You might say Jay Walker channeled his childhood passions into a lifelong career. As a young boy, he built a furnace in the backyard, melted Matchbox cars and bought cuttlefish bones to make molds. So, when Jay was a young man, it’s no surprise that his father suggested he pursue a career as a goldsmith. In fact, his dad encouraged him to apply for a position at the Diamond Cellar. That’s when Jay met and interviewed with Jeff Johnson, an encounter that marked the beginning of a mentoring relationship that has lasted more than 30 years.
For seven years, Jay worked at the Diamond Cellar and learned how to be a goldsmith. “I worked with Jeff (Johnson) on my left and Rich (Adams) on my right,” he said. “I had the two best goldsmiths in Ohio—maybe even the country—sitting on either side of me, teaching me, and I absorbed everything.”
Five Years in Paradise
One day Jay got an offer to run a store and be a diamond buyer for a firm in the Cayman Islands. He flew down to check it out and stayed for a week. “This is perfect,” he told his wife when he returned. “We have a house on the beach. I can travel the world, and you can sit on the beach.” For the next five years, Jay created jewelry designs for some of Grand Cayman’s wealthiest clientele. After five years in paradise, with one small child and another one on the way, Jay and his wife decided to return home to their family, friends and the change of seasons.
Back in Ohio
The same person who told Jay about the opportunity in the Cayman Islands also told him about a jewelry store that was for sale in Marysville. Jay and his wife purchased the store, calling it Walker’s Jewelers, and owned it for the next five years. They eventually sold the store, and Jay went to work selling cars for Lamborghini of Ohio. But Jay was determined to find a better way to sell cars, so he started a company called Total Loss Replacement Services, which was designed to transform the car-buying experience. But when the company came up against some stiff competition, Jay returned to his first love—designing jewelry.
“Now I’m back sitting next to the guy who taught me everything,” Jay said, admitting that he never really stopped making jewelry in his home workshop. “It’s my true love.” Today, he’s happy to be back working alongside Jeff and Rich and the others at Jeff Johnson & Co., which he says is a wonderful place to be. “It’s like working with family, and it makes me happy,” he added.
Career and Home Life
Jay’s responsibilities at Jeff Johnson & Co. include goldsmithing and design. He is currently learning to use computer-aided design (CAD) to design rings, and he enjoys creating watercolor paintings of his jewelry designs. “We sit down with the customer and do sketches of the ring and then I paint it,” he explained. “Then we have it framed, the customer gets to keep the painting, and then I do the wax and set the stone.”
In his free time, Jay likes to build MG Midget racecars and race them in what he refers to as “vintage gentlemen’s racing.” He and his wife, Kate, have three boys: Davis, 25; Logan, 21; and Eli, 17.
Jay is quick to point out that a visit to Jeff Johnson & Co. is like visiting a friend’s house. The atmosphere is laid back and relaxed with no appointment necessary. So the next time you visit the showroom, introduce yourself to Jay. He’ll be happy to talk about jewelry, Lamborghinis or life in the Cayman Islands.
Jeff Johnson & Co. is a full-service jeweler located in Upper Arlington, Ohio. We specialize in custom engagement rings, keepsakes for significant moments, and giving new life to family heirlooms. Our gemologists are trained by the Gemological Institute of America, and they work closely with each customer to ensure that we meet your vision and beyond. Stop by our showroom at 5025 Arlington Centre Blvd. (off Henderson Road), call 614-459-8890, orwww.jjandcompany.com. You can also follow us on Facebook at Jeff Johnson & Co.