Kevin Barger opened Keva Jewelers in 1989 in a detached garage behind his parent’s Hamilton home. The business relocated to several locations over the years since then, including a 2005 move to the Jungle Jim’s International Market retail complex along Ohio 4 in Fairfield. ERIC SCHWARTZBERG/STAFF

Fairfield jeweler celebrates 30 years in business after humble beginnings

A Fairfield jeweler who started his business in humble beginnings recently celebrated three decades of growth, with nearly half of it taking place in a high-profile location just off Ohio 4.

Keva Jewelers was established in 1989 by Kevin Barger, who said he got into the jewelry business “by accident.”

“I was an art major and I had tried different jobs and one of my uncles knew a jeweler and thought that that would be a good path for me,” Barger said. “So I met with a jeweler, and he recommended some schools, and I went to school and found that I really enjoyed doing the repair and design aspect of it.”

Wrapping up a jeweler apprenticeship under the instruction of a master jeweler, Barger launched the business in a detached garage behind his parent’s Hamilton home.

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Over the next three years, he carved out his niche in the jewelry trade market industry and, with Keva Jewelers expanding, he relocated to a small space on Rowe Court in Hamilton. While there, Barger primarily provided jewelry repair for other retail jewelers, designed custom jewelry and made jewelry repairs for his own developing client base.

His designs spurred rapid, word-of-mouth growth, leading to a second relocation to a larger space, its first retail storefront in an office building on Hicks Boulevard in Fairfield in 1992.

The 600-square-foot location gave the business the opportunity to spotlight, in greater volume, Barger’s custom-designed jewelry.

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Barger moved Keva Jewelers again in 2005 to a new 2,000-square-foot space at 5488 Dixie Highway in Fairfield inside the growing Jungle Jim’s International Market retail complex because “everybody knows where Jungle’s is,” he said.

The location gave the business a much larger showroom and the much-needed space for state-of-the-art jewelry design equipment.

Despite the high-tech setup behind Barger’s workstation, he said he remains reluctant to rely on such devices “because I was taught in the old ways” and still enjoys that aspect of his craft.

“The industry’s going to robotics, going to lasers, whatever technology they can put into the field, they’re going that direction, so it takes a lot of the hands-on out of it,” he said. “A lot of the things we do are still hand-fabricated.”

Custom made products typically involved a three week turnaround, he said.

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Barger said he is passionate about offering advanced custom-designed jewelry, a wide selection of retail jewelry and watches and jewelry and watch repair services.

“I really care about what I do and the passion comes from when we re-do or remake a ring for a customer, making them happy,” Barger said. “It’s all about customer service and doing what the customer wants instead of what’s easy for us to make.”

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