The Gem Shop celebrates 40 years


elev815 helps The Gem Shop celebrate their 40th anniversary.

"No, I know who you are. I'll take care of it." Shelly Schweigart, manager of The Gem Shop in Rockton, knows how to put customers at ease.

The Main Street business celebrated its 40th anniversary last week, offering 30% off any item in the story (they're offering discounts this week too). As part of their celebration, they had planned to host a child-friendly Halloween haunted house at a secret location, giving out tickets (with the address) in exchange for non-perishable food donations for the Rockton Old Stone Church Food Pantry. But the haunted house was canceled when it was damaged in the storm on Oct. 24. They kept collecting donations, though, in two bins in the store.

The Gem Shop can do any kind of jewelry repair. They recommend regular maintenance - a checkup every six months to a year - to make sure shanks and prongs remain secure, so that stones don't fall out from rings. They can change watch batteries and wristbands. 

They also design custom jewelry. In-house computer aided design (CAD) software lets them modify an existing design or create a new one based on a customer's idea. Schweigart says they used to do their own metal casting but CAD is more precise - the piece comes back from the fabricator exactly as The Gem Shop designed it. They also buy old jewelry and diamonds from their customers too.

You can see the roots of the business in the Crystal Corner section of the store, where polished minerals are available for just a few dollars. The discovery of a dinosaur bone as a boy led company founder Bruce Mueller to get a master's degree in geology and to become an earth science teacher in Rockford. In 1967, Bruce and his wife Shirley started the C&M Rock Shop, which is open for the spring and summer in Beulah, Michigan. They spend fall and winter at their home in Rockton.

The Gem Shop opened in 1981 in Rockton, under the management of Bruce & Shirley's son, Kevin Mueller. For many years, it was across the street from the Wagon Wheel resort, before moving to downtown Rockton in 1990. Each year Mueller and his staff have designed an elegant ring that is raffled off to benefit the Hononegah HOPE Foundation. 

Besides custom designs, they also feature jewelry from PandoraAllison Kaufman, Indiri, Thorsten, and Earth Gems. They have just started to carry 302, a jewelry line designed by women for women.

After years of experience, Shelly Schweigart and her team at The Gem Shop have become experts in their field. She advised one customer that the middle of the day is the best time to size a ring accurately. "In the morning your fingers are swollen and at night your fingers are swollen." She assured the customer that when she got the ring back, "You won't be able to tell where we did it. We're really good at it."

The staff of The Gem Shop includes:

  • Shelly Schweigart, manager
  • Paige Hoops, marketing manager
  • Michael Day, customer service specialist
  • Angelina Espinoza, costumes specialist
  • Madelynn Maj, sales associate
The Gem Shop staff, some in their Halloween costumes.
Founder Bruce Mueller started with a dinosaur bone, and the shop still sells fossils.
The Gem Shop features jewelry from Pandora.
A non-perishable food donation box under the table.
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