Last updated: February 16. 2013 5:39PM - 354 Views

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Elva Valentine is celebrating her 30th year in business, and some people call her shop the jewel of the Back Mountain.

The teacher-turned-entrepreneur started Valentine's Jewelry in July 1982 in just one room of what is now her current location on Tunkhannock Highway (State Route 309).

"I taught for eight years," said Valentine. "I worked in a jewelry shop in college and I just loved it."

Valentine majored in English and became a reading specialist, teaching most grades from kindergarten through pre-college students.

Longtime friend and president of the Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce Chip Morgan remembers when Valentine first started selling jewelry out of her husband's toolbox.

After she got her own selling space, Valentine was successful right from the start, Morgan said.

"It feels like she's always been here," he said.

Valentine is celebrating her anniversary by raising funds for different local organizations every month for an entire year. In July, she donated money to the Ballet Northeast, and this month she held a Chinese auction for the Back Mountain Food Pantry.

"I just love giving back to the community," she said.

Valentine said the jewelry business isn't just about fancy gems (though she does travel to Belgium twice a year to look for rare pieces). It's more about helping people celebrate and create memories.

"My son used to come in Valentine's and Elva would say, ‘How much money do you have?' and he would say ‘$10' and she would help him pick out a gift for me," said Lynn Banta, co-founder of the Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce.

Valentine also enjoys the people of the Back Mountain, from her longtime staff to customers who have grown up with her business.

"She's a staple in the Back Mountain," said Kim Morgan-Brown, a longtime customer.

Morgan believes Valentine's savvy business skills, attention to detail and love of the area have given her a leg up on the competition.

"There have been many other jewelers in the Back Mountain, and Elva's still here," he said.

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