Engaging People: Kenneth Greene, custom jeweler, is just playing

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Kenneth Greene makes and repairs jewelry at his store, Monarch Jewelry, in Downtown Columbia. "From the moment I walk in the door, I'm at play," he said while working at his jeweler's bench Aug. 5.

COLUMBIA — An artist, a businessman, a teacher and a jeweler — Kenneth Greene plays many roles.

“I’m playing the whole time,” he said from behind the cluttered jeweler’s bench in his store, Monarch Jewelry, 1019 E. Walnut St.


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He’s been making jewelry for decades and has had a presence in town since 1979. He creates custom pieces and restores jewelry for customers.

“When I really get going creatively is when I start making things for the case. And that’s when I try to remember what really sold,” he said. Equating selling jewelry to fishing, he said his most popular pieces have been “bass lures,” shiny metal earrings that draw people in. It helps, he said, if these pieces are red or blue.

For Greene, making the decision between red and blue — or left and right, or mid-ground and foreground — is what constitutes creativity.

“Most people try to make more of it than it is. It’s just doing something,” he said. “Art is about making decisions. That’s creativity. It’s not rocket science.”

He also teaches an introductory art class and jewelry-making at William Woods University in Fulton, where he’s served as an adjunct professor since 1989. He said teaching is like walnut farming.

“Your crop doesn’t come in for about 25 years, but you’ve got to have the patience and the faith that it’s going to happen,” he said. “Here I am, practicing stuff I was taught 20 years ago.”


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