Gnat Jewelry Atelier's Raz Gnat
Our series Talk Shop is a career and style profile featuring personalities from various industries. They are shot on location in Cherry Creek wearing clothing from stores in the area. Writer JORDAN LAUDADIO interviews Raz Gnat the VP and Designer at Gnat Jewelry Atelier.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ESTHER LEE LEACH
Jordan Laudadio: Raz, we’re so excited to speak with you and learn more about Gnat Jewelry Atelier but first, please tell us a bit more about yourself: where are you from, when did you get started in this business, and have you worked in any other industry?
Raz Gnat: I was born in Israel and moved to Colorado as a teen. I grew up in the jewelry business, helping my father at his shop and started making jewelry at the age of 15. Although jewelry has always been a constant passion in my life, I have dabbled in event production, real estate, restaurants and am always looking for fun and exciting opportunities. Now, I am the VP and designer at GNAT Jewelry Atelier and, most importantly, the father of two amazing girls.
JL: You don’t hear about family owned and operated businesses very often these days. Tell us about the store’s history and why your family decided to move to Denver.
RG: My parents moved to Israel as young children by way of Europe. At the age of 34, they decided to move to Colorado with their two young children, to pursue a new life and opportunity for our family. My father has been in the jewelry business since his early 20s and continued pursuing his jewelry career once we moved here. He opened our first jewelry business in the United States in Cherry Creek North in 1983. And that time, we mostly serviced other jewelers and provided them with jewelry repair and design services. 37 years later, Cherry Creek is still home to our jewelry store, but now we focus mostly on custom design and repair for our retail customers. The community has embraced us and we are proud to say that we are recognized as Denver’s best jewelry designer year after year.
JL: That’s wonderful, congratulations! With GNAT Jewelry Atelier having such a strong foundation, where do you hope to see the business in five years?
RG: We want to continue to grow our fantastic reputation and business, while possibly expanding into other markets.
JL: In the past, GNAT Jewelry Atelier has been described as the “jewelers’ jeweler”. Can you tell us more about what that means?
RG: For many years, our focus was servicing other jewelers in the Denver area and providing them with repair and design services, which they could, in turn, offer to their clients. At one point in my father’s business and for many years, we were the biggest jewelry service provider to other jewelers in the Denver metro area.
JL: For those that might not have visited your store but are interested in stopping by, what might they expect when they walk into the atelier?
RG: What sets us apart is that we are a small family business and therefore can provide a more personalized experience. Some of our employees have been with us for many years and our longtime customers see the same friendly faces every time they come and visit us. We get to know them personally, they get to know us as real people, and we have been fortunate enough to develop friendships with our clientele that go beyond the four walls of our store. Everyone who walks in the door is a VIP and is treated as one. It’s the kind of service that has earned us third-generation clients.
JL: At GNAT Jewelry Atelier, you’re known for your custom designs, but you also feature other designers. Who are some other designers you carry?
RG: We carry a variety of boutique designers from around the world, all of whom offer us exclusivity in the Denver marketplace, meaning you won’t find these designs in any other store in the city. We search long and hard for the designers we carry, in order to find the right partners who provide unique design, service, and top-notch quality, similar to ours. Customers will see many of the designers we carry on the red carpet, worn by some of Hollywood’s A-Listers like Dakota Johnson at the Emmys in Natalie K and Ariana Grande and Beyonce in Doves by Doron Paloma.
JL: Knowing that you have worked in this industry for most of your life, what is your favorite thing about being in the jewelry business?
RG: Outside of designing and creating beautiful pieces for our clients, my favorite part is the person-to-person interaction with them. I love that I get to make a client’s dream design a reality. I am inspired by the romantic aspect of jewelry purchase, and the satisfaction of knowing that I designed something they will love and cherish for many years and possibly pass down to the next generation. Every piece of jewelry I have created has a significant meaning to the buyer or receiver and I love knowing we are a part of the story.
JL: As you keep up with everything going on in the industry, what are some trends in jewelry you’re seeing currently?
RG: Yellow gold is making a very strong comeback! I have also seen the demand for halo designs decreasing, while center stones with a more curvy appearance (such as cushion, oval and pear) are the desired shape. Overall, I am seeing the “classic” look becoming more popular.
JL: Your family has been based in this area for almost 40 years. What do you love most about being in Cherry Creek?
RG: I can’t think of a better neighborhood to have my store within the Denver metro area. The Cherry Creek North neighborhood has amazing shops, fantastic restaurants, while still maintaining that neighborhood feel. I love walking down the street and seeing my neighbors and knowing their names. I can’t walk a block without seeing a handful of familiar faces anytime I walk out the door.
JL: Is there anything else you’d like Denver to know about GNAT Jewelry Atelier?
RG: Denver has always welcomed and supported our family with open arms. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of this community and for this, we are very thankful and appreciative. Besides striving to offer the best product and the best service to our clientele, it is just as important to us to give back to the community that has supported us for so long by being involved in several local charitable organizations and community events.
JL: Finally, as a successful business owner who is very stylish. do you have any style tips for our readers?
RG: Dress in a respectful and appropriate manner for the occasion and strive to be the best-dressed person in the room. It’s very important to make a good first impression, so be sure to add some personality, but keep it classy. Whenever possible, shop local.
Raz Gnat: @raz_gnat