Todd & Company

5 Pearls of Wisdom for Jewelry Shopping

Todd & Company
Close-up of Cartier pearls

For starters, go see and feel the gems in person, says the owner of El Paseo newcomer Todd & Company.

By Lisa Marie Hart
Photography by Neil Husvar

You can find almost anything online. But that doesn’t mean you should buy it. When it comes to jewelry, nothing compares to a safe, satisfying in-person purchase. Be it a delicate diamond bracelet or a rare double-strand vintage Cartier necklace, the ideal buying experience includes trying on the dazzling object of your affection.

“What I like about having a store is that people can touch and feel each piece — and they're not disappointed when they get it home,” says Todd Johnson, owner of the new Todd & Company jewelry store on El Paseo. Johnson, who holds a Graduate Diamond degree from the Gemological Institute of America, has been an antiques dealer in San Diego for more than 30 years. After enjoying his weekend place in the desert for a decade, his attachment to the area and the community guided his decision to relocate his business.

Inside the glass cases at Todd & Company, modern confections sparkle alongside adornments from decades and even centuries past.

In selecting new and estate jewelry for his store, Johnson favors pieces that stand out from the crowd. “I like to see a certain pizazz and interest,” he says. “I don’t really go for anything ordinary.” Here, Johnson distills five pearls of wisdom for collecting unforgettable jewelry from any era.

Todd & Company
A rare 18K yellow gold Fope double bracelet from Italy glints with diamonds and sapphires.

1) Nuances require hands-on consideration. Condition or comfort issues can be difficult to discern through photos alone. The weight, feel, and fit of a piece, and how the cut of the stone(s) catches the light (or doesn’t), will determine the joy you derive and how often you wear it. At its worst, online shopping can be deceiving. At best, images tell only part of the story.

2) You can resize or modify most jewelry without losing its integrity. “We’re always very careful to preserve identifying marks or important details,” emphasizes Johnson, who specializes in repairs and resizing. A new designer piece or a sentimental heirloom can be custom-fit to you. Johnson’s experience in jewelry and antiquities translates to knowledge of the range of materials used over the past several centuries and how to work with all of them.

Todd & Company
The fine art — and the fun part — of wearing jewelry lies in mingling modern designs with antique showpieces.
3) You can mix eras, and probably should. Todd & Company sources from a wide range of periods and styles. Even 1920s art deco, Victorian, and Georgian pieces can look classic, timeless, or modern depending on how you style them. Unless you’re headed to a theme party, take pleasure in mixing vintage or antique with modern pieces.
Todd & Company
Perfect for the 1970s resurgence, these rare pearl pieces by Cartier feature a detachable clasp set in onyx, 18K gold, and diamonds that also can be worn as a pendant or a brooch.
4) Follow your heart’s desire. In a reputable jewelry shop that includes estate finds, expect to discover unusual pieces. A number of them are one-of-a-kind and crafted by hand; others seem to have come straight from a museum of couture. Anyone with a heart for antiques already knows: pounce when you see it or risk never seeing it again. Johnson isn’t one to pressure, but he doesn’t need to. Beauty is a powerful motivator. And if you love it, someone else will, too. (In the case of estate jewelry, someone else already has.)
Todd & Company
The tassel trend shows its early beginnings in these Victorian necklaces from the mid- to late-1800s.
5) Browsing is encouraged. You can learn a great deal simply by peering in the cases and asking questions. (The United States and Europe employ different karat marks for gold, for example.) Some hold a fascinating story. “We carry a good mix in all price ranges,” Johnson says. “I've developed a business model of being able to appeal to anyone who loves jewelry.” From antique necklaces to a 1950s fraternal Freemasons pin, an ever-changing inventory complements the new collections.
Todd & Company
This one-of-a-kind Todd & Company ring sets hearts racing with a 29.89ct heart-shaped Ametrine stone set in solid 14K yellow gold.

One more thing to ask about at Todd & Company is Johnson’s own line. Each ring is individually numbered; only one is made of each design. Glamorously large stones noted for their healing qualities sit atop a square shank in these modern statement rings with an edge.