Todd & Company Showcases Fine Jewelry That Tells a Story

Proprietor Todd Johnson talks about his path to treasure hunting and reveals what he loves about estate jewelry.
Photography courtesy Todd & Company

The deep-set window displays at Todd & Company are a pleasure to behold. Located in the inner courtyard of The Gardens on El Paseo adjacent to the fountain, the vintage, modern and estate jewelry store boasts six linger-worthy windows showcasing a wide and ever-changing array of treasures.

Established two and half years ago, it’s the domain of Todd Johnson, an antiques dealer and trusted estate jeweler who buys, sells, and trades fine jewelry. He’s been in the business for over 30 years and holds a graduate diamond degree from the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.), the world’s leading authority on diamonds and gemstones.

It was a dream of Johnson’s to broaden his business and incorporate his appreciation for jewelry. Thus, his welcoming and well-situated store was born.

What made you decide to open your store at The Gardens on El Paseo?

I’ve owned a vacation property in Palm Springs for 10 years, and I was always coming out here on weekends from San Diego. I thought the desert would be a great place to have a business, so I moved here to open one. I probably looked at 30 commercial spaces around the valley and finally decided on this one because of its presence. I love this space.


Did you have a previous retail outlet?

I had an office in Old Town San Diego, and I used to do a lot of antique and jewelry shows in different cities throughout the U.S.


What can customers expect to find at your store?

People who wander in will discover a friendly space and easygoing staff who are eager to make customers feel at home. We try to make it a really comfortable place to shop. Although we carry some new merchandise, plus a line of rings that I design, 90 percent of the store is estate jewelry. It’s a good mix of all periods and styles — from art deco and art nouveau to 1950s and retro items. You never know what you’ll find.


Can customers only buy jewelry or can they sell items as well?

We advertise that we buy, sell, and trade, so a lot of people will bring in jewelry they don’t wear or may have inherited but don’t like. Oftentimes, they will trade it for something else they prefer, but I’ll also buy jewelry outright if somebody simply wants to sell. We do some consignment but find that most people prefer to sell their jewelry outright, or they’ll trade.


What are some of the exciting aspects of estate jewelry?

A lot of times, we get very unusual and rare items you wouldn’t find in the average jewelry store that only deals in new merchandise. Many of the pieces were created back in the day when craftmanship was a time-honored tradition, so they’re exceptionally well made.


How do you categorize and display all the jewelry you have on hand at any given time?

We have one case that is mostly antiques, meaning the items are over 100 years old. Otherwise, we don’t group styles and periods per se, although we try to have a good mix of, say, emeralds in one place and rubies in another, which helps if people are looking for a specific birthstone or something as a gift. For instance, one of our six display windows might zero in on diamonds — always authentic, never lab grown — although the jewelry featuring the diamonds and other accompanying pieces might represent many different styles and periods.


Do you provide any special services?

We offer free watch battery replacements and free jewelry cleaning. We can also do repairs. People really seem to appreciate these services. We also deal with estate items such as antique furniture, silver, and glass in the event people who are selling jewelry have other wares they would like us to consider. It isn’t the focus of the Todd & Company store in The Gardens on El Paseo, but it is something I can assist them with due to my past experience.


Are you seeing any jewelry trends?

Right now, it’s stackable jewelry. People like to wear three or four rings on one finger. They like to stack their necklaces, meaning they’ll wear layers of them. The younger crowd in particular is fond of stacking lots of smaller chains.


Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Unfortunately, there are some people in the estate sales industry who develop a bit of an attitude. At Todd & Company, however, we don’t believe in “stuffy.” We believe in providing a memorable customer experience — and that’s exactly what you’ll have!