When childhood friends Nick Adamson and Joshua Griffin decided to open a jewelry business together, they wanted to explore the newest technology in product design, manufacturing and presentation as well as store design and marketing tools. These Panama City, FL based business owners wanted to do business “a new way.” Both credit the Atlanta Jewelry Show with helping them get it all going when they started out.
Nick Adamson grew up in a jewelry family and is a third generation jeweler. Nick’s grandfather was a watch maker and a jeweler in Los Angeles. His father followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and became a bench jeweler, eventually opening a retail business. Nick grew up in the store and was helping his father manage the business by his early twenties. After a couple of years the family run business did not have the appeal to Nick to hold him and he got a job as a foreman for an electrical company.
(l-r) Joshua Griffin and Nick Adamson, owners of
Panama City, Florida based Creative Gems Fine Jewelry and Custom Designs.
Over a backyard barbecue with childhood friend Joshua Griffin in the spring of 2006, the two young friends embarked on a plan to open a new kind of jewelry store. They did not want cases filled with merchandise in hopes that they would choose items that customers would buy, but instead wanted to offer custom design via cutting edge techniques.
August of 2006 and the partners travel to Atlanta to attend the SJTA Atlanta Jewelry Show. At the show the partners visit with many exhibitors and select a small amount of inventory. “The entire staff at the Atlanta Show worked with us to introduce us to products and providers.” With only $80,000 to open their business they had to rely on memo goods from suppliers like E B White to stock showcases.
When Creative Gems Fine Jewelry and Custom Designs opened in October of 2006, the partners occupied 1200 square feet in a three store strip center in town. The small boutique style store is two thirds retail floor space and one third back room. Stand up cubes showcase gemstones and inventory is featured in several horizontal counters.
The partners still remember their first sale, the day after they opened. A female client ordered two one carat diamonds for a pair of earrings. They made the earrings and have not slowed down in the almost three years since they opened.
One of their first investments was in Gemvision’s Matrix CAD and CAM systems which the partners say paid for itself in three months. Equipment like a laser welder has also made it into the budget. While wanting to offer cutting edge and brand new techniques, the business is old meets new with hand carved waxes and hand engraving available. One of Nick’s uncles provides the age old engraving service and another uncle, Robert Cordova, helps with micro pave’ needs. Cordova worked for Van Cleef and Arpels and did the micro pave’ on Eva Longoria’s wedding ring. Not to be left out, Nick’s father is now semi retired and works at the store on the bench.
This spring the partners added a new tool to their repertoire of virtual design capabilities, the Virtual Display Case. From Paragon Lake, VDC is a web-based, virtual marketplace for made-to-order fine jewelry. The company provides jewelry retailers the opportunity to offer their customers access to an inventory of jewelry designs and the ability to choose everything from price to stone type and style. Over one million possible combinations are offered and the collection keeps growing. The touch screen featured in the store allows the client to become the designer with guidance from the employee.
Today the store employs four saleswomen and three at the bench. The store inventory features refurbished estate items and pre-owned Rolex, Tag Heuer and Omega watches in addition to the main focus on custom design. Their website offers a virtual tour to be “a jeweler for a day” through an interactive video tour, allowing the novice to see exactly how the shop creates a custom piece of jewelry. The website also features their own Bellamore Series of unique designs unveiled each October at their anniversary party. Each of the first two collections included at least 20 one of a kind named designs complete with original sketches.
The elegant interior of Creative Gems Fine Jewelry and Custom Designs.
Realizing the need to become a part of the Panama City community, Nick and Joshua have invested in advertising and participate in local charities. The recipients of their charitable donations include a battered women’s shelter, the American Cancer Society and Florida Children’s Home Society. They advertise in Panama City Living, the area’s leading lifestyle magazine occupying the first page each month, local cable ads, radio and billboards.
Hoping to build a successful business the two partners went in together to make a living and take care of their families and hope to live by the phrase, “work to live, not live to work,” says Nick. For more information on starting and surviving a new jewelry store business contact Nick or Joshua as 850-215-7536 or visit their website at www.creativegemsinc.com.