Anneliese Nefos is a fashion icon in Medina County. Her infectious positivity and dazzling products help locals shine, and after decades of serving the community, she knows what it takes to stand out.
“I found my love of jewelry thanks to a long history that goes back to Switzerland,” she explains. “I come from a very large family. My father is the youngest of 14 children. My grandpa, a landowner, founded the city where I lived in 1431. All I ever saw growing up on my aunts and cousins was the most beautiful jewelry. I started reading up, saving my money from babysitting, and I’d go to the local gold smith. They would design pieces at my request, and they would ask, ‘would you like it in white gold or yellow gold?’ I would say, ‘I don’t know!’ They would make a sample in silver or brass, and I found myself involved in the design process. By the time I was a teenager, I had quite a few genuine pieces.
“When I came to the United States, my husband worked for a very large jewelry chain as an enterprising director. They asked him if I could help over the Christmas season, and I realized that I already had a bit of knowledge regarding the jewelry industry. I must have done well enough that they asked me to work full time. I declined, as my husband thought just a few days was just fine for me. When he passed, though, they were very good to me, and they let me work full time. That’s what started my dreaming. I never thought it would be possible to one day own my own shop.”
An estimated 80 percent of the pieces at the Medina Gem Company, her stunning store nestled within the historic streets of Medina Square, is designed in-house by local artists or Nefos herself. Thanks to her studies at the Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica, California, she has blossomed within her craft. When she met her second husband, a Medina camera entrepreneur, she opened a storefront jointly with his camera business on West Washington Street. Eventually, she made the move to her current location in the Town Square Commons Building on Public Square.
“The most rewarding part of what I do is probably that throughout the 30 years that we’ve been here, we have established a relationship with every customer. Now, parents bring back their children. We all visit before we do business, and it is so rewarding to have that relationship with the community here. I love this community, it gives me life. I in turn give back by donating to different organizations, schools, and hospitals. I grew up understanding that if you are fortunate, you give back.”
Her personal style is much like that of her storefront—classic and elegant, almost regal, with an energetic twist. She exudes femininity in tasteful dresses in bright, primary colors and accessorizes with the loveliest jewelry. When the Lifestyle team first met Nefos, she was flaunting a stunning necklace that belonged to her grandmother. She touched the pendant with a twinkle in her eye and explained, “I love personal jewelry and the meaning it contains. As a jeweler, I love restyling, altering, or reworking pieces that have a lot of meaning. I like to involve people in the designing process so that they may incorporate their own style and taste, and I find that reworking personal jewelry is a rewarding way to get someone involved. If you wear something, it is an expression of personality, and you want it to reflect who you are.”
“When it comes to dress, I stray away from stark, harsh, and linear styles. Soft lines and bright colors inspire me. Colors are fun, as they can represent our mood, feelings, and goals They can be an energy boost, depending on what we wear. Our fashion helps tell our story, but we must be sure to focus on telling our own story and not judging others’.”
Some time ago, she explains , a very intense study of clothing and perception revealed that people who dressed professionally are treated with more respect than those who have little regard for their appearance. As an avid historian, she adds with a laugh, could a ruler hold a country or even a town for that matter, if he came out in a hay wagon and overalls? While she takes her personal appearance very seriously, she humbly reminds that we should treat everyone with respect and be quick to judge based on actions, not appearance.
“When I worked as an apprentice, I was sent to school to become a diamatologist and a gemologist. I worked from the floor up into management, and I worked in a very beautiful store. One day, there were five people in the store when a gentleman walked in in overalls. With every step, dry soil crumbled on the carpet. I stood waiting to see which employee would approach him, and nobody did. I went up to this gentleman, and he stood looking at very expensive upscale watches, encrusted with 14 karat or 18 karat diamonds, $15,000 to $30,000 per watch. He informed me that he had come to buy a fine watch, and he selected a man’s watch in 18 karat. Then he asked for the same style in women’s. To make a long story short, one watch was $30,000, and the other was $27,000, and he paid with a bank check. Never make assumptions based on appearance.”
Jewelry, she explains, is a fashion statement that can complement all styles. As a self-described pearl freak, Nefos pinpoints pearls as an accessory that works with many different outfits. Her expertise has helped her narrow in on the finest pearls across the globe, and she passes on quality and deals to her customers. Pearls add a chicness to every occasion and are obtainable within all budgets.
“Many years ago at the International Jewelry Show, I met a very lovely lady from Bulgaria with a creative mind. She adds beautiful stones—peridot, tanzanite, garnet—into longer strands of pearls. They can be looped into two or three strands to create amazingly different looks. With both classic pearls and the longer, stone-accented strands, you can create a beautiful, understated, classic style that goes anywhere. You can wear a wild dress or outfit and, when you add pearls, you create a very individual look that nobody else can rival. No other jewelry creates such variety.”
At the Medina Gem Company, 23 Public Square, you will be met with shimmering handcrafted jewelry, expertise, and and uplifting attitude. “Life out there can be so confusing and negative, I think we should instead focus on the beautiful pieces of the world,” explains Nefos, who is dedicated to bringing out the beauty in every soul she encounters. To plan your visit, stop by MedinaGemCo.com.