Neighbors in Business: La Jolla Fine Jewelry

Neighbors in Business: La Jolla Fine Jewelry | 111 S. Main, Chelsea, MI. 48118 | 734-475-0717

*Neighbors in Business is our way of highlighting businesses in the communities we cover, new and old. Whether they’ve just moved in or been around for a minute, these profiles will introduce you to what’s new in your community or remind you about what’s around you.

*Some answers have been edited for clarity

For this edition of Neighbors in Business we talked to Curtis Gough, owner of La Jolla Fine Jewelry in downtown Chelsea, a family owned business since 1970.

How did you come to Chelsea?

“The original store was started in Indiana. Then Dexter and now Chelsea. Back then it was Montezuma Jewelers, which it still is, my uncle runs that now, that was established in the 70s. My mom came to Dexter and coined it as La Jolla, which means ‘the jewel.’ My parents would come visit me, I lived in northern California. They would stay with me for a bit then go to La Jolla because it was beautiful there! La Jolla means the jewel and my mom loved the name. I came here one summer, just walked around Chelsea, and
met Ann Feeney, wonderful lady. When we first moved here, we shared a space with the chamber of commerce. Ann was in charge of the chamber at the time, our first position here in Chelsea was at the Sylvan building sharing one room with a divider in the middle, half was the chamber half was La Jolla, it was great. We moved up the street then were able to purchase this space about ten years ago.”

How did you get involved with your business? 

“I was one of five kids to get involved (with the family business) at the age of 8. I enjoyed cutting stones, making the jewelry, I loved it. I knew I wanted to do this by the time I was ten. Carving stones, creating stuff, back then I think I was into crosses, loved doing crosses. I went to school in Cincinnati, Ohio, a master jeweler had a class. Started school for it at 14. By the time I was 19 I moved to California. I went from working a family business to a jeweler that was family owned but had 100 stores. I learned more corporate side of things, I was a supervisor. One thing about jewelry, it has given me such a fruitful life. It teaches you about life. Responsibility, creativity, security, a lot of great things. The thing I get out of it the most is just positive
energy, everything positive. People getting married, someone’s birthday, engagement, baby being born, a lot of very positive experiences. I’ve always been fortunate to have my mother as a jeweler and learn from her, also my uncle he’s a jeweler as well.

Curtis Gough works on a piece in his downtown store in Chelsea, MI.

Favorite part about your business? 

“Finishing a piece and seeing a customer’s reaction. For example, after talking to them, them bringing me a stone that was an heirloom that belonged to their great grandmother and they want to get married. Weddings are important to me and the store, I’d say seeing a new bride or groom, their reaction to a piece is exciting.

What’s new/different about your business this year? 

“We have a new laser and are now recording a lot of our work. These lasers have technology to record. We’re trying to record our work we do and were going to display that this summer. We’ll have a screen out front where people can walk by the store and be able to see us working on our laser.
Everything here is new, we spend all year looking. My mom is out in Arizona, I went to Columbia. I travel to buy loose stones. We do that every year, buy them, bring them back, and create new pieces. When I travel I get my idea from architecture, things I see whether the lines on a building or a car who knows. New styles I’m creating now, working with new stones. It’s new every year, gotta keep it exciting.”

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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