My father, Jimmy Adamson, was a watchmaker who owned Jimmy Adamson’s Jewelry store. As I kid, I remember going to his shop and seeing all kinds of cool machines, fire, bits and pieces, fire, gems and did I mention fire? I used to play around with all the cool stuff and the fire (another story in itself). When I was sick of high school, I went to work for my dad.
I was 17 years old when my family decided to move back to Argentina, and I wanted to stay in the U.S. (life and friends you know). I literally had nothing but my cool off road van (it was the 70s OK?), and what I had in it. So I actually lived “in a van down by the river” at night and would drive down from the Los Angeles overview where I slept in my van to Jack La Lane’s Spa to workout, shower and get dressed to go to work as an apprentice at Jay’s Mfg Jewelers in Cucamonga, CA (yup, it’s a real place), for my $50 a week apprentice salary.
Jay Harold, who was a great jeweler and a friend of my father had agreed to give me an
apprenticeship. I wasn’t thrilled about being a polish boy and doing the menial tasks given to the low man on the totem pole. I would cut out initial charms with a hand saw all day long! Looking back, I really appreciate the lessons learned from looking over Jay’s shoulder. I even appreciate the repetitious work as it gave me the training to make anything by hand.
After five and a half years, and with the skills I learned from my father and Mr. Harold, I went out on my own as a master jeweler. After two armed robberies at my store in the Upland California area, I thought it best to move my family to a more peaceful place. We found Lynn Haven, FL and fell in love with the people and the area. It’s a good thing that I’ve always been very adaptable. I left the business (and the country), to move to Argentina for a few years to take care of my aged mother, Amanda Adamson, until her demise. When I returned, the jewelry industry was unrecognizable. What one day was the most effective means of advertising was now worthless. Techniques, communication and presentation were completely new. I quickly started finding ways to adapt to the ever-changing industry. CAD became a greater part of the business as customers want to be a more integral part of the design process now. I do more work over e-mail and texting than I ever imagined would be possible. I do work for almost 20 retail jewelry stores. I don’t even know what the people I correspond with even look like. It’s a new and adaptive world and I am constantly at CAD training seminars and technology fairs to stay current with these changes.
Life has also brought its challenges. Fifteen years ago, my son was diagnosed with bone cancer. We were told he had less than a 20% chance of life and that at the very least he would lose his leg. We traveled to the other end of the country to find the best physicians available while raising his younger brother and running a custom jewelry store. The treatments and surgeries took over a year and he has his life, his leg and all our customers got their jewelry on time! I do my best when my back is against the wall.
I have an appointment-only office and design studio. I now exclusively do work for my personal customers by appointment and customize designs for twenty Reeds Jewelers locations. I now have passed the torch of the retail store to my sons. I love having them at my side in the family business. My eldest son, Nick, is a real salesman. This kid has the gift of gab! He has gone on to become a real master in CAD design doing things that nobody imagined could be done. He now has his own successful jewelry store. The next one, Andre’, is more of a bench guy, and he is a perfectionist at finishing. His workmanship is fabulous. He too has his own successful jewelry store.
When I’m not at the bench, I like to help people study the Bible. I love to sail, snow ski, travel, and hang out with my beautiful wife, kids and my gorgeous grand-daughter. I’ve always believed in giving back, so I sponsor local charities and the arts by creating and donating fine jewelry to the Panama City Pops Association, and the Covenant Hospice Association.
I love my job, and I especially love doing bench work. Even if it’s a simple design or a complicated piece, seeing a finished piece of jewelry that I made brings me great satisfaction. I remember once at an anniversary party where the wife was presented a gift from her kids that I had designed. As she opened the gift box, she burst into uncontrollable tears. A guest at my side told me “you have the best job on Earth. You make women cry tears of joy.” What else could I ask for?
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