MAUI(KHON2) — How a Maui jeweler’s mission to restore precious heirlooms is giving people more than just their sparkle back.
“I won’t take it off my finger,” Michelle Quirk said holding up her hand to show off the impressive, square diamond ring on her finger.
“It’s better than it was before the fire,” Quirk beamed.
After the Maui wildfire ravaged the Lahaina community, Quirk, like so many others, lost everything. When she was finally able to go back to her home, there was only one thing she wanted.
“All I really wanted was my grandma’s rings that she had passed down for me, from her mom,” she said.
She dug through the ash, with the help of Samaritan’s Purse, and they found it.
“I just like screamed with excitement and tears of happiness, because I knew it was still intact,” Quirk said.
Anjanette Naganuma’s family also unearthed precious momentos buried under the rubble.
“You’re happy to find something that you recognize, especially pieces like wedding rings,” Naganuma said. “But also heartbroken because it’s not the same.”
Enter Omi Chamdi and his wife Eylet, owners of No Ka Oi Jewelers.
“We wanted to do something to help people in need that have lost so much,” Omi Chandi said.
So they are restoring pieces damaged by the fire…for free.
“It’s an amazing feeling to give back a piece of jewelry that you know, we took it in, in a burned condition. And to see it back to its life,” Chamdi explained.
Chamdi said he got the idea from a friend who he’d visited a few years back on the mainland after a fire destroyed parts of California.
“I visited his store. He’s also a jeweler,” he explained. “I visited his store after the fires, and I saw he was restoring people’s jewelry. And he said this is something that he’s doing for the community. And I thought that was such a such a neat thing to do and to offer to bring back burned jewelry to people that thought they were gone forever.”
So far he said he’s received more than 30 pieces. It can take hours, to days to restore. But he said it’s worth it.
“I can’t describe it,” Chamdi said. “It’s like seeing a piece of something that has been lost, re-found and it’s just, it is exciting. It’s an exciting feeling.”
For people like Quirk and Naganuma, Chamdi is restoring so much more than jewelry.
“You’ve really just changed my outlook on everything and my, you know, move toward the whole situation,” Quirk said. “It’s really just life changing.”
Chamdi said anyone who finds jewelry damaged by the Lahaina fire can contact No Ka Oi Jewelers. He said most gold, platinum and diamonds can be polished and brought back to life.
“This is something that can’t be replaced,” Quirk said. “It’s passed on and I want to continue passing it on, and now it has even a stronger story of survival.”