Some regret letting their first love slip away. Tuan Truong wasn’t about to let that happen.
“I would look at things and see how they are done, and when it comes to my hands and eyes, I could do it with little instruction,” Truong said. “My first love was making jewelry.”
Truong has been making and selling jewelry for more than 23 years. He offers custom design, jewelry and watch repair, appraisal and sells luxury jewelry. He opened his 280-square-foot store, Truong & Co., about three months ago at 4 De La Guerra Place, next to Paseo Nuevo Cinemas.
“I always wanted to start my own business because it’s a way to grow and be creative every day,” said Truong, who started an auto detailing business when he was 18.
“You’re not stuck in a particular way of doing things. You are always striving to do better.”
Truong and his family narrowly escaped their Vietnam homeland two weeks before the war ended in 1975, and they bounced around the United States. His mother owned a fine jewelry store in Dunwoody, Ga. where Truong apprenticed for three years.
“It came natural to me,” he said. “The first thing I made was a complicated all-diamond bangle bracelet. I learned quickly and easily.”
After earning his master’s in gemology from the Gemologist Institute of America, Truong immediately pursued a job with Bryant & Sons in downtown Santa Barbara, where he worked until leaving last year to go out on his own. Truong relies on a loyal clientele and their referrals to fuel his business.
“I get to know the customer,” he said. “I pick their brains.
“I find out what they like and don’t like, what activities they enjoy, and find a ring suitable for their lifestyle.”
Whether that’s lining the inside of a white gold ring with platinum because of a client’s allergies, offering complimentary cleaning, or meeting outside of store hours, Truong does his best to accommodate.
“I’m grateful for every customer that comes in the door,” he said. “I enjoy making people happy and being different. It’s hard to find quality service these days.”
Like many other markets, online sales is changing how jewelry merchants do business, Truong said.
“I think this is the last generation for this kind of (high-end) jewelry because a lot of consumers are more price conscious versus quality,” said Truong, who buys luxury jewelry from manufacturers at a discount.
“The Internet forces jewelers to carry lower quality products because of the price pressure.”
But that doesn’t mean Truong will let go of his first love.
“My end goal is to do what I love in Santa Barbara as long as I can,” he said.
Click here for more information about Truong & Co., or call 805.882.2552.
» What’s something people don’t know about you? “I’m very athletic. I used to surf a lot and play volleyball, but now I spend a lot of time golfing. I’ve gone through about 10 sets of clubs and 20 surfboards.”
» Who are your influences? “My grandma is a great influence on me. My stepdad recently passed and we were very close. There was someone I call Momma Phyllis who I worked with at Bryant & Sons and she was like an adopted mom. She had a heart of gold.”
» Silver or gold? “Platinum.”
» Long board or short? “Now that I’m older, long board. It’s less work and more fun.”
» Favorite stone? “Diamond.”
» Biggest carat you’ve sold? “About 10.”