The Village Goldsmith was voted “Best Jewelry Store in South Lake” by a poll of south Lake County residents. The results of the poll were announced at the “Best of South Lake”, an annual event sponsored by the South Lake Chamber of Commerce and held this year at Bella Collina on April 18.
This is not the first time that the Village Goldsmith has received the prestigious award. Jim Johnson, the owner of the Village Goldsmith, humbly accepted the award and thanked the community for its astounding support since June of 1994. “The respect, courtesy, honesty and precise workmanship given to our customers has been rewarded a 100 fold by our customers’ loyalty”, said the grateful and flattered jeweler.
The Village Goldsmith is celebrating its 24thanniversary this month under the same oak tree at 630 West Highway 50, Clermont. I wanted to know more about Jim the Jeweler, his wife Betty and business family.
TABLET: Tell me a little about yourself.
Jim: I worked in a service station through high school. Two days after graduating high school, I went into auto mechanics school for a year and a half and worked for the American Motors Dealer (Rambler) and the same service station as well.
During my senior year of high school and thereafter, I was deeply involved in drag racing. I woke up one morning and realized this was no way to provide for a wife and family so I went to work at a bank.
Jim: After five years in the bank, I went to work at Hav A Tampa in the St. Petersburg branch. Betty was a computer operator and I worked in accounting, responsible for all personnel records, payroll, insurance, and credit union. (TABLET: An office romance)
TABLET: Any story behind why/when you decided to be a jeweler?
Jim: When I worked in the service station, I raced with a guy who was a master goldsmith. I became interested in what he did.
After several other career choices (auto mechanic, accounting, etc) my friend and mentor (Cliff), encouraged me to go back to school and learn the jewelry trade.
TABLET: Is there a school for jewelers. I thought it was a family art or apprenticeship passed down through the generations?
Jim: There are a few schools around the country but most are for the hobbyist and not for a serious career minded person. I was very fortunate to have the only serious vocational jewelry course in the Southeast right in St. Petersburg. After eighteen months of school and five years apprenticeship, here we are. A few people learn from a family member, and some try to learn it on their own. (BAD CHOICE)
TABLET: How long have you lived in Clermont
Jim: We moved here in May of 1994
TABLET: You not only sell jewelry; you repair, remount, restring pieces. I’ve been in jewelry stores where I’ve been told that my jewelry will need to be shipped out for repair or been sold a watch battery but had to install it myself. This is not the case at The Village Goldsmith.
Jim: Our team caters to those singular custom pieces while keeping pace with specialty retail items. As remounts and modifications excite and challenge the team; Jim, Jose, Matt and Torri, we also replace watch batteries, restring bead and pearls, repair major clock and watches and ensure your treasures are in good condition.
TABLET: You were voted “Best Jewelry Store in South Lake. That’s a tribute to you as well as your team. Can you tell me a little about your team?
Jim: We are fortunate to have our daughter Torri with us for the past twelve years. She is our customer care person. She greets our customers at the front desk and probably is the first person to greet you when you call. She changes watch batteries and makes watch band adjustments. Besides me, Village Goldsmith has two other master jewelers: Jose Carpio has been with us for twelve years. Jose worked in the diamond district of New York for quite a number of years before relocating to Central Florida. Mathew (Matt) Jewell comes to us from Missouri and has been with us for one year. Matt is an expert with the laser welder and diamond setter as well. Matt worked for Tiffany as a diamond setter for several years.
TABLET: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
Jim: We deem it a privilege and pleasure to be part of such a great community, and to have such overwhelming support from our South Lake and beyond customers, who we consider family.