Harriette Williams Downey inherited a passion for jewelry. Her father, Henry Rattermann, owned a boutique Cincinnati jewelry store that served the carriage trade in three states. Throughout her life she collected elegant pieces which she wore to formal occasions in Cincinnati, Indian Creek Village, Florida and Linville Ridge, North Carolina, where she maintained residences.
Born in Cincinnati, she attended private school, then Erskine College in Boston. In 1950, she married James R. Williams, whose family founded the Western & Southern Life Insurance Company. Mr. Williams was a real estate developer and became owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. He developed The Coldstream Country Club in Cincinnati and was twice president of the Indian Creek Country Club in Miami.