From a tiny office in the front of his store, Bill Nusser gives a friendly wave and hello to all the customers who stop in his jewelry store, much like his father, grandfather and great grandfather before him.

Nusser is the fourth generation owner of Hands Jewelers, a fixture on the Iowa City downtown retail scene since 1854. The store is housed in a historic building on Washington Street constructed in the mid-1800s. Nusser said it has survived and flourished over the years in part because of the importance of integrity. “They built up the business to be honest and trustworthy,” he said. “They understood the importance of enhancing the knowledge and ethics in the business.”

Nusser’s father — who was very interested in colored stones and diamonds — grew the business to several locations over the years of his ownership and added a gift department. Nusser, who has worked for the family business since about age 16, continues that legacy.

“My focus has always been buying the finest diamonds that we could and we like to get as close to the source as possible. And we have remarkable grading standards,” he said, noting a long-term employee inspects everything they buy before they buy it. “This is so that we can make sure that every piece we sell is the best you can buy for the money. People can buy with great confidence from us and I think that is true of all the generations.”

Next in line to take over the store is Nusser’s son, Charlie, a rare fifth-generation family business owner.

“We have the same number of generations shopping with us as have owned this store. There are a lot of people we have maintained a connection with and we have a few famous clients as well so that is fun.”

“The things you buy here are permanent; they are meant to last for generations.”

Source: Giorgio, Katie Mills., The Gazette, Dec. 14, 2016