By Jennifer Rader, Contributing Writer and Emily Guerrero, Editor in Chief
This year marks the 25th in business for local entrepreneurs John and Jenny Caro, owners of Jewelry By Design in Woodbridge. The jewelry store, which originally opened in nearby Lorton in 1989 and has been operating in Prince William since 1997, boasts numerous industry and community awards, along with a five-star rating
It also offers a bit of star-studded history, thanks to the store’s display of jewelry that Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor wore. The pieces, purchased by the Caros during a Christie’s auction in December 2011, include a pair of diamond chandelier earrings. “We keep it in the store, so customers can have the chance to try on a very beautiful piece of history,” said Chelsea Benson, Jewelry By Design’s marketing coordinator.
Jewelry By Design has experienced consistent growth over the years and continues to build a loyal customer base, Jenny Caro said. Prince William Living sat down with her to learn more about what makes this successful business tick.
PWL: What led you to open a jewelry store?
Caro: Both John and I started making jewelry in high school, but on different coasts. I got a degree from VCU [Virginia Commonwealth University] after graduating from Robinson Secondary School [in Fairfax]. My degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts, major in jewelry. John began by selling handmade silver rings in Berkeley, Calif. He moved to Virginia to work for some local jewelry chain stores, repairing and making custom jewelry.
We met, married and [eventually] decided to open our own store. We both realized that being entrepreneurs and growing our own business was what we were meant to do. John … and I decided to open Jewelry By Design knowing next to nothing about running a business.
Most of our learning was trial by fire. What saved us is that we always knew we needed to learn so we joined trade peer groups and always went to conferences. Many times over the 24 years we have said to each other, “I am so glad we just learned that or we could have gone out of business!”
PWL: Why did you move the store to Prince William?
Caro: Our first store opened in Lorton, Va., in Gunston Plaza. A few years after [it opened], the anchor stores in the shopping center closed, which made it imperative to move our store. We found a great location on the Prince William Parkway … and we had a great opportunity to grow our business being on the parkway.
PWL: What sets your jewelry store apart?
Caro: Our goal has always been to have the skills to make a beautiful creation if what the customer wants can’t be ordered. We have a full studio, with John and three goldsmiths and a watch repair technician.
Since we have invested in the latest technology, including a laser welder and computer-aided design [CAD], we are able to design and make anything. … We are also an American Gem Society [AGS] store with the only fully certified appraisal lab in Prince William County. We have three certified gemologist appraisers on staff, which is more than any store in Northern Virginia.
Many [people] are surprised when they walk into our store for the first time. Since we are located in a strip center, they do not expect the large and beautifully decorated store with a granite walkway, designer glass chandelier, full service area with a … coffee bar and a pretty nice guest bathroom.
PWL: How do you reach new customers and keep current clients engaged?
Caro: One of our most fun marketing efforts is our “12 Days of Christmas” Facebook contest. [In 2013] we gave away over $5,000 worth of jewelry with over 2,000 “likes.” Many years we hear great comments afterward about how this jewelry gave someone a Christmas that they wouldn’t have had, or that trying to win helped several people keep their spirits up while recovering from operations.
We both have always received our inspiration from being creative. We continually try to be innovative which is why we have grown and changed our store many times over the years. We are always looking for new products.
PWL: As a business, are you involved in the community?
Caro: [We have] a long tradition of supporting local charities. There are too many to list, but our favorites are The House, Inc., and CASA CIS [Court Appointed Special Advocates Children’s Intervention Services], both charities that help children and teenagers. We also sponsor the “Living Nativity” every year, which is put on by our church, The Worship Center, at the Hylton Chapel.
PWL: Has Jewelry By Design won special recognition?
Caro: John and I had both won some awards in jewelry design before we opened Jewelry By Design. Since then we have won many more with the latest just happening. … John won third place in the American Gem Trade Association’s (AGTA)  national competition for Objects of Art. We are exhibiting his amazing pendant/sculpture in our store until it goes on exhibit [Feb. 4-9] at the AGTA show in Tucson, Ariz.
PWL: What do you most enjoy about being an entrepreneur?
Caro: We have enjoyed traveling to these jewelry shows and conferences. It has given us an excuse to visit many beautiful resorts, make many friends with other store owners and keep on top of the latest trends, especially with products. …We love having the most popular jewelry brands that our customers ask for, like Tacori, LeVian, Hearts On Fire, Pandora and now Alex and Ani. An advantage to being an independently owned small business is that we can react quickly and stock a product our customers are asking for.
PWL: What does the future hold for Jewelry By Design?
Caro: We are very excited about 2014. We will begin using a software program that John has been developing for years. We will be using it on iPads out on the sales floor and be able to immediately serve our clients, answer questions, make orders and sell without customers waiting at a register. It will be a real benefit.
To learn more about Jewelry By Design, visit www.jbd4u.com or stop by the store, located at 2932 Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge.
Manassas-based massage therapist and freelance writer Jennifer Rader can be reached at [email protected] Emily Guerrero, of Lake Ridge, is editor in chief of PWL and a communications consultant. Email her at [email protected]