All that glitters is not gold. It’s also silver, precious gems and sparkling diamonds. These are tools of the trade that local businessman Gregory Gibson works with every day. His Jewelry store on Rosewood Drive in Columbia is well-known to many people.
Originally from Greenville, Gibson has lived in Columbia since 1978.
He attended USC and graduated in 1982 with degrees in Retail Management and Marketing Management. His wife Jill is from Florence and works for the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce. The Gibson’s daughter Lindsey graduated from the University of South Carolina and will attend Belmont University's nursing program in Tennessee this fall.
Gibson Started his career at a young age. While still in high school, he began his apprenticeship at Lacher Jeweler’s in Greenville.
Working part-time, he started by learning the skill of engraving, restringing beads and doing castings. Working there for 2 years before college, Gibson opened his own store in Columbia back in 1987.
Beginning with repair work, the business expanded into retail by customer request.
When dealing with intricate and expensive jewelry, there is always a slight chance that something can go awry. But thinking back over the two decades that he has been in the business, Gibson remembers only one close call. “We were making a custom-made piece that had a one carat diamond in it that dropped on the floor. We looked and looked for days and never could find it. Then finally three days later, we found that it had bounced on the floor and stuck into the dust under the air compressor!”
The jewelry business sees interesting trends come and go. One recent fad that is on the way out, is the tooth cap, known as a “front”. These flashy accessories which slip over the front teeth, are loaded with diamonds. “The jewelry business overlaps a bit with dentistry,” said Gibson, “but we have to be very careful and I don’t like to get into that area.”
“Add-a-Beads”, a popular nation-wide fad that lasted about 10 years, was the concept of another man from South Carolina. It consisted of a small strand of three or five gold beads that could be expanded over time to create an entire necklace. “I wish I could come up with something like that,” laughed Gibson. Admittedly, most new trends and designs start out on the west coast and many of them never make it to the east. “Southern people tend to be attracted to more traditional items,” said Gibson.
Through the years, Gibson’s store has survived changes in the economy because the service sector in general is the least affected. “We built our business on service. When times are bad, people won’t buy new jewelry, but they will always fix what they have,” explained Gibson.
“We don’t do much advertising but rely on word-of-mouth. It takes a long time to build a business that way, but it brings us very loyal customers.”
When Gibson finds the time to relax, he enjoys driving to the coast. Once a year he charters a boat and does some off-shore fishing.
Gibson has also served the community on the South Columbia Development Corporation Board. ”It is a liaison between neighborhoods and city council as far as business placement. They work with neighborhood associations to help determine what the communities want and try to satisfy everyone’s interests.”
The SCDC is involved in many beneficial projects. For example, matching funds are available from state and federal grants for storefront upgrades and other projects which would improve the business community.
Gregory and his wife Jill enjoy living in Columbia and both are dedicated to making our community a better place for all of us.