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Shop Talk: Worthington Jewelers

Walker Evans Walker Evans Shop Talk: Worthington Jewelers
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Updated 1.21.14: In December 2013, Joe Davis sold his interest in Worthington Jewelers to Bob Capace, making Capace sole owner of the business.

Historic Downtown Worthington (located just south of the High Street and 161 intersection) is a well preserved collection of buildings that house some great local and independent businesses. You can find clothing boutiques, wine, ice cream and plenty of great places to dine. In an effort to better know the area, we’re taking the time to learn more about some of the unique businesses that line this quaint walkable strip.

This month we’re checking in with Joe Davis, co-owner Worthington Jewelers, a neighborhood anchor since 2000, to find out what drew him to opening his store in the heart of this community. Our full Q&A interview can be found below:

Q: First, can you tell us a bit about the history of the store?

A: Bob Capace and I formed the business over what began as two friends getting together for a beer to talk about how the company we were with looked like it might be closing soon and how we would structure a jewelry business if we owned it. This conversation progressed in to us taking over half the bar with notes written all over bar napkins. We called each other the next day and asked if the other one was really serious about the possibility of doing something like this. We spent the next three months slowly doing our homework and working on the structure of the business. Around that time, the location in Worthington came up as a possibility. Several conversations took place with the gentlemen that were there and eventually we came to an agreement where they could walk away from the business (it had been open for a year and didn’t quite get off the ground) and we began our business in what is now Worthington Jewelers.

Q: What is your personal background as it relates to the jewelry businesses?

A: I went to school for Architecture at the University of Cincinnati. Although I decided not to stay in Architecture, I learned about design there from an exceptional group of people. I struggled finding a career that fit my desire to work directly with people designing for them in a meaningful way, that didn’t isolate me from the people that would actually be using what I made. I became friends with a jeweler in a small town and we talked a lot about what he did and how rewarding he found it. After several conversations, he agreed to take me on as an apprentice goldsmith and I began my education in jewelry there. I continued on with advanced Gemology education through the International Gem Society and the Gemological Institute of America, and further education as a goldsmith and in jewelry manufacturing with Drouhard National Jewelers School. As I previously mentioned, I worked for another company in the Greater Columbus area, approximately 15 years ago, that is no longer in business, where I began to learn about the business side of this industry.

Q: What drew you to the location in Historic Worthington?

A: I have always loved the historic downtown district of Worthington. It is one of the few areas left that has kept the character and integrity of 100 years ago, but evolved to keep up with changing times and expectations. We recognized very early on that the intersection of Rt 161 and High Street has a lot of visibility and traffic, but lot of people still want to walk in the area. Very few areas offer lots of drive-by visibility in a walking neighborhood. In walking around the city, we talked to a lot of Worthington residents who were very passionate about the downtown, were very proud of their city, and strongly supported the local businesses that they felt appreciated where they were. Once we knew the storefront was going to be available, we never considered anyplace else.

Q: How has that area of Worthington continued to evolve?

A: Worthington has been experiencing a rebirth of sorts over the last decade. While a lot of businesses (especially retail businesses) have struggled during the recent recession, Worthington has been growing and improving. We have seen the recent revival of the Shops at Worthington Place, as well as a renewed interest in Downtown Worthington. Our city is no longer on the outskirts of development for Columbus, but still feels like a very unique community as soon as you enter the city. Attitudes toward growth and development have become more friendly to new businesses by encouraging companies that want to move in to embrace the image and “brand” of Worthington, and I see an attitude of cooperation that encourages responsible development, where 10 years ago I felt people were afraid to try to figure out what they could do here.

Q: Are most of your customers local to Worthington, or is your store more of a regional destination?

A: We certainly attract customers from a much larger area than just Worthington itself, but still want to be the “hometown jeweler” that is at our core. Because of our unique niche, it is not unusual to have people drive several hours to get to us, or to do business with clients several states away (or Canada or the U.K. in a couple of cases). We still do repairs on-site and know a lot of our faithful customers by name, including several that come in just to give their dogs a break as they walk them around the neighborhood.

Q: What are some of the specific types of products that you sell, or services that you offer?

A: We offer bridal, fashion and estate jewelry; perform jewelry repairs, change watch batteries, and provide insurance appraisals. Our specialties are bridal jewelry (engagement rings and wedding bands) and custom-designed, handcrafted jewelry. We have the largest local selection of engagement and wedding styles, with more than 1,300 designs on display in our Bridal Studio. In one form or another, we make over 75 percent of everything we sell. Because of the large number of diamonds we have to purchase every year, we have very strong relationships with several diamond brokers and have become one of the best sources in the area for diamond engagement rings and other diamond jewelry. Of the pieces we don’t make, we hand picked the designers because they offered very unique designs not found in this area and uncompromising quality. We also seek out designers who manufacture in the U.S. We also have a growing selection of estate jewelry. More and more young people are considering vintage rings for their engagement and wedding rings. We are also a licensed precious metals dealer, buying old jewelry, diamonds, gold, silver, platinum, coins and select high-end watches.

Q: Do you have any upcoming events we should know about?

A: Every week, we offer our diamond specials of the week. We scour the New York Diamond district to source the best values, which are usually priced hundreds or even thousands below New York Rappaport report (the pricing guide for the diamond industry). The gems are available for one week only; any that aren’t sold, we return to the diamond brokers, who send us another set of diamonds for the following week. The list of diamonds is updated weekly on our website. We have several estate silver baskets with refurbished jewelry as low as $5 to $10 per piece. We’re currently running a private sale – 20% off all Pandora jewelry. Our next big event will be our fall bridal show and sale, November 8 to 10, where we’ll have at least 5,000 engagement and wedding rings at special prices.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: We really specialize in helping each customer get exactly what they want. In some cases, they choose a style from a designer line or one of our estate cases. In others, we sit down and talk to them about what they want and then design and handcraft their jewelry. Our associates receive a salary rather than commission, so they’re free to work with each customer as long as needed. We also treat every customer the same, whether they stop in for a $10 watch battery or a $10,000 engagement ring. Our tagline is, “One of a kind, for a lifetime,” and we maintain our handcrafted jewelry for as long as the customer owns it.

More information can be found online at www.worthingtonjewelers.com.

Photos by Walker Evans.

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