*Story can be found in Women’s Edition Magazine, May 2018
Kaffi and James MacNabb are the owners and operators of Papio Creek Gems, and they have been in business for over 16 years. Kaffi’s local, family-operated business is an extension of her background in retail and her lifelong passion for jewelry. Customers can rest assured that their jewelry is safe at Papio Creek Gems because it never leaves the store. “We can do everything in-house, from start to finish,” Kaffi shares. She works with her husband and their son, Martin, to design, create, clean, and repair jewelry, all right there in the shop.
One interesting aspect of running a family business is traveling for work—as a family. For years, Kaffi and her family attended trade shows throughout the country to show their wares. One summer, they visited Oregon, California, Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Texas, and Ohio. Time at trade shows gave their children lots of exposure to beads and gemstones. They would play poker at night and use gemstones as chips, Kaffi recalls. “We even had some rubies in the pot at one point,” she says, smiling.
Currently, the business focuses primarily on gemstones and some costume jewelry. “I will always buy amethyst,” Kaffi says. “The question is only whether it is petite or big.” With new trends and styles coming out all the time, she always has her eye on what is new and exciting. “They discover a new stone, or they figure out a new way to treat the stone that changes the color,” explains Kaffi. She travels regularly to Asia to hand-pick the beads she wants to feature at the shop.
At Papio Creek Gems, they specialize in customized jewelry creation. With custom gem setting, they can deftly individualize all kinds of jewelry, from beaded to wire-wrapped to wedding and engagement rings. If a stone has fallen out of a cherished pendant or ring and has been lost, Papio Creek Gems can custom-cut another stone to fit precisely into the void. Kaffi finds this type of work incredibly rewarding. “When a customer leaves absolutely thrilled with something that we have repaired or created, that’s the good stuff,” she confides.
The team at Papio Creek Gems recently completed a fascinating project. They took a woman’s vintage set of crystal jewelry (earrings, necklace, and bracelet) and broke it down into a brand-new set that she could share with other members of her family. “She had us take it all apart, so everybody could get a piece of this favorite jewelry set,” Kaffi says. “We made a necklace for her, earrings and a pendant for her granddaughter, and eight bracelets for other female relatives.”
Because of their dedication to every piece of jewelry, their customers always walk away satisfied, even when Papio Creek Gems cannot complete their project. If something is beyond their scope, they will gladly recommend another local business. “I encourage people to stay with a locally owned and operated business,” Kaffi asserts. “I’ll send someone to another local store to get what she needs, with the hope that that store will reciprocate. I find that most stores do. I’d rather work with each other than against each other.”
In addition to custom jewelry creation, cleaning, and repair, Papio Creek Gems is also a store that sells gems, beads, and other jewelry-making supplies to hobbyists, individuals who make jewelry for a living, and other jewelry stores all over the country. “We encourage customers to come in to see, touch, and compare products or bring in unfinished projects to find that perfect something to make it perfect. Colors can change immensely from stone to stone; to see it in person is the best way to compare.”
Papio Creek Gems also offers a variety of classes to teach jewelry makers and hobbyists alike about the fine art of jewelry design. “We can always offer great advice on how to finish something,” Kaffi says. “I think our prices are phenomenal, and our customer service is stellar.” Her customers agree. “I love this store and the owners,” says customer Kathy Winters. “They are always helpful and have beautiful choices for my projects.”
Papio Creek Gems offers local expertise in jewelry design, creation, and repair, as well as providing all the supplies and education you’ll need to start making your own jewelry. Support local business as they support you!
If you are interested in finding out about more of what Papio Creek Gems has to offer, please call 402-935-4367. You can also stop by in person at 3412 South 144th Street, in Omaha. For photos and inspiration, find them on Facebook.