When her name is Novin, diamonds are a girl’s best friend
By Shari Goldstein Stern
If something gives you and your family enough nachas to last more than a century, you may be onto something. One Dallas family has passed its nachas along through four generations — all in the jewelry business.
Lisa Novin Harris and Toby Harris, owners of Harris Jewelry Repair, discovered a niche into which their unique skills and services fit like a perfectly sized diamond ring. The couple travels around Dallas and Collin counties to provide jewelry repair to residents of almost 50 retirement and senior communities.
The Novin family’s history in the business spans from 1906, when Lisa’s great-grandfather Louis Novin opened Novin Jewelry on Elm Street, a prime location at the time for many Jewish merchants and later home to Dallas’ Jewish-owned pawnshops. Within a few years, Lisa’s Papa Lou moved the business closer to downtown. Business was good. The store expanded, moving twice in downtown, settling at Commerce Street in the 1990s.
During the Depression, Lisa’s grandfather Ralph Novin was in SMU Law School while working at the store part-time. Lisa said, “My grandfather met Roz Schall, who was in town from New York. Roz’ father had taken a bath wearing his Rolex. Roz purchased a watch which our family holds dear today. My grandfather was smitten with Roz!”
The couple married and had two children, Harold and Betsy. Ralph passed away in 2000 and the family’s matriarch, Roz, moved to a senior community known today as The Emerson.
The pivotal moment came when Lisa’s grandfather, Harold, was visiting Roz at The Emerson and found her visiting with a table of residents needing jewelry repair. Harold’s tool kit wasn’t on him, but he approached The Emerson’s management about providing a useful service for their residents on-site, to which the management team agreed. Harold returned to the senior community a few days later with tools for repairing jewelry at the residents’ convenience.
Neighboring communities including Edgemere, The Forum, CC Young and others heard about the repair service and requested that Harold provide them with the same.
By 2006, a century since Louis Novin opened the shop on Elm Street, that business community was in financial jeopardy, but the jewelry repair business was thriving. Harold and Lisa’s stepmother, Lorraine, invited Lisa and Toby to provide jewelry repair services to additional senior communities.
Toby, a San Antonio native, is the son of Charlotte and Art Harris and grandson of Beatrice and Benjamin Harris and Neffie and Dan Goldfeder. He graduated from Dallas’ W.T. White High School, along with Lisa Novin. Toby had a long career as an optician, but he always had a passion for making jewelry and working with metals. The couple’s his-hers-our family includes a son, Brandon, named after his zayda Benjamin, and a daughter, Debra.
Lisa and Toby were married at Congregation Beth Torah, where they were members. Toby grew up at Shearith Israel and Lisa at Temple Emanu-El.
“I was the director of lifestyles at The Legacy Willow Bend, and Toby and I were busy with our ‘day jobs,’” Lisa said. “We had little time for jewelry repairs. We continued to juggle all three responsibilities and moved forward providing jewelry repair services to independent living communities in Collin County, including Plano. Harold and Lorraine continued serving residents in Dallas County.”
In 2020, the world stopped due to COVID-19 and so did the jewelry repair business. Harold and Lorraine retired. In 2021, Lisa and Toby left their professions to continue growing the family jewelry repair business full-time.
Toby said, “Harris Jewelry Repairs currently services 47 independent living retirement communities and two senior centers. A few of those are The Legacy Willow Bend, The Legacy Midtown Park, The Reserve at North Dallas, Artistry at Craig’ Ranch, The Tradition on Lovers Lane, Meadowstone and the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center. By 2024, we will add three more new communities, now under construction in Collin County.”