservations, including items from the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni. He said customers liked the diverse offerings. He said the current liquidation sale has included Native American pottery, rugs and wood carvings. Many items were brought back to the shop from Luna’s travels throughout the American West and world.
Luna said his long business run in Davis has been “a great experience,” adding, “It’s kind of an unusual situation. The population changes every four years, with different clientele, the student effect. … The townspeople have been great. I think it has been a nice store for them, and I’ve enjoyed traveling throughout the world buying inventory for the store.”