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Romancing the Stones

Image courtesy of Van Atkins
Image courtesy of Van Atkins
Van Atkins Jewelry store owner, Chuck Cooper, loves Oxford.
Van Atkins Jewelry store owner Chuck Cooper and his son are Ole Miss graduates, but their love of Oxford goes even deeper than their alma mater — just 30 miles from the unique New Albany family store.
Cooper began his career at Ole Miss in 1980, 20 years after the Van Atkins department store moved to New Albany in 1960 from Newport, Ark. Atkin’s father Warren bought the store.
In 1982, Van Atkins sold its first piece of jewelry and Chuck Cooper worked part-time at the store when he wasn’t pursuing his Ole Miss degree. He even began to sell jewelry to faculty, staff, and students on campus. Because of his long-time creative relationship with Oxford, Cooper says he is committed to supporting the community in any way he
“If Oxford needs a lift, we try to help,” said Cooper. “We give a pretty big percentage of our profits back to the community.”
Since graduating from Ole Miss, Cooper stays connected by providing jewelry for different Ole Miss and Oxford events. He also donates to local schools. Many of Cooper’s customers are still Ole Miss students, faculty and university staff.
“Oxford has been very good to me,” Cooper said. “We enter the Oxford area code 38655 every day at our store. We’re your typical jewelry store — except for we carry it to the next level. We carry unique pieces that your average jewelry store won’t have.”
Specializing in timeless antique jewelry, Van Atkins takes pride in their historical pieces. The variety of estate rings, necklaces, and bracelets set the store apart.
Along with the antique jewelry, the store specializes in four- to five-carat diamond engagement rings.
If you’re in the market for an antique pendent or engagement ring, you can be sure Van Atkins stocks it. The Arkansas import has blossomed into one of the most widely known jewelers in Mississippi. Voted “Best Place to Find Antique Jewelry in Mississippi” in 2008 and 2010 and “Best Antique Jeweler” by people’s choice in the Starkville Daily News, Paula Deen is among the celebrities who shop at the historical New Albany store. Van Atkins’ jewelry is often cited in southern magazines and is a favorite of 2005 Miss America winner Deidra Downs.
– Amanda Wilson is a student in the Meek School of Journalism

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