About Us

History
Team

HOW WE FORMED

Premier Gems, a custom design jewelry store, opened in Calgary in 2005, the realization of owner Jeff Nechka’s passionate world wide pursuit of gemology and design. Jeff’s mastery of the art of gem and diamond cutting and established international connections in the best markets allow him to exceed client expectations. Jeff is also among a small number of Canadian members belonging to the American Gem Trade Association and the Gemological Institute of America Alumni Association. These organizations are the governing bodies for the industry laying out best practice principles, ethical standards, and making each member accountable to their strict guidelines. Membership with these associations ensures consumer confidence.

Premier Gems is now an unique jewelry retail business recently relocated in 2014 to the thriving arts and entertainment district of 17th Avenue (Lower Mount Royal) in Calgary. Their expanded team of three designers draw inspiration from the view of the city and the avenue below working with clients to realize the jewelry of their dreams. Their combined experiences and portfolios speak for themselves and they are constantly striving to exercise their design skills in new and challenging ways.

The future of Premier Gems is as bright and sparkling as the stones they work with.

Jeff Nechka
Liz Kranyak
Erin Crossman

Jeff Nechka

My passion for this field started from a lifelong fascination with rocks, minerals, and fine art. My expertise then evolved to coloured gems as I began using my design talents to create custom jewellery.

I became fascinated with rocks and gems at an early age. I remember digging in my back alley to find the most unusual shaped stones and collecting various specimens from road trips. These became special mementoes of my travels. The hobby evolved as I began tumbling the rocks into smooth shiny gems. It was a four-week process, which at the time seemed like an eternity that culminated in a tense yet exciting moment as the results of my weeks of waiting were revealed and I saw what my rocks had become.

I spent almost two years in university studying sciences before choosing to pursue my passion of product design through a new faculty being offered at the Alberta College of Art and Design. I had just received the acceptance notice from ACAD when a jewelry manufacturer in Central America contacted me with an offer of internship. I would be designing jewelry and educating clients on diamonds and other gems. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and one that would launch my career. The choice was simple. I packed my bags to head south.

Following the internship, I was more convinced than ever that I was destined to pursue a career in the jewellery industry and upon my return I enrolled at the Gemological Institute of America Headquarters to complete the skills necessary to master diamond identification and grading. A few months after the course I was off to Bangkok, Thailand to study coloured gems, their treatments, and how to discern between investment-quality and mass-produced gems and obtain the coveted Graduate Gemologist degree.

Next, I spent time in South East Asia, Southern, West, and East Africa, and Australia buying gems with a German gem merchant before settling back in Calgary to learn the ropes of operating a retail business and finally opening Premier Gems in 2005.

Today I am a certified GIA Gemologist and gemologist appraiser and one of but a handful of Canadian members belonging to the American Gem Trade Association and the Gemological Institute of America Alumni Association. These organizations are the governing bodies for the industry laying out best practice principles, ethical standards, and making each member accountable to their strict guidelines.

I have come a long way from my humble beginnings hunting through gravel behind my house for that rare hidden treasure. Looking at a rough gem, I always feel a sense of excitement as I try to determine the gem’s personality through its outer form. I fashion gems by listening to my heart to avoid over-thinking while cutting, which can result in frustrating mistakes and heartache.

Liz Kranyak

Credentials & Background:

  • Art Fundamentals (Certificate, Haliburton School of Art)
  • Jewellery Arts (Certificate Haliburton School of Art)
  • Jewellery and Metals (Certificate, Georgian College)
  • Goldsmithing and Silversmithing (Certificate, Georgian College)

Growing up in the Niagara Region of Ontario, I have found plenty of inspiration with its rich history and deep connection to nature. I have been drawing since I was able to hold a pencil, and my household has always been in a mechanical background. I found jewellery to be the perfect marriage of the technical and the creative. I discovered jewellery creation in art school, fell in love with it, and never looked back.

Erin Crossman

Credentials & Background:

  • Education: BFA Jewelry and Metals 2008 ACAD

I am a native Calgarian known for my wild imagination and creative spirit. I developed an interest in the arts at a very young age and have passionately been pursuing the development of my skills ever since. I enjoy drawing, sketching and forging my way through life. I attended Lord Beaverbrook High School where I excelled in the Advanced Placement Arts Program. In my final year, I had the opportunity to visit Europe and see up close the works of art that had inspired me throughout the years: Michelangelo, Edvard Munch, and Leonardo Da Vinci are among the top few. I then went on to attend the Alberta College of Art and Design where I graduated in 2008 from the Jewelry & Metals Program. After graduation, I accepted a position at Birks in the service and repairs department and went on to become the service manager for the later portion of my stay with the company.

I am very excited to have joined the Premier Gems team and I look forward to helping make your jewelry desires a reality.