Custom Jewelry at Custom Gems
Surround Yourself in Creative Design
By Janette Calabro
Custom Gems is a wonderful place where unique jewelry is created, where you can be the muse, the creator, or both! If the amazing selection of gems, fossils, minerals, and crystals doesn’t pull you into the store, the draw of custom-made jewelry will. In addition to designers who can create exactly the item you want, this captivating store also boasts a plethora of tools and supplies in case you want to make your own jewelry.
Owner Tim Kautsch knows a thing or two about designing jewelry. It all started when his dad took classes from Custom Gem’s previous owners. “When my dad started learning to cut and polish stones, I started doing it because I liked what he was doing,” Tim recalls. “I was still in high school when the previous owner said, ‘You need to learn how to make jewelry.’”
Tim worked part-time through high school, 29 years ago, and his jewelry turned out so well that he was hired full-time. He has worked there ever since, except that now he owns Custom Gems. He also earned a gemologist degree, a prestigious credential that requires a perfect score on the qualifying exam. “I think that is the only time I got 100 percent,” Tim jokes. “Then, I ended up buying the place on April Fool’s Day in 2009.”
That’s no joke! In fact, after 11 years, the business is thriving. This year marks Custom Gems’ 45th anniversary. Tim’s specialty is one-of-a-kind custom jewelry. “People come in and they may not see exactly what they want, though they may have a picture in mind,” he says. “First, we sketch out their vision on paper and make changes. For the casting, we draw the picture and carve it in wax. It looks just like the finished product, but it’s made from wax.” The actual piece is then fabricated from raw materials that are shaped, soldered, and polished to perfection. That is what fabrication is all about! Stones are set, and a new piece of jewelry is born.
In addition to creating custom pieces, Tim and his team repair almost everything, finding it hard to say no to a customer request. They can repair your heirloom pieces with care, including prong and mount repairs, pearl stringing, stone setting, and even laser welding. They also fix items like lamps and other things you might not think to take to shop called Custom Gems.
They love to showcase their flexibility and creativity with custom creation. “Most of our business is making custom jewelry that people really like, and that can be all over the board,” Tim shares. “We don’t make mainstream types of things. People might like a piece because it means something to them. It could be a rock that someone found—we can polish it and make it into jewelry for wear.” As far as popularity goes, there’s no particular gem that outweighs the rest, though Tim notes that he makes a lot of diamond wedding rings.
One great thing about custom jewelry is the opportunity to turn a piece of jewelry you already own into something else you’d rather wear. This can be an issue of sentiment but also of economy. “We can re-use a customer’s gold or gemstones, which is the most economical way because you don’t have to buy the gold,” Tim points out. “It’s also the most sentimental way to create jewelry because it could have been a family heirloom, like a great-grandma’s wedding ring.”
Along the store walls are jars with over 200 varieties of tumbled stones—small pieces of rocks and minerals. Remember the infamous Crystal Cathedral in California? Since February 2012, the building and its adjacent campus has been owned by the Roman Catholic diocese for use as the diocese’s new cathedral. The building, especially the interior, was renovated to accommodate the Roman Catholic liturgy. Tim says, “Brother William contacted Custom Gems to find the stones and crystals to make bezels that would be attached to the crucifix, reliquary, candleholders and crown of thorns above Jesus’s head. We worked with another company in Omaha that made the physical structures, and the stones were attached. The stones and crystals were carnelian, fluorite, citrine, tiger eye, calcite, red jasper, lapis, clear quartz, and onyx. All of the bezels we made were made from sterling silver. The project turned out beautifully, and we are very proud to be part of it.”
The treasures found at Custom Gems, including a matching set of 8-foot-tall amethyst geodes, will fascinate kids and adults alike. “A lot of kids come in when they’re little, and then they get older and bring their own kids in,” Tim shares. “I hope that the kids stay interested and educated about the rocks and minerals. I love that part of it!”
Custom Gems is located at 8487 Frederick Street, in Omaha. To learn more about the products and services they offer, including curbside drop-off and pick-up, please call 402-397-9606 or visit customgemsomaha.com.
L-R: Kevin Kautsch,
Tim Kautsch, owner,
Heather Steele, Dustin Clayton