One of Us: John Rutkowski


John Rutkowski is the manager of the Ponte Vedra Beach Underwood Jewelers location. Rutkowski joined the Underwood team and moved to Ponte Vedra in 2007 after a nine-hour interview.“Underwoods knew of me and they asked me to fly down. We had a very long interview,” Rutkowski said. “It was important to them that they hired the right person for this store.” Born in Hutson, New York, and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, after the age of 10, Rutkowski worked in upper tier restaurant management until he entered the jewelry industry 33 years ago. Rutskowski calls working for Underwood Jewelers a blessing, and attributes many of the store’s unique facets to its owners, Bromberg and Company, who purchased Underwood Jewelers in 1974. “The chance to come work for Clayton Bromberg — anyone in our industry knows, it’s a privilege and it’s a dream,” Rutkowski said. Underwood Jewelers in Ponte Vedra is an American Gem Society store and supports a variety of local charities including the charities of the PGA Tour Wives Association, The Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation, the Ponte Vedra Women’s Club, the Ponte Vedra Women’s Alliance, the Monique Burr Foundation, Take Stock in Children, the Pink Ribbon Classic and Ayla’s Acres. The store is located at 330 A1A N., Ste. 204 (904-280-1202). Visit for more.

Have you and your wife enjoyed living in Vilano Beach?

It’s just been wonderful. The quality of life has tripled. The Jacksonville area has such a great culture and feel to it. But I love Ponte Vedra and this is why: everybody’s happy. The sun shines out all the time. A lot of our people are retired and they’re happy. We are very blessed. We have the best clients in the industry. They support the charities that we support as well, which is very important to us. 

What is a typical day like for you at the store? 

I truly believe that to be a good example and a good leader, you should be one of the first one here and always leave with your people. I thank them for their hard work every day. Just because you’re in that leadership position doesn’t give you the right to leave them at work and go home early — I truly believe that. My shifts are full. 

I’m blessed in a second way too: I have a wonderful staff and they’re so committed to their clients and the company. You won’t find anybody that will leave Underwood’s, and it all starts from Clayton Bromberg and from the management he hires. 

What sets Underwood Jewelers apart?

Our personal jewelers are committed to the clients and they’re committed to the company — and that’s so special in this industry. Just to be able to work with them every day and see what they do. It is a long day but we have fun. Our clients have a good time when they’re here, and everyone here is committed to preserve that. It’s really a great place for us to come work and for people to come shop. People feel it and they have a good time. We serve beverages and we sell diamonds — what more could you ask for?

Another element is that we are a Forevermark Dealer, which is De Beer’s branded diamond. They support the Forevermark promise — one: the rarity of a Forevermark diamond; two: the beauty of the Forevermark diamond and most important, three: that they’re responsibly sourced. With those three commitments, it’s very special for us to be a Forevermark dealer. We’re the only Forevermeark Exceptional Diamond dealer in North Florida. That’s very important. It takes a lot of investment and nobody does it because of your business — you do it for your client. 

Tell me about the plans for expansion at this location.

The vacant store next door is ours now and we’ll be starting our construction in January on a Rolex boutique. That’s huge. There are not a lot of them. That will become a destination for people who will come to Ponte Vedra because of that. So not only is it great for Ponte Vedra, it’s great for the shopping center and it’s great for Jacksonville. That’s huge for us.