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Bursting with a spirit that lights up in his eyes, I saw that spark in Raz Gnat, co-owner with his father, Itzhak, of Gnat Jewelers (Gnat Original Design), when he and I met several times in Cherry Creek North at both their present location at 2703 East 3rd Avenue, and their new 1,450 sq. ft. "soon-to-be open" jewelry gallery at 250 Columbine Street.

Raz, who joined his father in the business over 20 years ago, is excited about their second location in the luxury $100 million mixed-used project, which will meet their expectations of offering their customers even more exclusive, finely-crafted, custom-made jewelry they might not find elsewhere.  Itzhak Gnat originally opened his first store in 1983.

There can be a million things going on in Raz’s life, but he’s an honorable man of his word who stays focused and on task.  When you are around him, you have his full attention and he has an amazing ability to stay calm under any conditions.  When asked what he wants people to know about him:  “My parents taught me to be a gentleman, and that's what I thrive to be every day. I’m pretty involved in the community, and we support the community that supports us with involvement in a variety of children’s charities, organizations for the homeless, and nonprofits on behalf of veterans. To name a few nonprofits we support:  St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Project Cure, Susan G. Komen,  Operation TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries) Freedom - a program of the Rocky Mountain Human Services, and Wounded Warriors.  We stay out there and also host a variety of charitable events that are important to us."                                                                           

Raz adds:  "As I mature, I care more about people and their feelings and well-being.  Seeing people happy, and making them smile is rewarding.  I do my best not to disappoint."

When I think of Raz Gnat and his father Itzhak, I see strong men who take pride in what they do, a conviction for running the best jewelry store in the country, and a gusto for life and a love of the people around them. Raz is resilient and capable with an amazing gift for making friends and embracing challenge and change.  I came away from our interview also admiring Raz for his "cool style" and great insight and intuition.

The Gnat family has many fond and moving memories that go back several generations.  Raz and his father, Itzhak, have worked tirelessly to make their business a success.  They haven't taken a vacation in years - except for an occasional weekend. They are ready to do things "large" and expand even further.  With so much talent and a passion for giving, they realize they can play an even more important role in the community. Raz & Itzhak Gnat are "gems" in their own right!

(A Google review on Gnat Jewelers summed it up best:  "These guys do incredible original designs, with beautiful gems and materials, at fair prices. My wife is a huge fan of their work. I'm a huge fan of the way they do business. I've shopped all over Denver and Cherry Creek specifically ...These guys do incredible original designs, with beautiful gems and materials, at fair prices. My wife is a huge fan of their work. I'm a huge fan of the way they do business. I've shopped all over Denver and Cherry Creek specifically looking for unique and special jewelry for my wife; Gnat is by far our favorite. Our independent appraiser even gushed at one item I took to him, and told me we'd be lucky to find work and materials of that quality anywhere else. Two big thumbs up for Gnat.”)    

How did you get involved in the jewelry business?  My father worked in the industry in Israel, and I starting working with him when I was 15 years old.

What distinguishes Gnat Jewelers from others?  Our craftsmanship, talent and ability to create original designs… which is our signature.  Our knowledge of the jewelry business.  We offer better value and personalized customer service that comes from a “mom and pop shop”.

Raz, how would you describe your personal style?  Mostly elegant, conservative (with a little edge) and  - a touch of rock & roll!

How would you describe your personality?  I like adventure and a challenge.  I have the kind of personality that notices little things and details.  I’m a caregiver, pretty much the planner, first responder/rescue-diver type… always the one who takes care of stuff.

How have you personally changed through the years?   I’m more compassionate and less selfish.  Much more aware of how my actions affect other people.  I have two daughters with an age difference between them, and it’s helped me grow as a father.  I’ve learned from my older daughter, and now I’m more patient and a better father with my younger daughter.  I’ve grown as a jewelry designer and a professional - and I’ve also learned to cater to my clients’ needs better.

Tell us more about your fabulous new store at 250 Columbine:  We are excited about the new store!  I want to give thanks to our clientele and the support the community has given us through the years… This new store will take us to the next level as a designer/jewelry store in Denver and have its own look and feel. 

Our products and designs will be unmatched and not have the mainstream names you can find elsewhere.  It will not be your typical jewelry store; it will be a full experience of being educated first, and you know you are purchasing an important piece of jewelry  that is a personalized piece of art…. The other jewelers/designers who we work with don’t have mass produced products and are only found in other jewelry stores that are exclusive, and Gnat has that exclusive here in Denver like those boutiques around the world who carry the same high quality pieces.

We have in house, small craftsmanship pieces with attention to detail.   It’s for jewelry buyers who are not interested in the same old stuff sold everywhere. 

What is a most treasured family keepsake you would grab and take with you in case of a fire?  Irreplaceable family photos, especially of members who are no longer with us, milestone events and photos of my children when they were younger.

Tell us about a favorite childhood memory?   It was so cool… my father bought me a pair of blue suede Pumas with a yellow sash; for some reason, it’s one of the most memorable gifts I have ever gotten.  

What did you teach yourself to do?  I went to school to become a jeweler, and learned most of what I know from my dad.   Through the years though, I’ve taught myself to be a better jeweler and a better business man.  I’ve done lots of sports and want to be good at what I do, and I immerse myself in it.  I’m little bit of a perfectionist… I work hard at whatever I’m doing, and make sure things get done well.n

You are single, and dating… What qualities do you look for in a woman?   An intelligent woman who is confident, kind and compassionate - with a sense of humor and a drive for some adventure!

What qualities do you look for in a friend?  Same as above... Plus loyalty, trustworthiness, people who are easy-going, , adventurous, and easy to talk with.  I have male and female friends that I enjoy for their different personality traits, interests and hobbies.

 What is your pet peeve?  People who don’t do what they say they will… and people who have no compassion for others… And – people who are bullies by nature.  There are consequences in life for this kind of behavior. 

What do you consider your best accomplishment so far?  My kids are amazing!  In my business, I feel that I’ve taken the knowledge that my father has given me, and with him at my side, we built a successful business with a great reputation.

What do you still hope to accomplish? A lot… I’m always interested in new opportunities, and I want to learn new things. 

Do you have a favorite saying, motto, or some words to live by?   I teach my kids the basic Golden Rule… “ Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you…”  Treat everyone with respect, and be open to hearing other people’s ideas… and, be tenacious with your own goals.  Keep churning to make that butter!

What do you consider a fun night out in Denver?  Dinner at a wonderful restaurant with great friends…. I love hanging out with my friends.

Best family event?  Every Sunday, along with my kids, our family gets together at my mother’s house, and I prepare brunch; and it’s the one day we all sit together and catch up with each other.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really learned to appreciate that time together.

If you weren’t in Denver, where would you be?  Somewhere on a warm beach…. The smell of the ocean makes my soul happy!

How do you feel about marriage in the future?   I’m a romantic… I am absolutely open to it, if I met the right person.  I would like to be with someone who stands out on her own and is respected for her own accomplishments.

Where do you hope to be at the end of your journey, and how do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered with respect for who I was, and remembered for doing good things and taking care of others.  And – remembered as a good father!