By Steve Sears
It was 1979, and John Mazzo, owner of Mazzo Jewelers (384 Totowa Road, Totowa, 973-790-7400, www.mazzojewelers.com) was in Auto Shop class in Passaic Valley High School in Little Falls, welding together the pieces of a car.
“I was kind of doing that (welding) in high school,” he says, “when I was running the shops, and the auto teacher was the one who actually said, ‘Hey, if they let you get on the half day program, you can go to this jewelry store; they actually need a welder.’ I like working with my hands so that basically kept me going with the business. If you gave me something to take apart, I can put it back together without the book. Basically, my whole family, all the guys, that’s the way we are.”
Mazzo calls it “engineering out” everything he does, a lot of it beautifully displayed in his store. “When I’m making something, setting something, it’s all about angles and making things straight, whatever you’re setting, so you’re always looking for a way to do something better.”
Mazzo first worked out of the basement of Barton Jewelers in Little Falls. “He was a really honest guy and taught me all the values I still stand by today,” says Mazzo of Barton Jewelers owner, Raoul Barton. “When I went in for the job, I wasn’t prepped at all. I went I with jeans, a jacket, a giant size afro – I was pretty bad. I was in there not really knowing how to do an interview. He said he was going to call me, but I knew he wasn’t going to call me. So, I called him the next day, went and got a haircut, went in there with slacks on, and he hired me as soon as he saw me.” Barton then educated Mazzo in the art of jewelry as well as the business end, for the next six years. Johnny decided to stick with the trade, and after that, he served as the main jeweler at Kevin’s Fine Jewelry in Totowa from 1986-2005. Johnny then decided to follow his own dream. “Now it’s 39 years later,” says
Mazzo Jewelers was opened by Johnny, a Certified Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Diamond Setter, in October 2005. The location was previously home to a printer and a dance studio. “There wasn’t much here,” says Mazzo, who unveiled his new business with a $10,000 investment. He took the printer side first, and the early days were buttressed by friendships and word-of-mouth. As clientele grew, expansion was necessary in 2010 to the current 1,400 square foot size, so Mazzo and team took over the space from the departing dance studio.
No matter the size, from the beginning the same thing has gotten Johnny out of bed every day. “For me it’s dealing with my customers. Dealing with people – I love helping people.” Mazzo Jewelers has steady customers from Totowa, but also beyond its boundaries. Walk-ins are also prominent. “Customers come in and want to know what they have in a box of old jewelry…we never charge for anything like that. That’s for straight-up advice, we’re just helping our customers. All of our customers, after they come in the store for the first time, they’re friends of ours. We really get to know them.”
Mazzo Jewelers carries an extensive selection of fine gold, diamond, and gemstone jewelry, along with sterling silver and stainless steel. John also specializes in custom jewelry design. Resetting customer’s old pieces into something new and improved is one of his specialties.
Mazzo believes his customers will, in addition to the friendliness and knowledge of his staff, leave his store respecting the honesty of their hosts. “They (customers) know they’re going to get a straight answer, no matter what. As far as getting a great price and quality, I’ll stand behind it for life. It’s something that’s guaranteed for life. That makes a big difference. So, once people see that, that’s what brings them in, that’s what brings in the rest of their family.”
Mazzo Jewelers supports the local community in any way he can ways. “We do a lot of donations in the area.” Included in the list are the local first-responders such as police and fire departments, local sports teams, and local churches.
However, perhaps the biggest things Mazzo Jewelers delivers to the community is knowledge and courtesy. John Mazzo has been the on-site jeweler since day one, runs the store, and is proud of his team. Nicole Russomanno, also with Mazzo Jewelers since 2005, is lead sales representative and buyer. A recipient of a GIA Diamond Essentials Certificate and Diamond & Diamond Grading Certificate, she also assists with Marketing and Advertising and maintains inventory and prepares jewelry appraisals. John’s sister, Deb Mazzo-O’Brien, is administrative assistant and bookkeeper, handles donations, marketing, and advertising. Vicky Mulroony, sales associate and administrative assistant handles all the watch repairs in and out of the store, and Debbie Deluca assists customers with repairs and purchases with her extensive knowledge of religious jewelry, and also writes the Mazzo Jewelers blog.
“We have a great team,” Mazzo affirms.
Mazzo Jewelers is open for all of your jewelry needs seven days week, Monday – Saturday 10:00am – 8:00pm, and Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm.