Jewelry and watch expert David Johnson sees every facet of his luxury boutique as a reflection of both what he does and what he loves: art deco, the Jazz Age, and the edgy style of James Bond.
From the front door to the workshop in back, D.C. Johnson Ltd. is a blend of speakeasy and modern jewelry store sophistication. Before David Johnson took over the former Pilates studio in Columbus, Ohio, in the fall of 2018, the space underwent a complete renovation. For design inspiration, Johnson looked to the European jewelry stores he’d admired when he worked in Belgium and Switzerland at the beginning of his career. “There’s no signage,” Johnson says. “We don’t advertise. It’s all word of mouth. There are a lot of layers to it as you walk in through those secret doors.”
An air of glamour and mystery settles on visitors as soon as they enter the boutique through an elegant portal boasting touches of gold, marble, and glass. The moment of truth, however, comes when they encounter the blue tufted-velvet double doors, which recall the ones that graced M’s fictional office in James Bond films. The color is a throwback to Johnson’s grandfather, who used blue velvet boxes in his own jewelry business. “Those doors are in honor of my upbringing,” Johnson says. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for his hard work.”
The main client area occupies an open, airy room with wood floors and white walls that set off the mahogany display cases. The seating area beckons with four camel-colored leather chairs and a coffee table always set with fresh flowers. A bar, with its discreet jewelry cases and counter-height stools, is wrapped in crushed tangerine velvet, an homage to the Hermès orange Johnson adores. That same orange is found in a conference room, where its deep hue is reflected in the deco-inspired light fixture. An adjacent bridal area with a cream-and-white palette features custom parquet floors, glass chandeliers, and romantic armoires. Couples can select their rings as they relax on cozy banquettes that can be pulled apart to create additional seating.
The boutique showcases the work of Johnson’s favorite jewelry designers, including Melissa Kaye, Nikos Koulis, Carolina Bucci, Marla Aaron, Single Stone, Erika Winters, Amáli, Eva Fehren, Sorellina, Silvia Furmanovich, Jennie Kwon, Goshwara, Gigi Clozeau, Mizuki, and Andrea Fohrman. “Our studio is built on the personal relationships with not only our clients but also the designers we work with,” Johnson says. “Our goal is to represent the best in jewelry with a roster that gives us an assortment of designers that play well together without overlapping. We are passionate about sharing the joy of jewelry with our clients and having extensive knowledge about each of our designer’s background, inspiration, and personality.”
A grandfather’s legacy
Alongside the bridal area is a glass-and-metal wall that allows clients to peek into the jeweler’s workshop, where a master goldsmith works on repairs and bespoke commissions. In addition to white walls, navy blue cabinets, butcher-block desktops, and metal chairs, this workshop is home to the original workbench used by Johnson’s grandfather. “We wanted it to be beautiful, open, and accessible,” Johnson says of the space. “It’s a ‘pulling the curtain back on Oz’ kind of thing.”
Johnson’s office sits nearby, the windows made of reeded glass that provides light as well as privacy. His desk is topped with leather, which was pristine when he installed it but now bears wear and tear from his work. Its patina is echoed in the room’s cowhide rug and leather chairs. The office is bathed in a warm glow from the gold interior of the black light fixtures overhead.
“Everything that we do as an industry is tactile—the touch, the feel,” Johnson says. “Here, it’s about the unveiling of the layers. Everyone’s experience with the space is unique.”
(Portrait and interior photos by Reagan Taylor Photography)