Tag Archives: jewelry

The Beckmans

February 2, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sadie Beckman—at 2 years old—likes to pick up pretty rocks and cup them in her tiny hands. Then she clicks them together. These are special rocks that her grandmother, Linda Beckman, brought back from past vacations in Colorado and Washington.

Whether she’s practicing her sensory motor skills by playing with Grandma’s rocks or taking short walks with her grandpa, Dennis Beckman, Sadie’s too little to understand the favor her parents, Jennie and David Beckman, did for her.

By returning back to their hometown of Omaha after stints in Boston and Baltimore, they widened their daughter’s family circle. A supportive circle that cares for her, plays games with her, and feeds her homemade sugar cookies.

Young families are increasingly returning home to Omaha to live closer to grandparents for more quality family bonding. Jennie’s childhood friend Amy Isaacson also recently returned to the Omaha area after working as a researcher at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Isaacson says her family moved due to the rising cost of living in the Silicon Valley area and to reside closer to family. The Isaacsons have a 4-year-old daughter and 9-month-old twin girls.

“This has been absolutely the best decision for so many reasons. We have more space. We have family. People are friendly here. It’s more affordable,” Isaacson says.

Beckman, who graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says they talked about returning to Omaha after they had children. Fortunately, Beckman’s previous job as director of volunteer strategy with the non-profit Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies allowed her to work remotely, so she could take her job with her to Nebraska. She is now the director of community engagement and education for the Jewish Federation of Omaha.

After the birth of Sadie, Jennie realized how important it was to be around her family. “It was really painful to go a whole year with them not seeing her for large slots of time.”

When David’s mom, Linda, heard the news, she says she kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, is this real?”

“Many, many years before, they had wanted to move back,” Linda says. “It all depends on jobs and things. You can’t just decide to move. You have to have an income.”

“It’s fun to watch her,” Linda says of baby Sadie. “When she first walks in the house and she sees you, she just lights up, and it’s like ‘Ahh!’ She just melts your heart.”

The Beckmans also have another granddaughter, Evelyn, who lives in Iowa. “We don’t see her nearly as often, but I’ll send her little packages here and there,” says Linda.

“We just want to be there to be of any assistance that the parents need. My parents were like that. They were always there to pick up the kids after school if I couldn’t do it. They were always there, so it just comes natural,” she says.

The Beckmans take care of Sadie each Tuesday evening. “Dave and Jenny get to have a few minutes by themselves to sort of catch their breath,” Linda says. They get to do things childless people do, like go out to eat without the dining room theatrics or relax on the deck and enjoy each other’s company.”

“I think the biggest thing is just the sense of comfort and security, and feeling like we have backup. And we have backups to our backup,” Jennie says.

Jennie’s support team also includes her own parents, Linda and Harry Gates, and her two brothers.

The Gates watch Sadie each Wednesday evening, and sometimes on the weekends for an hour or so while Jennie runs errands. They like to read books to Sadie or work on puzzles with her. They have tried painting and crafting with Play-Doh—no small feat with a child that age.

Harry also likes to take Sadie on walks. “We go look at the ants, and we go look at the flowers, and we go look at the birds,” he says.

Linda Gates says she really notices how Sadie changes from week to week. “Her vocabulary has just exploded. It seems like it’s all of a sudden, but because we can see her once a week, we really can see that progression. If they were still in Baltimore, we would miss out on all of that,” she says.

Gates, who prefers the name “Gigi” over “Grandmother,” has a penchant for wearing jewelry. “Sadie’s always real fascinated with that. If I have on bracelets and necklaces, I’ll take them off and put them on her, and she puts them back on me. It’s just kind of a nice moment together,” she says.

All the grandparents are happy with the new living arrangements. “It’s great. We’re very grateful and excited that it all worked out for them,” Gates says.

This article was printed in the Winter 2016 edition of Family Guide.

 

Jewelry on Display

April 17, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Originally published in April 2015 Her Family.

Being a jewelry designer, I take a lot of pride in showing off my little gems and finding ways to “DIY” wall hangings that draw attention to them in a unique and unexpected way. Too often I’ll forget about a great bracelet or statement piece if they’re tucked away in a jewelry box, so instead why not keep them out and in our line of sight? I’m a huge fan of displaying my glistening treasures on something equally beautiful, yet functional, disguised as easily accessible wall art. This trick presents your jewelry, placing it on display for quick and easy outfit accessorizing, while also doubling as a little bit of glamour for your otherwise plain walls.

supplies

Vintage Feed Sifter

Spray Paint

Fine Sand Paper

.5” Dowel Rod

Round Head Steel Screws (2 large, 8 small)

20 Steel Washers

10 Steel Spiral Hex Nuts

Braided Picture Anchor Wire

4 Picture Hangers

Directions

1. Find a vintage feed sifter, something with chicken wire or mesh base. It can be either metal (as the one shown) or wooden. I found mine at Junkstock last June.

2. Depending on your taste, find a spray paint that’ll stop any rust from showing through. I’m a huge fan of Rust-Oleum for those on a budget, or Montana Gold Acrylic Professional Spray Paint if you’d like more color options.

3. Using fine (150-180 grit) sand paper, smooth out rough spots and remove rust and dirt from the sifter. This will help the spray paint adhere to the surface of your finished display

4. Cut your dowel rod to the width of your display. Smooth the ends with the same sand paper.

5. Lay down cardboard or a large sheet of paper in a well-ventilated area. I prefer either a garage or outside in my yard.

6. Place your prepped sifter and dowel rod down on the cardboard and spray them to the color of your choice. Allow to dry a day or two indoors.

7. After your sifter is completely dry you can start adding the screw hooks. Using the holes already in the mesh, place the screw side of the hook through a steel washer (this provides an anchor in case the mesh holes are too big), then through one of the holes, through another steel washer, and secure on the back side with a hex screw.

8. Repeat Step 7 with the two larger steel screw hooks to create bracelet/ring holders. This is where you’ll place your dowel rod.

9. Once you’ve gotten all your screw hooks into place, flip the sifter over. Wedge two picture hooks on opposite sides of the mesh. Weave the anchor wire through the hooks so that it’s tight enough to hold up the display.

10. Use the remaining picture hooks to hang your display. And there you go! It’s ready for your jewels to be hung on it like the little pieces of art they are.

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Shop Around the Corner

November 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In September, Jessica Misegadis swore that Shop Around the Corner would never relocate again. “I hated moving,” the co-owner of the secondhand shop said at the time. “I don’t want to ever do it again.” Business partner Geri Hogan tutted, “Never say never.” There’s a reason such sage advice doesn’t go out of style. This December, Misegadis and Hogan will set up shop for the third time as they move to the Kraft building on 16th and Leavenworth streets to get away from the expense of their previous Old Market location.

Patrons should be able to once again browse Shop Around the Corner’s magical shelves in time for the holidays, Misegadis says. In fact, you may find more than you bargained for: Shop Around the Corner will actually be inside a new, third storefront of The Imaginarium, owned by James Kavan. Thrift-loving explorers may run across vintage clothing, furniture, dishware, records, gilt picture frames, or even old-school arcade games.

Is there anything they don’t sell?

“I mean, we’re willing to look at anything,” says Misegadis. “There aren’t any certain items we don’t sell.” She and Hogan are the friendly faces you’ll see on any given day at the new Imaginarium, managing their Shop Around the Corner as well as the larger antiques mall surrounding their own vending.

The easy banter of the two rather stylish women is misleading—they haven’t even known each other a year. They met, in fact, while working at the original Imaginarium, an antiques shop on 13th and Howard. “We just started talking about clothes one day and saying, ‘We should open a vendor booth together,’” Misegadis recalls. “And the next thing you know we did.”

That’s apparently a side effect of mentioning an idea within earshot of Kavan. “Within a couple days, we were looking at a place with keys in our hand,” Hogan says. “I mean…we had keys!”

The original Shop Around the Corner opened in March of 2013. The 15th, to be exact. “Here, I have it written on a dollar bill, look,” Misegadis says, pulling out a framed George Washington. A lot has changed between then and now. For example, there is no more crying in the fitting room. “That first day, I cried because I was terrified,” she says. “Can we do this, what if we can’t do it?”

Just a few months later, the answer is, well, of course they can. Hogan is an experienced vintage clothing vendor, and Misegadis learned everything she knows about antiques from one of Omaha’s best-known sellers, Susan Hoffman Brink. Brink, who owned Second Chance Antiques, passed away last April. “I didn’t know anything about antiques before I met her,” Misegadis recalls. “She was a very fair person. If something was worth more than what someone was asking, she would tell them. She taught me how to check if jewelry was signed, she taught me how to check age on things…she was amazing.”

Speaking of jewelry, Hogan brags that Misegadis is the brains behind the jewelry selection of Shop Around the Corner. It’s true she has a certain flair for the shiny, decked out as she is in a Whiting & Davis mesh necklace and snake bracelet.

“Well, Geri is the one who finds the most unbelievable vintage clothing,” Misegadis counters. “I don’t even know how she finds things from the ’30s in this great condition…I mean, you just don’t see it.”

Hogan shrugs. “It just happens. I dig, like you do.”

The clothing offered by Shop Around the Corner is varied and not just vintage. Contemporary brands are sprinkled throughout, though gems such as plus-sized vintage, designer labels, and men’s and children’s fashion have their own special sections. “We’re trying to keep it organized,” Misegadis says. “We like to be able to send people to one area to find what they’re looking for.”

Of course, there are always those special little items that a shop owner might decide to put back for herself. “There was the Egyptian ring in the front case,” Misegadis says, “and I had got it from Susan. Someone was really wanting to buy it, but they put it back. So it’s at home now because I was like, I’m taking this.”

“You do get attached,” Hogan agrees. “You’re never going to see some of these things again.”

Fashion: Jewelry Break

September 3, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There’s nothing exactly wrong with indulging a taste for the finer things in life. Just be sure you’re ready to accept the consequences.

Modeled by Emily Solo of Des Moines, Hannah Blazek of Omaha, and Amber Hongsermeier of Omaha. Styled by Jared Spence. Hair & Makeup by Sirens at the Loft. Special thanks to Goldsmith Silversmith and the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County. Photographed at the Squirrel Cage Jail in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Photo 1: Regalia dyed freshwater pearl necklace, Regalia silver cuff, and Regalia smashed silver cuff from Goldsmith Silversmith, 1019 Howard St. – goldsmithsilversmith.com
Photo 2: (clockwise) Heather Kita brass circle pendant necklace, Heather Kita 14kt yellow gold disc on silver band, Regalia smashed silver cuff, Heather Kita sterling silver-faceted ring, Danielle Morgan sterling silver and black onyx necklace, Danielle Morgan sterling silver double cub necklace, and Heather Kita quartz crystal earrings from Goldsmith Silversmith, 1019 Howard St. – goldsmithsilversmith.com
Photo 3: Natalie Frigo brass cuff, Heather Kita brass and pyrite bib necklace, Heather Kita brass circle pendant necklace, and Heather Kita brass faceted ring from Goldsmith Silversmith, 1019 Howard St. – goldsmithsilversmith.com
Photo 4: Heather Kita quartz crystal earrings, Marisa Adamson quartz and sterling silver ring, and Regalia sterling silver and gold-plated bangles from Goldsmith Silversmith, 1019 Howard St. – goldsmithsilversmith.com

Photo 5: Regalia silver cuff, Regalia sterling silver and gold-plated bangles, Regalia sterling silver and gold-plated earrings, Natalie Frigo silver and crystal necklace, and Heather Kita brass-faceted triangle earrings from Goldsmith Silversmith, 1019 Howard St. – goldsmithsilversmith.com

Deb’s-tique

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Located in Clocktower Village just east of Westroads Mall, Deb’s-tique offers an array of jewelry, antiques, home accents, clothing, and gifts at price points its customers appreciate. The store also carries a line of Made in the U.S.A. food items. Owner Deb Schneider describes Deb’s-tique as “accommodating” and “a place that gives customers a warm shopping experience.” Guests are offered coffee and tea and can shop for themselves or their loved ones in a relaxing, personal atmosphere.

Schneider is no stranger to owning a business, as she and her husband also run a construction company. Her inspiration for opening her store last September came from her family life and 20+ years as a mother. “Mothers need some time to themselves—to take time and let it be about you,” she says. The boutique provides a space for women to shop for unique gifts and caters to anyone from late teens to late 70s. Deb’s-tique also sees many husbands and fathers shopping for the women in their lives.

“We wanted a broad clientele,” Schneider says. When asked why she chose the location, she says, “It is a central point for many different people…a place anyone can come to.”

Deb’s-tique
617 N. 98th St.
402-934-3770
debstique.com

Beads Bind Sibling Duo

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Small, multi-hued, and made of various materials, beads have always been a part of a whole rainbow of cultures. From their origin in North Africa to love beads notoriously worn by hippies of the ’60s to Native American tribes, people have been adorning their bodies with beads for centuries.

Omaha native Adam Michael Langdon, 33, saw a business in beads. His mother, local business owner Laurie Langdon-Gerber, has already made a huge name for herself with her own successful jewelry company, Elisa Ilana. It’s only fitting that two of her children are cruising  down the same creative path.

Along with younger sister Elisa Gerber, 32, Langdon runs Adam Michael Jewelry, as well as Designer Beads and Charms, which are both located on 120th and Blondo streets. The shops carry the popular Troll Beads, Chamilia Jewelry, and an onslaught of other big brands. Their ardent ambition is evident. They have a staff of about 10, and even as the interview is going on, Langdon’s agile hands stay busy setting up Christmas displays while Gerber diligently works on her computer. The brother-sister team works well together, although they will be the first to admit they have their days.

“We can tear each other’s heads off or be high-fiving all day,” Langdon says. “Depends on the day,” Gerber playfully adds.20121205_bs_7045 copy

While their tight, almost inexplicable bond clearly goes beyond just the DNA that ties them together, working side-by-side has been a true test…If that doesn’t tear a relationship apart, then nothing will. With the matriarch of the family also being in the bead and jewelry business, things have the potential to get heated, but the mutual respect they share for one another runs deep.

“We are kind of in competition with her because she sells Pandora [another popular brand of jewelry],” Langdon says. “We pick each other’s brain, and it’s usually over dinner. If there’s any flak to give, it’s all in good fun.”

As a family-owned operation, it’s the small things that set them apart from larger corporations. The staff is ready to help the customer every step of the way, even if it means designing the bracelet or necklace for you. The brother-sister duo is intent on keeping it that way.

Custom Gems

October 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Imagine twin waterfalls, tall and narrow, magically frozen in freefall. The tumbling cascades are the clear, deep purple of winter shadows. When brilliant sunshine splashes across the rough surface, it assumes the glitter of sparkling gems. Both images, a double waterfall of frozen water or of gemstones, are equally wondrous. In this story, the metaphor is the reality—the waterfalls of our fantasy are cataracts of amethyst crystals.

Nearly eight feet tall, the mirrored pair are the split halves of a geode that has been supersized. Since we’re already in the mood for magic, we can time-travel back 130 million years to the end of the Mesozoic Era. The earth is in upheaval. The colossal continent of Pangaea breaks apart; volcanoes explode; the ocean floor crashes. Dinosaurs are disappearing, flowers (okay, angiosperms) are appearing. Every subset has its own turmoil. Lava flows hiss and erupt in bubbles of every size, some round and others shot high. As these bubbles cool, they harden into hollow shells. Mineral-rich slip glazes their interiors…and crystallizes, forming jeweled chambers unsignaled by their mud exteriors.

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Zip! Back to Omaha at the end of 2012. Our location is Custom Gems, a shop at the back of Frederick Square Shopping Center, off 84th Street just few blocks south of West Center Road. Its exterior may be commonplace, but inside you’ll find treasures to spark anyone’s imagination: delicate, one-of-a-kind necklaces, a tray of sapphires in every possible shade of blue (and some that aren’t blue!), carvings, and fossils. Kids of all ages scoop gleaming tumbled stones—8 for a dollar!—from an always-full bin. Practitioners of holistic therapies choose gems for their healing properties; DIY’ers finger strings of  beads; and rock hounds pick up tools, magazines, and even the rough stones that eluded them in the wild. You might visit Custom Gems just to see the beautiful amethyst waterfall.

While I’ve imagined tumbling water, others experience a sense of sacred space, like the gem-encrusted walls of some medieval churches. “They’re often called ‘amethyst cathedrals,’” explains Tim Kautsch, owner of Custom Gems. The height, twinning, and deep color of this pair enhance their allure and their value.

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Nearby is another natural crystal formation, a wedge of clear quartz with a cluster of the icy crystals at its centerpoint. (The word “crystal” comes from the early Greek word for frost. Snow is another crystalline structure.) Color is determined by mineral makeup, and each mineral has its own crystal shape. The clear rods clustered at the center are long hexagons ending in pyramidal points, looking just like ice.

Quartz is the most commonly used mineral in jewelry, but all minerals are, in their rough state, just rocks. Compare that tray of sparkling sapphires to their rugged counterpart, corundum. Fine jewelry calls for precious stones that are carefully cut and polished. Tim is a gemologist certified by the Gemological Institute of America. The degree gives him an edge in gem identification and grading. He began to work here while still in high school and became owner in 2009. Soon, his brother, Kevin, joined him. “It’s a good fit,” he says. “Kevin is great at work requiring precision, such as designing and repairing fine jewelry.”

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Custom Gems offers jewelry in a range of choices—you can buy an irresistible finished piece; select a setting, then choose just the right stone; or refit a piece of your own with new stones. Some customers have jewelry with sentimental value recast into a more personalized or modern style. The brothers value the importance of getting to know their patrons, many of them repeat customers. They especially enjoy creating a unique design that best expresses the customer’s intention and the stone’s special features. Kevin showed me one of his designs, an amethyst in a sterling silver pendant that echoed and emphasized the stone’s unusual shape.

Fossils are another form of rock. In the case of ammonites, the sea creatures’ buried remains were transformed by the pressure of sand and mud. Their typical spiral shell identifies them easily, but patterns on the shell show great variety. On display is an ammonite which has been split into two perfect halves. Its creamy beige, brown, and white coloring is subtly dabbed with touches of pale melon, mauve, and green, the delicacy of its coiled chambers preserved in stone.

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Occasionally, ammonite’s external shell wall is thick enough to be removed. Coupled with the shell’s pearl-like iridescence, it offers a prized jewel, ammolite, to the designer. “It’s my favorite stone,” says Kevin. He displays several, each a different color. Vibrant red/green or blue/violet hues dominate, but all colors are possible. Red and green flicker across one piece, the surface crazed with a pattern called “dragon skin.”

Besides jewelry and gems, the shop has accoutrements for home and office—tiny carved animals (the perfect pet, in my opinion), spheres, elegant serving plates of fossilized limestone, and Chinese jade work. For impact, Shona sculptures from Zimbabwe combine primitive and modernist style.

And for fun, there’s the rock bin. On a fall day, 9-year-old Natasha chose stones with the painstaking care of a collector. “This place is awesome!” she says. Christy Hamilton came in to replace a stone she’d lost from a pendant and couldn’t help smiling. “I’ve come here forever,” she says. “Tim does beautiful work. And whenever I had my grandchildren, I’d bring them here and let them choose a rock.”

Custom Gems is a wonderful source for shoppers, hobbyists, and daydreamers.

Custom Gems Inc.
8487 Frederick St.
402-397-9606
customgemsomaha.com

Silver of Oz

August 16, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Welcome to Silver of Oz, a handcrafted silver jewelry shop owned and operated by jewelry designer Levent Oz. (At the time of this interview, the store was located in Benson. It has since relocated to Montclair  on Center in West Omaha).

Oz’s personal story is dramatic and intricate, much like the antique silver cigarette cases, pill boxes, decorative rings, and dangling necklaces and earrings on display. Oz, who was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and lived in Vienna, Austria, before moving to the United States in 1998, has been influenced by a combination of Ottoman court jewelry and European modern style.

The son of a Turkish museum supervisor, who cared for the royal jewelry collection in the Topkapi Palace Museum, Oz had the chance to study the impressive court jewelry collection not accessible to most visitors. His awareness of and contact with classic silver pieces—such as Irish and Spanish swords designed with Nioello silver patterning and with Armenian black metal (which is tricky to work with and can shatter easily)—helped influence Oz’s silver-crafting style, fusing old and new, east and west.

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Oz’s own jewelry designs play with the surface of the metal. He creates unique pieces which embrace precious and semi-precious stones. His creations are made in a rectangular workshop at the back of the Maple Street store where he also teaches silversmith classes.

From a small burner in the studio space, Oz stirs the dark, thick Turkish coffee, Nuri Toplar; and just when the bubbles pop, he pours the sugary mixture into two demitasse cups with bright Turkish designs and tiny spoons.

After one sip, Oz excuses himself during a recent Saturday to greet customers Beth and Leon Wassenaar from Orange City, Iowa, who drove into Benson specifically to meet him. “Our friend owns this building, and we really like the wedding rings he made for them,” explains Beth.

An hour later, the Wassenaars left Silver of Oz with big smiles after buying a lovely pair of silver tassel earrings and a stunning silver and coral necklace Beth promptly wore out the door.

“The main point,” Oz said, smiling, “is not really selling. I love to interact with my customers.”

Not only does Oz enjoy talking with and getting to know his customers, he also likes to share a specialty from his homeland—coffee. With his mother still in Istanbul and a sister in London, Oz tries to visit Europe and the Middle East, but his teaching and designing schedule is hectic.

Doug Kuony took Oz’s beginner’s silversmith class a year ago when he found he had extra time on his hands after his father’s death. Oz teaches three levels of classes, two hours a week each in four-week sessions. Kuony, who lives close to the shop in Benson, said his experience with Oz “has been great.” He learned how to use the jeweler’s saw and the fusing torch, and now Kuony routinely makes his own silver designs.

For Oz, the journey to owning his own business has been a long one.

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While in college in Turkey studying English Literature, Oz worked at an antique store where he was introduced to the European art. After immigrating to Vienna in 1992, he learned how to produce the jewelry he designed since he no longer had the support of the workshops that finished his pieces.

In 1998, he decided to move to the United States and become a citizen. After landing in New Orleans where he worked as a waiter, Oz and his wife, Yeshim, a child, adolescent, and family therapist, were on their way to the west coast when they “got stuck in Omaha.” Oz ran a silver jewelry kiosk in the Oak View Mall for three months until he closed that operation.

Instead, he went to work at First Data in 2001. Oz ran a machine that inserted credit card statements into envelopes. He stayed in that position for 10 years, all the while knowing in his heart that he was an artist.

He finally got up the courage in 2008 to open his tiny shop in Benson. The following year, he moved Silver of Oz one block west into a much bigger space, adding a workshop and small art gallery. This April, Oz relocated his store once again to Montclair Shopping Center at 13013 West Center Road under the clock tower.

Perhaps the framed dollar bill he keeps superstitiously in an office drawer, signifying the first dollar he made in America, has brought him good fortune after all.

Silver of Oz
13013 W Center Rd
402-558-1307
www.silverofoz.com