HIGHLAND | Traditionally, most jewelry stores have their work stations out of sight. That is not the case at RSO Jewelry, which stands for Robert Stephen Originals.
Walking into the store, customers can see Robert Hansen, who co-owns the business with his wife Avarie, working at his bench.
“The new concept is to place it in the front where you can see what is going on and see the behind the scenes aspect,” Robert Hansen said.
Opened in November in downtown Highland at 2647 Highway Ave., RSO offers custom-made jewelry and repairs. Stephen is Robert Hansen's middlen ame.
Whether repairing a family heirloom, incorporating grandmother’s diamond in a custom piece or designing jewelry from scratch, the Hansen’s love seeing the smiles on their customer’s faces when they are pleased with the finished product.
Customers can bring in something that was special to them like the turquoise bracelet bought on their honeymoon in Mexico five years ago, Avarie Hansen said.
“They don’t think it is worth it,” Avarie Hansen said. “When in reality it is worth it because it is what they love. It is all about who gave it to you and where you got it.”
One recent project involved taking the wedding band and engagement ring of the great grandparents and turning them into crosses for First Holy Communion presents, she said.
“Every single thing like that becomes unique,” Avarie Hansen said. “There was a boy who came in with a wooden cross from his grandmother who had passed away. He was a high school football player and terrified he was going to ruin it. He didn’t want to take it off.”
The solution was enclosing the cross in a custom silver wrap with a sturdy hook. It was also inscribed.
RSO creates engagement rings and has an online business as well using Skype to aid in the design process.
“Our rings are something special that customers can’t find anywhere else,” Avarie Hansen said. “Rob can design exactly what they want. We believe in letting our customers’ creativity come out so that they feel a personal connection.”
“Bring in your ideas and we will help them come to life,” Robert Hansen said.
A former Hammond Police officer who served 16 years on the force, Robert Hansen was introduced into jewelry making by his stepfather who made rosaries for the missions though St. James Church in Highland.
“He taught me to make rosaries,” Robert Hansen said. “About five years ago, I found his old tools and supplies and I started tinkering around with it again. I expanded to necklaces and bracelets, and I started making earrings and rings and soldering and welding.”
RSO also showcases the work of local artists who design jewelry.
“There are crazy talented people in Northwest Indiana, Chicago and Southern Michigan,” he said.