It was sometime in the mid-1960s in St. Paul Minnesota when two twin boys found agates in an alleyway. The brothers destroyed their father’s screwdrivers as they carved, hammered and pried out the beautiful agates, but their success set the young men on a course towards a joined career in creating award-winning jewelry as GB Jewelers.
In their youth Jim and Tim Gannaway collected banded agates, were fascinated with tumbling equipment and even created necklaces throughout high school as a hobby. When they parted ways to attend different colleges to pursue Bachelor of Science degrees, jewelry making was not in mind as a career path.
It wasn’t until the third year of Tim’s coursework that he elected to take an introductory jewelry making course to fulfill a humanities course requirements. His instructor was encouraging and inspiring. Tim liked jewelry making so much he quit his other coursework to dedicate the majority of his time in the jewelry workshop. Tim began selling at art fairs and in a few stores. “And then I got dragged into it,” explains Jim.
“We developed a clientele of stores down in the twin cities, then worked with a salesman that sold our jewelry nationwide, but when the oil embargo hit we went from having orders to fill every day to nothing,” continues Jim.
The twins from twin cities decided to jump on an opportunity in Oregon and partner with a watchmaker. “My dad was working in Portland with a building products business and saw in the paper that someone was looking for a partner who made jewelry,” Jim recalls. “It was the watchmaker that brought us to Astoria.”
In 1974 Tim moved to Astoria to set up shop in the Liberty Theatre, but when the watchmaker partnership didn’t work out Jim and his wife also made the decision to move out to Oregon. For nine years, the brothers held different venues in Astoria before they moved out to the Youngs Bay Plaza in Warrenton in 1983. “Moving out west, it looked like an absolute cornucopia of opportunity,” says Jim, “The possibilities for growth were incredible and the countryside was beautiful.”
New in town, in their mid-twenties and passionate about creating beautiful one of a kind jewelry, Jim and Tim worked hard to make ends meet and keep their store afloat. While Jim ran the store, Tim went out commercial shrimping during the summer months and Tim’s wife worked in a local cannery. For many years the brothers and their young families worked, breathed and lived custom jewelry, continuously striving to turn the business into a success. “We were raised to never quit. We always do our best or keep going until we do our best,” says Jim.
Over the years the brothers have created stunning award-winning pieces of jewelry that commemorate events and moments in time, and are often custom created for patrons. The jewelers have won regional and national recognition including the prestigious AGTA Award for their creations – they were from the smallest town that entered. Locally, the store received the Warrenton Community Pride Award within one month of opening their current location under the clock tower.
Most recently, they’ve been named as one of the ‘Coolest Jewelry Stores in America’ by InStore Magazine for 2015. “We are not stuck on a style,” says Jim. “We create every style from vintage to contemporary and everything in between because we are making things for our patrons. Not the other way around. Our philosophy is to express the feelings and tastes of the patron. And you have to have a wider range of skills to accommodate the varying tastes.”
Inspiration Comes From Everywhere
Every piece of jewelry from GB Jewelers has meaning, but a few particular pieces shine brightly. While they are often inspired by customers and community, there is an underlying continuous inspiration from God’s creation – take the Forget-Me-Not Butterfly, a piece that won the 1999 Pacific Northwest Best in Show award. “The butterfly is just so full of life,” explains Jim. “They are one of the most graceful and beautiful creatures that God has made, but they only have a few days in their most beautiful form.”
Their Pearl Bopp Comet piece received national recognition and continues to inspire them, “We created the piece under the light of the Pearl Bopp Comet,” he adds. “It was one of the brightest comets of the century and we were inspired to create a piece to commemorate it.”
Both Jim and Tim remain leading forces in the business, “Designs are always a team effort,” Jim explains. “Sometimes feathers get ruffled, but you always end up with a better product. I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of hours on jewelry creation and developing the skills to create jewelry. When you hit the nail on the head with a design, there is nothing more exciting than that to me. I just want to do what I can with the gifts the Lord has given me. The fact that we’re allowed to harness the talent that the Lord has given us, and create beautiful things, is all we want to do.”
For more information, visit the GB Jewelers website.
675 Marlin Ave Suite 1
Monday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.