Some Traditions Never Change

It began more than 165 years ago. A tradition of offering the finest jewelry money can buy, backed by honesty, integrity, and a passion for building relationships.

Hands Jewelers has been in our family for generations. Find out how our story began and how it has evolved through the years.

Hands History


Celebrating a Year Late

Hands thought it was celebrating 100 years, originally believing Oliver Startsman jewelers was founded in 1854.


Overseas Purchasing

William Nusser, Sr. and his wife, Margaret, make their first overseas buying trip to Pforzheim and Idar-Oberstein, Germany.


Bill Starts His Hands Career

William (Bill) Nusser, Jr. stops at Hands Jewelers after a music lesson, is handed a broom and told to get to work. A career begins.


Store Remodel and Gifts

Hands remodels the 1939 storefront, which wins architectural awards. The jewelry and watch departments formerly housed on the second floor move to the newly excavated basement, and the second floor opens as Hands’ gift department. The business office, also formerly upstairs, is moved off-site and remains off-site today.


Hands Acquires Josephson Jewelers

William Nusser, Sr. buys the historic CI Josephson Jewelers that originated in 1881 in Moline, Illinois. Nusser opens a Josephson’s branch store (keeping the Josephson’s name) on the Ped Mall in Iowa City to capture part of a market unserved by Hands.


Bill Develops Jewelry Career

Bill Nusser, Jr.  takes a job with the first U.S. jewelry chain store, Schiffren-Willens, in Dearborn, Michigan while in school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He leaves this job for a position at the campus branch of multi-generational Schlanderer Jewelers in Ann Arbor, where he will work full time for the next four years.


Another Nusser Joins Hands Jewelers

Stephen Michael “Mike” Nusser, grandson of Harold Hands, nephew and cousin to William Sr and Jr, respectively starts at Hands; he will work for his family for nearly a decade, mostly as manager of Hands and finally at Hands in Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids.


Bill Works At Josephson’s Moline

Nusser, Jr. joins staff of Josephson’s Jewelers in Moline as an assistant manager.


Hands Opens Lindale Location

Nusser, Sr. opens Hands Jewelers in Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids.


Josephson’s Expansion

Nusser, Sr.  buys Simmons Jewelers in Clinton, Iowa; opens third Josephson’s in its place. Nusser, Jr. returns to Iowa City to work at Hands. Nusser, Jr. moves over to work at the Iowa City Josephson’s after five months at Hands.


Westdale, Wedding, and Anniversary

Nusser (Sr) opens Hands Jewelers in the new Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids across town from the Lindale Mall location; Nusser, Jr. marries Betsy Boyd in Iowa City, and Hands celebrates 125 years (believing Startsman founding was in 1854).


New Appraiser Gets Praise

Linda Wertz joins the staff at Hands and continues to work there to this day. She will become an expert jewelry appraiser highly regarded in the industry.


A Crisis and Fire

The farm crisis, in addition to skyrocketing gold and diamond prices, devastates jewelers across the Midwest; more than 12 jewelry stores close in the Quad Cities alone. All Nusser family members employed in their business take drastic pay cuts to keep the staff employed. Hands’ off-site business office is destroyed in a devastating fire that began in the bicycle store one floor below in December. Most records, photographs, and memorabilia are lost.


Hands Closes Westdale Location

Nusser, Jr. closes Hands in Westdale Mall.


Hands Sells Lindale Location, Ross Nusser Born

Nusser, Jr. sells the lease with Lindale Mall to Rodgers Jewelers chain; Hands’ exit from the Cedar Rapids market is complete. Bill and Betsy have a baby boy, Ross, who will someday be the next generation to work at Hands.


Josephson’s Clinton Location Sold

Nusser, Jr. sells Josephson’s in Clinton to a jeweler in Lyons, Illinois.


Josephson’s Sale, Charlie Nusser Born

Nusser, Jr. sells Josephson’s in Iowa City to the store manager; Bill and Betsy have another baby boy, Charlie, who will make a career at Hands and become the next (fifth) generation owner of Hands Jewelers, and ninth generation to work in the jewelry business.


Hands Transfers to Next Generation

Nusser, Sr. retires from the jewelry business to develop real estate as his second career; he sells Hands to his son, Bill, and the Hands building to Bill and Betsy on the day the Coral Ridge Mall opens. Bill declares that buying the Hands building will become either the best or worst decision they will ever make due to the uncertainty of how the new mall will impact the downtown.


Dan Brown Joins Hands

Daniel Brown begins working as the head jeweler for Hands, where he still occupies this position today.


Marcia Hofbauer Joins Hands

Marcia Hofbauer joins the Hands staff, of which she is still a vital part; she will meet and later marry Dan Brown, Hands’ lead jeweler.