Tom Tivol is one of the most respected jewelers in the Kansas City area and a nationally acclaimed G.I.A. graduate gemologist, lecturer and teacher. Tom has been buying and selling diamonds, colored gemstones, pearls, and jade and designing beautiful jewelry for clients around the United States for over 48 years. Tom authored and teaches his courses in Gemology, Appraisal Ethics and the History of Gemstone and Jewelry Design in the Department of Design at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
After a brief practice of law, Tom spent his early years in his family’s retail jewelry business, Tivol, Inc. and served as its president from 1987-2004. During his tenure, Tivol achieved recognition as one of the finest jewelers in America. His evening lectures during the 1970’s and 1980’s for the Johnson County Community College Continuing Education Program are still fondly remembered by many of his clients. He has provided more than 1200 learning seminars to private groups in Kansas City, national trade shows and the prestigious international seminars held every decade by the Gemological Institute of America.
I have been in the jewelry business almost my entire life and officially since the mid 1970’s. I opened my own store in 2005. My practice may be divided into 4 core products and 2 service categories. These include: (1) jewelry with center diamonds, colored gemstones and pearls, (2) antique and vintage jewelry, (3) less expensive pieces from emerging designers and (4) jewelry that I design; (5) appraisals for different purposes; (6) jewelry, time piece and gemstone repairs. When I design a piece using my customer’s gemstones and metals or by supplying my gemstones and metals, I make the piece once, for that customer, and do not make it again. Diamond engagement rings for the American market are good examples. The majority of the pieces in my gallery are new. A portion of my gallery contains vintage and antique jewelry. I purchase my old jewelry at public auction or from jewelers in Europe whose lifelong work is finding, identifying and selling ancient, antique and vintage jewels. I welcome detailed inquiry about any of my pieces.
One-of-a-kind pieces are removed when they are sold. New pieces are added regularly.
Tom Tivol History — A Family of Jewelers
I began to look at gemstones with my grandfather at the age of 4. My first stones were rubies……learning how to separate them into their 6 primary colors and later on how to identify their geographic origin and when that may be important to value……and pearls, his favorite gem. He taught me every imaginable detail about grading pearl necklaces and would tell me stories of what it was like during the Great Depression, as the development of Japanese cultured pearl farming began to replace the public’s interest in natural pearls from the Persian Gulf … how he would spend long hours convincing his clients that a “cultured pearl” was just as fine as the natural. He explained that when a woman walks into a room wearing a beautiful pearl necklace, it is the first jewel everyone sees….not the lovely diamond on the hand, but rather the gorgeous pearls. He also reminded me that unlike most gemstones, everything about a pearl necklace that is fine or not so fine is visible…nothing can be hidden. After rubies and pearls came opal. I have been studying, buying and selling opal since 1976, and I am still learning about this complex and gorgeous gemstone.
My grandfather was my primary teacher of jewelry construction, gemstone setting and professional repair. My father took over my training of colored stones in middle school. I sat with him at home when he took his British Gemology exam and remember him being challenged to identify the natural or laboratory origin of an emerald for the proctor who had flown in from London.
At some point, I took over my education, gobbling up everything I could find about diamonds, colored stones, jade, pearls and appraising……and this is the way I approach my business every day. I have passed the age when one is supposed to retire, and I look forward to opening my store each day…perhaps to meet a customer who might bring me a stone I have never seen!
The History of Tom Tivol Jewels — A Family of Jewelers
Tivol Inc and Tivol Plaza Inc, has been the name of my family jewelry business since the 1960’s. Before that the name was Charles Tivol & Sons. Charles was my grandfather who started our business in 1910. My father Harold and his brother-in law Jack Leifer entered the business in 1946, at the end of World War II. At that time, my grandfather’s store was located on the 3rd floor of the Altman Building near 11th and McGee, downtown Kansas City, Missouri. That area was home to most of the family businesses started by immigrants who had come to Kansas City beginning in the 1860’s. My grandfather arrived in 1894 on the USS California, at Ellis Island. His original store was microscopic, with room for a single jewelry case and a small office for his bench/bookkeeping. By 1939, he expanded to a private office which he used to present jewelry to his customers. That is where my early apprenticeship began.
I now own and operate my own store and am responsible for every watch and jewelry repair, every appraisal, every design and every lesson I give my clients who wish to study gemstones and jewelry. I like it this way. I also teach courses at the University of Kansas which cover gemological science, the art & science of appraising and the history of gemstone and jewelry design. Some of my students have apprenticed with me over the years and then have moved on to establish their own practices. That represents the best success I could have ever asked for.
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