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In Memoriam: James Breski, Chicago Gemologist and Jeweler December 14, 2020 (5 comments)


Chicago, IL—The coronavirus pandemic has claimed another life from the jewelry industry. James Breski, 75, passed away on December 9, of complications from COVID-19.

Breski, who loved the jewelry industry too much to retire, was renowned and respected for his expertise in gemstones and jewelry, and for his honesty and ethics in business. His eponymous company, James Breski & Co., specialized in classic and vintage-styled luxury colored gem and diamond jewelry, and was a proud member of the American Gem Trade Association.

Breski was a proud Chicagoan, Navy veteran, and lifelong frustrated Chicago Bears fan. With a special passion for Shakespeare, he loved all literature, language, theater, music, and art. World travel was a top priority, but as a recreational pilot, whenever he wasn’t traveling he took to the skies most Sunday mornings.
Breski is remembered as wise, witty, and sarcastic, and he will long be remembered by friends and family for his favorite character creation named "Colonel Boodizbee."
A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and brother, Breski is survived by his wife, Mary, (nee Cummings); daughter Ashley (Hugh McLaughlin), grandchildren Anna, Eloise, and Isla, sister Kate (Don Richardson). He was preceded in death by his parents, Jean and Joseph Breski, and an uncle, Ed Strum. 

Due to the pandemic, no memorial service is planned at this time; the family will notify loved ones regarding future plans. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorial donations made to Broadway Cares COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.

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Comments (5):

Heartbreaking. When I first got in the business Jim Breski gave me my passion for color, specifically Sapphire and Ruby.. He was the benchmark, the standard bearer for many in our industry, whose dedication to quality never wavered even as cheap goods flooded in in the 2000s. His factory/offices high above Lake Michigan were like visiting Neverland. Jim was a teacher, advisor and passionate advocate of quality gems…and made all of his clients and the trade much, much better. Wow, what a loss,.

By Bruce Freshley on Dec 15th, 2020 at 12:54pm

Dear Mary and Ashley ,  My Deepest Condolences on Jim’s passing . All of The Breski Family has always been very dear to me. May he Rest in Peace .  Larry

By Larry Moses on Dec 15th, 2020 at 2:59pm

I’m profoundly saddened by the passing of Jim. The void he leaves is devastating and unimaginable. I pray Jim’s family will feel the love we all feel thinking of the mark this humble legend has left on the industry. RIP, my dear friend.

By MMK on Dec 15th, 2020 at 6:48pm

Sending love to Mary and the family. Jim was one of my favorites. Great guy and always interested in all good things. Will be missed. Rest easy buddy. In our hearts forever.

By Chris Hartnett on Dec 17th, 2020 at 4:54pm

Dear Mary and Ashley and family,
Jim was a pioneer in the modern jewelry industry (who remembers Stein and Elbogen ? Schlueter and Haberkorn? )  and will never be forgotten amongst his peers. Don’t tell the masses but it was the women that stood behind him that made him blossom. Never a “pusher” but an ‘adviser’ of value and helped many to make a living with integrity and knowledge. He set the bar very high as an example to us all. RIP friend.

By J B Ziegler on Dec 19th, 2020 at 12:42am

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