SMALLTOWN JEWELER SELLS $11,000 BRACELET TO ELVIS
A Gift for Ex-Mrs. Presley, His ‘Best Gal’A $15 magazine advertisement paid big dividends to a hard-working jeweler.
J.R. Fox was working in one of his two jewelry stores on a Sunday afternoon when a customer telephoned to inquire about a bracelet for his “best gal.”
The next day, Fox sold an $11,000 sapphire and diamond bracelet to Elvis Presley. The “best gal,” TATTLER has since reported, was none other than his ex-wife Priscilla.
Presley, who was scheduled to appear in a concert at the University of Notre Dame, had checked into the Royal Inn at South Bend that morning.
The star was leafing through a magazine in his hotel room when he saw Fox’s advertisement.
“HE TRIED TO CALL me that morning,” the 42-year-old jeweler told TATTLER. “When no one answered at the store, he called the police. John Walsh, my good friend, is a captain in the detective bureau. He was in the office catching up on some work and he gave Presley my home telephone number.”
Peggy Fox, an 18-year-old student, answered the telephone. Not realizing the caller’s identity, she told him where her father could be reached.
“When the phone rang, I thought it was a member of the family because no one else knew I was at the store,” recalled Fox.
“You can imagine my surprise when a slow, soft southern drawl greeted me.”
I hope you don’t mind my calling you on Sunday, but I would like to purchase a bracelet from you,” the caller told Fox. “It’s for my best gal.”
"OH YOU MEAN an ID bracelet?” the jeweler asked.
“Oh no,” laughed the man. “I am talking about a bracelet that would cost thousands,”
“Do you mean a bracelet with emeralds and diamonds?” persisted Fox.
The caller assured him that was what he had in mind.
“Who am I speaking to?” Fox finally asked.
“My name is Elvis Presley,” was his reply.
“I HAD NOTHING like that in stock,” Fox told TATTLER. “The first thing Monday, I got on the phone to my suppliers in Chicago and located four bracelets I thought might fit his needs.”
Fox also called Ron Harders, a Chicago freelance salesman, to pick up the bracelets and deliver them to South Bend.
By 10:15 that morning, Harders was on his way to South Bend, oblivious to the value of the merchandise he was carrying, as usual.
One bracelet, a diamond, ruby and sapphire combination, was priced $16,000. A second offering, diamonds set in platinum, was to go for $18,000. The most expensive was $21,000 and consisted of diamonds and emeralds mounted in platinum.
THE $11,000 BRACELET, which Presley selected was seven squares linked with platinum. In the center of each square was a blue oval sapphire surrounded by diamonds. The diamonds weighed a total of 12 carats.
“I called Presley’s room to tell him the bracelets were on their way,” Fox continued. “A man named ‘Joe’ answered and told me that he would select the bracelet, subject to Presley’s final approval.”
At 2:30 p.m., Harder, Fox and Capt. Walsh met ‘Joe’ outside the Royal Inn restaurant.
“We entered the restaurant and paused,” Fox recalled. “ ‘Joe’ glanced at four men at a table to our right and they nodded. Then he glanced at a table of men to our left. They nodded. Then he looked to the rear of the room. Again there were nods. Only then did we open the cases of jewelry.
Fox began his spiel on the merits of each piece, but ‘Joe’ stopped him short. “I have purchased more than one million dollars worth of jewelry for Elvis,” the man told him. “I am an expert and this is obviously good merchandise.”
AFTER DELIBERATING no more than 10 to 15 minutes, he made his decision. “It was not a matter of price,” it seemed to Fox. “He simply liked that one the best.”
The bracelet was turned over to Capt. Walsh to give to Presley. As they left the restaurant, Fox remarked that $11,000 was a lot to spend on a gift, even for a “best gal.”
“That’s how Elvis is,” Joe told him.
On Tuesday, check number 599 for $11,000 arrived at Fox’s jewelry store. It was drawn on the National Back of Commerce, Memphis, Tenn.
“I NEVER BOTHERED to ask the name of Presley’s girlfriend,” mused Fox. “For that matter, I didn’t ask what Joe’s last name was, either.
“There is one problem with this whole thing. My wife and I didn’t tell Peggy that she talked to Elvis Presley on the telephone. We figured it would shake her up too much.
“When she reads this story, she’ll want to kill us for keeping it a secret.”
Bernie Brown, National Tattler, 2 February 1975