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Meet Tim and Janna Jackson of Passion Fine Jewelry in Solana Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tim and Janna Jackson.

Tim and Janna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Passion came to be in 2010, however, we have both been in the jewelry industry for a combined 50+ years. Tim started in 1986 in England with Boodles, as an apprentice salesperson. Janna started in another San Diego Jewelry firm in 1996 while studying for her masters in Marine Biology, found she was a natural at helping people and began her jewelry career.

Tim emigrated to the USA after completing his GIA Graduate Gemmologist program in 1988, moved to Boston to work in a prominent estate Jewelry buying firm. In 1991 he moved back to CA, the San Francisco Bay Area to work for a small firm buying & selling jewelry, diamonds & watches. This lasted a couple of years before he started Acheyson-Smith Estate Buyers in Redwood City. This wholesale estate buying business was his first foray into self-employment, and it was a period of 6yrs of huge amounts of knowledge gained regarding antique & Period Jewelry, fine colored gems and watches.

In 2000 he then joined his former wife and friend/business partner at Jackson Square Fine Jewels, also in Redwood City, where he was responsible for most of the jewelry, gemstone & watch acquisitions for the business, while also developing great clients of devoted watch aficionados and colored gemstone jewelry.

2009 he took the year to create Independent in Time, a website dedicated to providing collectors with information, pictures and articles about the Independent watchmakers he felt compelled to support. He teamed up with an old friend and Janna to open Passion in January of 2010 when he and Janna moved down to Solana Beach. The old friend has subsequently been bought out unfortunately due to some serious medical issues in 2012, and the business has continued to grow since, serving locals with their fine jewelry needs and many watch collectors nationwide and overseas, who seek out our expertise and niche Independent Watchmakers, whose work we represent.

Janna began as sales assistant initially and quickly proved herself to be an important and skilled salesperson, helping many clients with Hearts On Fire diamonds and big brand watch collectors. So much so, that the location where Passion is now located, had a second branch of the San Diego firm opened in 1999 for her and her former husband to expand that business into North County. She excelled here, created many loyal and happy clients and in 2006 was named the top Hearts On Fire salesperson in the world, by personally selling over $2million, not to mention over $1million of IWC watches.

This great success helped propel the store and the business had plans to expand to another 4 locations in San Diego County before an upset between the two main owners caused Janna to have to leave in 2007. She then began to work for Hearts On Fire directly, helping them create a highly successful in-store diamond jewelry trunk show program.

With the economic downturn in late 2008, all the outside salespeople were laid off by HOF, so she went to work in San Francisco for the prestigious Shreve & Company, also a Hearts On Fire dealer amongst other high profile luxury brands. She worked there until the move back for her to North County with Tim in 2010.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, while having been in the business for many years, one forgets that starting a brand new business requires a huge effort of planning, time and money in order to get started.

Also, the relationships forged with suppliers are key, so that credit could be extended in order to buy initial stock! We self-financed rather than getting a small business loan, which meant the initial 2 years were personally quite tough financially. With 4 kids under 16, our time and money were in short supply. We also had to buy out our former partner, which was unplanned at the time. Fortunately, we’re able to secure a loan from a friend to help out.

With all the regular overhead of running a business, keeping the vendors happy by paying them, there wasn’t much left over for us, but we persevered with the knowledge that we were doing a good thing by providing North County with a fine Jeweler to look after their needs and wants, providing great service and helping our Independent Watchmakers have a brick & mortar presence in North America. Long hours were spent in the first four years particularly, planning, preparing and making decisions every day that affected the business.

As social media took off, we had to adapt our marketing and advertising plans, as all the old ways of doing things became obsolete in order to have new clients find us. Many hours outside of regular business hours were spent brainstorming at home to attempt to figure out what we needed to do to succeed.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Passion Fine Jewelry story. Tell us more about the business.
We love helping people find that special piece of jewelry or rare Independent watch that represents an important or emotional moment in their lives. In today’s digital inter-connectedness, we love to create that old school human personal connection with our clients, many of whom become dear friends over the years. Helping to create unique custom fine jewels for clients gets us really excited!

As our name suggests, we are passionate about the best diamonds Hearts On Fire, fine natural colored gemstones and supporting artisanal Independent Watchmakers, rather than the big marketed watch brands from Switzerland. We are keen to create lasting relationships that provide our clients with a trustworthy source for fine jewelry, repair, appraisals and Independent artisanal made watches.

We do this because we feel compelled to help folks navigate the gemstone & jewelry world we so love. We find the artisanal watchmakers we work with could use our help connecting with collectors, so we support their work by buying and promoting them over big brands. We know them all personally and feel that our support helps them continue their tough road.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
We don’t believe in luck, we believe in one’s determined intention and hard work, which provides a journey with which to help others meanwhile creating a life, living and working for ourselves in Solana Beach. That it happens to be with beautiful aesthetic items makes for a really happy experience.

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Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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