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@Work: Sonya Ltd.

Oct. 14, 2004 – Sonya Hough, the owner of Sonya Ltd., 1 Company St., Christiansted, is the creator of the original St. Croix Hook bracelet, now recognized around the world. She opened her shop, the first jewelry store on St. Croix, with her husband David in downtown Christiansted 40 years ago. The store was then known as the Corner Shop.
To commemorate the store's 40th anniversary, Hough has designed a special bracelet. This design, along with "the hook," is just a few of the many designs Sonya Ltd. has to offer to the public.
Sonya, 75, still does most of the designing with help from her daughter Diane Hough. The designers boast of interesting challenges: The U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunters, based in St. Croix during hurricane season, came to them to have its logo incorporated into a bracelet design. Sonya also has unique designs for various hurricanes. A bracelet with a flag on it was made in honor of Sept. 11.
The designers also can work with customers' ideas for custom-designed bracelets and other jewelry. About 60 percent of the customers are tourists, but the other 40 percent are an "extremely faithful local clientele," according to Sherrie Garnick, who works at the shop.
The hook bracelets are available in silver with a silver wire wrap, silver with gold, and solid 14- and 18-carat gold. It is a unisex design and is available in many sizes and widths.
It is the "No. 1 baby present on St. Croix," according to some of the women who work at the store. It makes a great present because of the trade-up policy. A bracelet, or any piece of Sonja jewelry, can be upgraded for a bigger size or from silver to gold for $5 and the price difference.
There are many stories about the hook, also known as "hook lore." Hough said her design, the original (which is often copied), was started as a horseshoe for good luck. The most popular story is how lucky one is with love can be determined by which way the hook is facing. A hook facing inward toward the wearer's heart can mean he or she is "taken," while a hook facing out can mean the wearer is available.
Regardless of its "lore," this bracelet's popularity is worldwide. At the store, there is an anniversary book which has been signed by people from most of the states and other places around the world.
The jewelry is handmade on St. Croix. Hough and her daughter, Diane, are joined by a team of local artisans. Their Web site – from which customers anywhere can place orders – is www.sonyaltd.com and their toll-free phone number is (877) 766-9284.
Sonya doesn't plan on making any changes in the future, other than coming up with new designs. At 75, she did say that her future plans include living longer. "I've found my niche and I enjoy meeting customers and making jewels," she said.

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