Old Town Jewelers is celebrating its first year of business without fanfare, but that doesn't mean it's been a bust. Steve Johnson, who opened the business with fellow jeweler Kirk Davis, said he's happy with the growth of their two-man operation.

”From January to July, my business increased 20 percent each month,” said Johnson in a telephone interview. His specialty is custom design. He makes gold and platinum jewelry with gems from scratch or uses gems from antique jewelry that people want brought back to life. Davis focuses on jewelry repair. It's a partnership that covers all the bases of jewelry business.

Jewelry sales can be spotty during tough economic times, but Johnson says that high gold prices, dedicated customers and a desire for quality work helps. “What's keeping us alive is the bench -- being able to do work,” said Johnson. “If we were just selling jewelry, we'd be sunk.”

Johnson began working as a professional jeweler in 1975. His passion for crafting jewelry began at age 10, when he learned from a neighbor how to cut stones. He got a graduate gemologist degree because he wanted to open a retail shop, and it adds a level of assurance to people buying expensive gems.

Davis learned jewelry from his father. As a youth, he knew it was his calling, and now he specializes in jewelry repairs of all kinds. A lot of Davis' business comes from his reputation from years of local work.

Other than Arts Alive! showings, Old Town Jewelers does little to promote itself. They aren't planning any anniversary celebrations. They've relied on reputation and word-of-mouth. So far, it's working. The jewelry, attention to detail and friendliness speak for the business.

Old Town Jewelers is still in its beginning stages, but Johnson says it has plenty of room to grow. “When we have enough jewelry to fill our cases -- in three to five years -- we'll have a 50 percent larger showroom.”

Johnson likes the direct contact between jeweler and customer but acknowledges that at some point, they may have to hire a salesperson. “The ideal thing,” Johnson said, “would be to meet someone like us when we were kids: passionate.”