Georgianna Bojtos always appreciated jewelry of the highest quality. But hand-crafted jewelry was hard to find in Cleveland in 1977 – a time when most jewelry was mass produced. When her husband needed to buy her a gift, he often purchased museum jewelry reproductions. This changed when the two made a discovery while on a trip to Chicago.

Bojtos and her husband found a jewelry store in Chicago that sold hand-crafted pieces. The couple liked the one-of-kind pieces the store offered so much that they began to wonder why a store like it didn’t exist in Cleveland. After gauging interest with some trial pieces, Bojtos opened Jewelry Art in the Pavilion Mall in Beachwood. Then the store moved to its current location at 116 N. Main St., Hudson in 1991. 

Bojtos studied art in her native country of Hungary, so she became the main jewelry designer. Bojtos’s daughter, Barbara Johnson, worked in the store during high school and college to help Bojtos with the business aspects of the store. Johnson then learned the creation process alongside her mother. 

From the beginning, the store specialized in jewelry made with high-quality craftsmanship. 

“The craftsmanship has to be the best that human hands can make,” Johnson said. 

The store produces custom jewelry, meaning customers can come into the store and request a specially made piece. Jewelry Art also sells jewelry by brands such as Pandora, Slane and Slane and Judith Ripka. Bojtos and Johnson are the main designers and have a goldsmith on staff. All other employees have studied through the Gemological Institute of America.

Each one-of-a-kind piece starts with an idea. Often, this comes from the customer. Then it is sketched and made into a wax model to be viewed in 3-D. Next, the piece is cast and the stones are set. Johnson said learning the story behind each piece is what makes her job the most fun. 

“We have the privilege of getting to know the customers and being trusted with their special moment to create something that becomes an heirloom,” she said.

Johnson keeps one heirloom close to her heart: a pendant that tells the story of a moment only a mother and daughter share. When Johnson and Bojtos opened Jewelry Art, a goldsmith gave them two pieces of pastel picture Jasper, a rare type of Jasper that contains turquoise, yellows, pinks and other colors. The Jasper came from an extinct mine, so it can no longer be found. They kept the pieces of Jasper on display for years. On Jewelry Art's 25th anniversary, Bojtos removed one of the stones. She had it set in a gold pendant with colored gemstones surrounding the Jasper and gave it to her daughter. 

“It signified the hills and valleys of being in business,” Johnson said. 

The colored gemstones represented a rainbow the two witnessed on a trip to Europe after the Beachwood store closed and before the shop in Hudson opened. After the two landed in Vienna they rented a car and started towards their destination when they encountered an image they would remember for years to come. 

“We saw the most incredible rainbow that went from one end of the earth to the other. We looked at each other and said ‘This is a sign. We are on the right track'," Johnson said.

To this day, the lone remaining piece of pastel picture Jasper is tucked away in storage. But maybe one day it will be seen again and come to represent 50 years of successful business.

Thursday, June 24, 2010