When Steven Riley was just 6 years old, he already had an interest in jewelry. Since then, he has done everything from work in automotives to owning his own soda company. No matter what he pursued, he says, his first love always brought him back to owning his own jewelry store. Today, that dream has become a reality.
“My aunt used to take me with her when she visited her jeweler, Steve Dewitt, downtown on Third Street,” Riley said. “When she got her ring sized or cleaned, I got to go with her and sit on the bench. I was just a kid trying to pretend to be a jeweler.”
Right after high school, Riley worked at a chain jewelry store. This first experience of working in the industry was preparing him for aspects of the job that fell outside of actual jeweler job description. He can remember sweeping floors knowing one day he wanted to actually work the floor.
“A locally owned jewelry store advertised that they were hiring a sales associate, and although I didn’t get hired for that particular job, they made a position in the back of the store for me,” Riley said. “I started watching a jeweler up close as an adult.”
Riley headed to New Approach Jewelry School in Nashville where he earned his degree. According to Riley, back at the local store, the hands on work started off slow. He served as a jeweler sitting at the bench, tinkering or buffering the pieces. Today, with 10 years of experience, Riley knew it was time to go out on his own.
“I was once the shop hand, sweeping up the grunt work at minimum wage. I owned a body shop and yet my heart was really in jewelry, that’s where my interest was,” Riley said. “My heart has always been in jewelry. I decided it’s now or never.”
Riley & Co. Jewelers experienced a soft opening this month, with a grand opening coming soon. Riley says some furniture and displays are not in yet, but the main layout of the store is complete with cutting edge aspects that he is proud to share with the community.
The store offers a large viewing window and a camera feed coming off the laser so that customers get to see their piece as it is being worked on. Another unique component of his store includes a private consultation room for clients to discuss their specific vision confidentially.
“We call it a diamond room where customers have a more private one and one consultation about what they are looking for,” he said. “Our store is set up differently than a traditional jewelry store.”
Riley believes that picking a piece of jewelry is a special event, something he describes as different than a traditional gift. He says part of his job is to personalize each experience to the client’s needs.
“It’s a full experience here. It’s not just about coming in to buy a piece of jewelry and have it underneath a tree,” Riley said.
Being a jeweler gives Riley the freedom to explore his passion and creativity. According to him, being able to see something go from something that isn’t particularly attractive to something magnificent is rewarding.
“There’s beauty in the ugly. Raw gold is ugly. Raw diamonds are ugly. You can take something that is ugly and turn it into something that is significant,” he said.
What motivates Riley to grow and succeed is his family, his wife and his kids. After serving the community for over 10 years, he considers himself ready to help customers meet any jewelry need.
Riley & Co Jewelers is located in Villa Pointe near Kohl’s and Limestone Bank. For more information visit their website.