Rahl Jewelers owner Brad Gamss thrives on making people happy through jewelry.
WORDS BY TRICIA DESPRES
photography by robin subar
Rahl Jewelers is a happy place. It could be the aroma of fresh baked cookies and hot brewing coffee as you walk in. It could be the sounds of laughter as sales staff reunite with
long time customers. It could be as simple as the fact that jewelry usually symbolizes joyous occasions.
“It’s usually a happy occasion that people come in for,” explains Owner and President of Rahl Jewelers Brad Gamss. “Of course there are the more standard services like watch batteries and jewelry repairs, but most people walk through our doors because they are looking to celebrate an occasion such as an anniversary or a birthday. It’s those commemorative occasions where people can use jewelry to show their love to someone else by giving them something nice that will last a lifetime.”
A vital member of the jewelry business for over 40 years, Gamss and his sales staff relish in these happy moments and the overall happy atmosphere…especially when jewelry is one of the few ways left to tangibly show one’s love to another. “Tangible things are fading away,” says Gamss, who began in the jewelry business in 1972 picking up deliveries in downtown Chicago. “Jewelry remains something that people can hold on to and pass down to generations. I see firsthand what kind of meaning it has when someone can wear mom’s ring or grandma’s necklace and how much it means to them. It’s far from a monetary thing. Sure, one can look at it as just a $500 ring, but to someone else, it is truly priceless and irreplaceable.”
Gamss made the decision to move the store to the South Barrington area from its previous location in Hanover Park back in 2007 and since then, has seen his clientele evolve. “We definitely noticed that we started to sell different and higher end pieces than ever before,” says Gamss, who notes that a jeweler is always on the premises of the store. “We are definitely selling to a white collar clientele up here while we still reach our blue collar customers that we have serviced for years. We treat them the same if they come in for a watch band or ready to spend thousands of dollars on a piece. They are both our customers and our friends.”
Rahl Jewelers offers a wide array of jewelry pieces, from engagement and bridal sets to colored stone jewelry, chains, and designer lines by Simon G. and Le Vian. Watch selections for both men and women include Bulova, Movado, and Seiko, and the store also carries an impressive selection of Lladró.
Located in the Fountain Crossing Plaza, Rahl Jewelers has also become well known throughout the area for their custom design capabilities via custom designer Anthony Carone. “We have a custom designer that can sit with a customer to design a piece from scratch while the customer is watching,” remarks Gamss, who offers custom design appointments throughout the week. “It’s not a matter of opening a catalog and picking out something you like. Instead, you can bring in a ring and take out the 25 diamonds and put it in a new ring. You can create something out of clay and then wax and leave with something that you will wear and something that is truly your style. There aren’t many jewelry stores that you can walk into and say ‘create something for me’ without using a catalog or a computer program. The customer has a part in designing the piece every step of the way, whether they want the band skinnier here or a bigger stone there. They truly feel a part of the process.”
After all these years, Gamss says he still understands what it takes to keep a successful business going. “Repeat customers and customer referrals are still the life blood of this business,” says Gamss, whose son Ryan recently graduated from GIA with a degree in diamonds and looks to continue on the family jewelry tradition. “I mean, we have many customers we go out to dinner with, and we know when others are having a baby or when someone is in the hospital. It becomes so much more than a business relationship.”
A relationship that Rahl Jewelers’ customers have been able to rely on for all of these years. “I am here six days a week,” chuckles Gamss. “If someone has a question or a problem, they always know where to find me.”
Rahl Jewelers is located at 3001 North Barrington Road in Hoffman Estates, 847-765-3000, rahljewelers.com.
Ryan, Brad, and Nancy Gamss