Jeff Johnson & Co. is different than most jewelry stores for a number of reasons. Certainly not the least of them is our people. We’re talking about people like Rich Adams, master goldsmith, father, grandfather and champion of the customer relationship. Adams has been crafting jewelry most of his life, and he has no plans to stop any time soon. Here’s his story.
An Early Calling
During his junior year in high school, Adams enrolled in a jewelry class. After only a week, he remembers telling a friend that he really liked it and that it just might be what he ended up doing for a living. The class was only supposed to last for a semester, but Adams convinced the teacher to let him enroll again his senior year.
From there, everything seemed to fall into place. Adams entered and won the National Scholastic Art Contest, and the prize was a one-year college scholarship. Equipped with the scholarship, which he was awarded again during his senior year in college, Adams headed to Bowling Green State University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.
Turning a Passion into a Career
After graduation, Adams moved to Columbus, thanks to the assistance of a Christian organization that helped students transition from college to the work world. That summer he interviewed with the Diamond Cellar, which he liked because he immediately saw that they were pursuing a great deal of custom work.
In November, he received a call from Jeff Johnson at the Diamond Cellar, asking him to come on board. He accepted the offer and launched his 33-year career at the Columbus jeweler in January 1976. “I definitely learned more from Jeff Johnson and the other people at the Diamond Cellar in the first two years than I learned at Bowling Green,” Adams said.
After leaving the Diamond Cellar in 2009, Adams re-joined Jeff Johnson to pursue wholesale work before Johnson formed Jeff Johnson & Co. as a retail business in 2014. “During that time, I did not have contact with the customers, and I missed that,” Adams said. “I like being able to listen to them and figure out what they want. I like to design jewelry to their taste.”
Adams, who describes himself as sentimental, believes the true reward for his work is a satisfied customer. “Success in a design is not measured by popular trends. The ultimate measurement is customer satisfaction,” he said. “When the customer is excited about it—when they get tears in their eyes—that’s a win.”
Without a doubt, Adams admits that his favorite part of the job takes place when he creates a piece of jewelry from scratch, like redesigning family jewelry into something new for the next generation. He laughs when he tells how people at the Diamond Cellar used to tease him for being so engrossed in his work. “They used to say that if I was working on a (custom) wax, and the fire alarm went off, they’d have to come tell me because I wouldn’t notice.”
To be successful, Adams believes there must be communication between the craftsman and the customer. “I learned that the vast majority of sales people don’t understand the design process or how to engineer it so it holds up. They may or may not listen to the customer,” he explained. “Here, the craftsman talks directly to the customer, and you eliminate the communication gaps.” It’s an important—if not completely necessary—part of the jewelry design process.
This is also easier to do at Jeff Johnson & Co. because the entire atmosphere is relational. “We can have real relationships with each other because of our size,” he said. “In a bigger organization, that becomes harder to attain.” That’s a big win for the people who work at Jeff Johnson & Co., but it’s an even bigger win for their customers.
Beyond the Jewelry
When Adams isn’t making jewelry, he’s busy remodeling the house in Upper Arlington where he lives with his wife, Joyce. The couple has four grown children and four grandchildren. The fact that they all live in different states outside of Ohio means that Adams and his wife do a lot of traveling. Adams also leads a Bible Study for teen boys living in Franklinton. It’s a tradition he started while raising his own family, and he’s happy to be helping in an area where the need is so great.
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, orjjandcompany.com. You can also follow us on Facebook at Jeff Johnson & Co.