Wednesday, January 13, 2016

'It's all handmade jewelry in our shop'

Owner Abby Restko

Owner Abby Restko shows a necklace to a customer in her store, Glassando, in its new, larger location in the Old Capitol Mall in Iowa City on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

By Katie Mills Giorgio, The Gazette

While Abby Restko was in college at the University of Iowa, she embarked on a study abroad experience in Venice, Italy.

“I brought back all of this lovely Murano glass jewelry for my family and friends,” she said. “They were getting stopped by people on the street remarking on how beautiful the jewelry was and how they’d not seen anything like it before.”

Restko, who was a majoring in marketing with a minor in art, knew then that she should have a jewelry store that offered Murano glass locally. So she opened Glassando in a small space in the Old Capitol Mall just a week after graduation in 2005.

“It’s great being in a college town,” she said. “And I like being in an area with other small retailers here at Old Capitol Mall. Being a part of a community of business owners has been great support.”

Glassando still carries Murano glass jewelry. But in the last decade, the store has grown and now features a wide variety of bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings.

Restko said the store sells semi-precious stones, alternative metals, and Black Hills gold. There also is meteorite jewelry, bracelets made from recycled guitar strings and telephone wire and necklaces created from naturally expired butterfly wings.

“It’s all handmade jewelry in our shop,” Restko said.

Restko said demand has been key to Glassando’s growth.

“What we offer has really evolved as we’ve gotten requests from our customers,” she said. “That’s been really cool to see. And we plan to continue to evolve as we work to serve our customers even better.”

Glassando recently expanded into a larger store and now offers engagement rings.

“We moved some 30 feet down the mall in October,” Restko said. “This new space, which we designed ourselves, is about six times the size of our original location. I think it will allow us to serve our customers better and offer work by more jewelry designers.”

The new store includes a dressing room, a feature that surprises many customers, Restko said.

“Often times we have brides who want to try on wedding day jewelry with their dresses but in our old small store there was nowhere to change. I think it shows our customers that we take fashion seriously here at Glassando,” she said.

Restko said she has worked hard to make sure Glassando offers a wide price range.

“We have products that range from $10 to thousands of dollars. We want to offer something for everyone,” she said. “And we want to make sure our store is open and not intimidating. Shopping for jewelry isn’t any fun if you are too afraid to walk into the store.”

Besides her husband, Restko has four part time employees that assist her in the shop. One a day-to-day basis, Restko said she’s doing everything from working the sales floor to handling the buying and maintaining their online sales.

“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work to handle,” she said. “But I most enjoy helping people find that perfect piece,” she said. “It’s fun because jewelry is commemorative, usually for an occasion and its fun to be a part of that.”