Kevin Johnston has a passion for many things in life. From his work to his wife to his hobby, Johnston cares deeply about all he commits himself to.

For nearly 44 years, Johnston has helped many individuals celebrate Valentine’s Day, weddings, anniversaries and milestone events in a person’s life through his work as a jeweler at Bichsel Jewelry.

As a young man, Johnston never dreamed of the career he would have.

“I was going to SFCC (State Fair Community College) not real sure of what I wanted to do,” Johnston said. “I was talking to Mr. (Jim) Callis at church one Sunday and he asked me how school was going and I was telling him about it and mentioned I didn’t have any classes on Tuesday and Thursday and was bored.”

Callis offered Johnston a job working at C.W. Flowers and eventually Bichsel Jewelry.

“That was October 1976. I soon realized I liked working a lot more than going to school,” Johnston explained. “They started teaching me how to work on jewelry and I thought this is something I can do the rest of my life and as long as women liked jewelry I would have a job.”

Customers from Sedalia, even across the United States and the world, have chosen Johnston to create custom pieces to celebrate the milestones in their lives.  

“The job is so diverse that I never get bored because the challenges are always changing,” Johnston explained. “One day you are making a wedding set for a client and the next you are remaking someone`s great-grandmother’s ring that is very sentimental.”

Johnston said during his tenure as a jeweler he has designed and crafted bridal sets for three generations of family members.

Johnston commented he has no idea how many pieces of jewelry he has worked on but said “I think I would be shocked.”  

There have been some standout pieces, according to Johnston. They include getting to make multiple one of a kind pieces with stones cut by Bernd Musteiner in Germany. Johnson has also worked on a Super Bowl ring and championship rings for nationally known racecar drivers.

Changes in the industry also bring satisfaction to Johnson.

“It (industry change) is the same as seeing someone you graduated from high school with every day and not realizing how much they have changed,” Johnston said. “You run into someone you have not seen since high school and you don`t recognize them.

“The styles change, the color of gold that’s popular change, the shape of stones, different colored stones get popular,” he continued. “That is why belonging to organizations like CBG (Continental Buying Group) keep us on the cutting edge of what is popular, trends that are coming out of Europe or off the coasts.”

Mark Callis, owner of Bichsel Jewelry, considers Johnston to be a large part of the store’s continued success. 

“Kevin is an incredibly talented jeweler,” Callis said. “Our clients love that he has been making and repairing jewelry at Bischel Jewelery for over 43 years. 

“A true professional, Kevin respects fine jewelry and the fact that well made and maintained jewelry will last for generations,” he continued. “He believes that quality jewelry deserves quality service and strives to deliver only the best to our customers.” 

Valentine’s is an especially busy time for Johnston. He understands firsthand the desire to have the perfect piece ready.

“I got engaged last year on Valentine's Day to my incredible wife, Joanie, so I know what it's like wanting to have something ready on time,” Johnston noted. “I literally mounted her engagement ring on the morning of Valentine’s Day.”

The couple married last March. Johnston’s wife is a full-time insurance agent. She spends the week of Valentine’s Day working for a local florist, which leaves both ready for a break.

Johnston said since the couple are so tired helping to make sure others enjoy Valentine’s Day, “we are a pizza and TV people on Valentine’s night.”

Johnston’s third passion offers peace and serenity while challenging him much like his trade.  

When not at work Johnson can be found most weekends fishing in bass tournaments.

“There is something about flying across a lake as the sun comes up and you know you have the rest of the day to fish…,” Johnson said. “I have always been very competitive and love the challenge of finding fish under changing weather conditions, on different lakes.”

Johnston fishes both buddy tournaments with partner Roger Waters and pro-am events where participants draw an amateur partner they probably never met before and may never see again.

“It is very interesting to spend nine hours in your boat with someone you don’t know but having worked with the public all these years makes it easy to talk to someone new and different from you,” Johnston explained. “You always learn something from them.”

A championship angler, Johnston has fished tournaments in at least nine states.

Johnston has no plans to slow down.

“Doing what I love to do is so rewarding working for an independent jewelry store,” Johnston said. “It never gets old having someone excited when they pick up the piece I made for them. It’s a very rewarding and satisfying career. I really do enjoy the knowledge that every person that walks in the store is allowing me the honor of working on and trusting me to take care of their most loved and cherished possessions.”

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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