A gem on Jeweler’s Row: Hamilton Jewelry makes it special by hand

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

Along Wabash Avenue, between East Washington and East Monroe, sit 350 jewelers.

This two-block stretch of downtown is Jewelers Row, Chicago’s historic diamond district, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices. Still, Kailee Swift’s Hamilton Jewelry stands out, her store a cut above the rest.

With her store nestled in the art deco Mallers Building at 5 S. Wabash St., New Eastside resident Swift has been quietly burninishing her reputation—and wowing clients—for decades by custom designing perfectly personal pieces.

Swift has been creating custom jewelry since she opened Hamilton Jewelry in 1997. Despite the Internet bringing a fundamental change in how people shop, Swift has kept with her handmade, traditional approach. It has served her well.

Swift offers a personalized, full-service experience. Due to her location on Jewelers Row, she can easily connect with goldsmiths who work nearby.

“I have more control and can oversee the projects firsthand,” she said. “Also, there is no need to ship jobs or have a messenger as retail stores do. Everything stays right here, which saves time and money.”

The hunt for the perfect piece of jewelry can seem daunting.

“Everyone’s afraid they’re going to be ripped off,” Swift said, “so I want people to trust Hamilton.”

Kevin and Allison Carnahan are longtime clients of Swift’s.

“I first used Kailee for Allison’s engagement ring,” Kevin said. “When I got there, I knew next to nothing about diamonds or bands or how diamonds were set. Kailee was able to explain the different diamond characteristics to help me design the perfect ring.”

“We love working with Kailee,” Allison added. “She is patient and she produces beautiful customized jewelry that you are excited to show off.”

Besides custom designs, Swift can also help with repairs and appraisals and help customers find a specific vintage piece.

Swift loves educating customers on just about everything jewelry-related.

“People come in so nervous,” she said, “I try to keep them at ease, provide tons of education and help them relax.”

In addition to serving her regulars, Swift is a familiar face at holiday shows, trunk shows and charity events.

“I love to give back, and [fundraising] is something that I hold close to my heart,” she said.

“We pride ourselves on quality, exceptional value and service over a lifetime,” Swift said.

Visit the store online at hamiltonjewelryinc.com

5 S. Wabash, Suite 1310

(312) 704-0404

Owner and designer, Kailee Swift, at her store Hamilton Jewelry on Jewelers Row. Photo by Angela Gagnon

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group offers expert care and a friendly environment

By Elizabeth Czapski with North Michigan Avenue Dental Group


North Michigan Avenue Dental Group’s motto is simple: “We change lives by creating beautiful smiles.” The practice, run by Dr. Sanya Kirovski and Dr. Maryann Kelly, offers preventative, restorative, implant and cosmetic dental procedures in an office with large windows overlooking Michigan Avenue and the historic Water Tower.

The dental group’s core values are clinical excellence, outstanding customer service, and a pleasant patient experience. This has been the case since it was founded in the 1950s, Dr. Kirovski said. “When I took over the practice, I wanted to preserve the style of dentistry we had as well as implement new technologies and move forward,” she said. “We are highly talented and stay current with our knowledge about materials, techniques and technologies that help us diagnose and deliver the highest quality of care possible.”

The dentists at North Michigan Avenue Dental Group take a team approach to care, especially when it comes to restorative procedures. They work together with highly-skilled specialists to change the lives of patients for the better. “Restorative treatment in conjunction with orthodontics, periodontics and endodontics is a life-changing patient experience. The physical and emotional benefits of the restorative procedures dramatically improve patient’s self-confidence, which has a positive emotional impact on their lives,” Kirovski said.

When working with patients, Kirovski said, the goal is to evaluate the patient’s needs and use conservative treatments to preserve his or her own teeth as long as possible. From basic cleanings to full mouth restoration, “we want our patients to know that we are clinically excellent and provide quality materials, techniques and esthetic and functional results that will last. Also, we would like our patients to know we care for them, they trust us and know that we will help them make right decisions for long-term health,” she said.

Everyone who works in the practice ensures the office’s atmosphere is positive and friendly. “We have designed our dental space with an anxiety-free dental experience in mind.
The office is intimate, our team is friendly and the vibe is fun. We treat every one of our patients like friends and family and take time to explain treatment options and cost and to answer all questions,” Kirovski said.

“We spend a good part of our morning reviewing our entire day and discussing patients’ needs and desires,” said patient coordinator Katherine. “We strive to make patients’ visits as personable as they want.  In order to achieve that, from the moment they walk in, we are prepared to see them. I think it’s a very warm feeling to be part of our practice and makes the experience for our patients better. Not a lot of offices do that.”

Dental hygienist Kasia agreed. “My favorite part is making lasting relationships with my wonderful patients that come back for their dental visits,” she said. “It’s really exciting to them to see that you remembered, and it’s very personal—it’s not just another number, another patient. It’s a whole relationship.”

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group “Your smile is our inspiration”

845 N Michigan Ave, Suite #953W 312-337-3543
info@nmadental.com bestcosmeticdentistchicagoil.com

First dates in the digital age mean shutting down the phone

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

As times change so, too, does dating.

Chicago matchmaker and dating coach Stef Safra, who operates the dating company Stef and the City, said young people have more college debt than older generations. Some still live at home, and many young people work well into the evening. These factors affect dating today.  

The traditional weekday drinks or dinner for a first date has become more challenging because of cell phones—it’s hard for people to put them down and focus on the present, Safra said. “People with cell phones are still doing work. They haven’t detached themselves for a date during the week.”

She suggests people meet on the weekend for brunch when their minds are more relaxed, and she urges those about to embark on a first date to decompress for 20 minutes prior to the date.

Also, Safran pointed out, a first date dinner is a bad idea because if the date doesn’t go well, it could be a long and uncomfortable meal.

Safran also suggests treating the first date like an informal interview—don’t take it so seriously.

“It takes three dates for the person to get comfortable and think you’ll stick around,” she said. “It takes time for people to get comfortable with you and let down their guard.”

Even with the many dating apps that exist today, professional matchmaking services are still thriving because digital apps require time to navigate, and even then, matches may not pan out or, worse, the match could be a catfish scam.

“Matchmaking becomes much more necessary [now] and a lot of men actually ask for it, which is surprising because men don’t always like to ask for directions,” she said.

To find out more about Safran’s services, visit stefandthecity.com

Single this Valentine’s Day? Focus on yourself

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day can be a bummer for single people.

While some are content flying solo, for those who are not happily alone, the holiday can provoke anxiety and loneliness as friends post photos of roses, sweets and dinner plans on social media. But it all comes down to perspective.


Relationship expert, Sara Haynes advises singles to see Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate all kinds of love, not just romantic love.

Self love is also important. “[Think] about yourself and what you love about yourself. [Use] it as the time to reflect on you, and celebrate you as a person,” Haynes said.

It’s important to treat yourself with compassion on Valentine’s Day, as well as every day, Haynes said.

”“Really lean into the hard feelings of what it’s like to be single. It’s definitely not always easy, especially if you’re at a certain stage in your life where you thought you would be somewhere else. … Say, ‘Yeah, this kind of sucks, but I am here right now and I want to focus on what is present in my life.’”

Sue De Santo, a relationship coach and licensed clinical social worker, believes loving who you are is vital. “Before we can be in [a] relationship we have to really focus on, ‘What is it that I want [and] need in my life, and what do I enjoy?’” she said.

Valentine’s Day can be a good opportunity to hone in on what your interests are. In short, do something you like.

Buy yourself flowers or make yourself a nice breakfast, De Santo said, and focus on “developing a relationship with yourself.”

“We have to give to ourselves first so that we are open to receiving that [love] from another person,” she said. “Really [allow] yourself to receive that love we say we want.”

GEMS students get lessons in fashion, music and literature

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Sixth graders strutted their stuff on Jan. 17 at the annual GEMS World Academy fashion show.

The show is in its fifth year. The students wrote music and then designed a clothing ensemble and wrote a poem based on that music.

The interdisciplinary exercise was the brainchild of Elysia Sheehan, the school’s art and design teacher. The project is a fun way to kick off the school year and it also combines several subjects into a participatory, interactive learning assignment.

“It started from a conversation I had with a new student in our first year while we were doing some team building activities during the first week of school,” she explained. “She was expressing that at the time she felt more nervous than excited about starting at a new school. We began talking about what we could do to help ease her transition into GEMS and about the things she enjoys most. She spoke about how much she enjoys drawing and making fashion designs. The whole idea evolved from there with input from students and teachers who were excited to build out our curriculum for the year.”

The project starts with a design. This year, students had to pick a genre of music and design an outfit that would represent that. To build their wardrobe, students are given $10 and taken to a thrift store.

“Students learn to sew, have weekly visits with a fashion designer, keep a process journal to document their personal growth and goals, and build on their foundation for constructing fashion,” said Sheehan.

Besides designing and sewing original clothing, the students also got a musical education. Music teacher Chris Roebuck and language and literature teacher Melissa Cuclich helped students discover new genres of music and understand poetry, respectively.

“In previous years, their fashions have reflected technology, humanities inquiries, science, et cetera,” said Sheehan. “After designing the garments, the students model them on the ‘runway’ during a fashion show event in our gym.”

Parents, teachers and other students packed the place in support of the sixth graders who walked, strutted and, in one case, skateboarded down the aisle.

GEMS sixth grade student Max Robertson skates his way down the runway for a fashion show in January. Photo by Jesse Wright

GEMS World Academy is a private school in the New Eastside. To find out more about the school, visit them online at gemsworldacademy-chicago.com.

Mister Rogers documentary to air on PBS in February

Staff reports

(Published Jan. 16)

Fans of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood will get a treat Feb. 9.

That Saturday, WTTW11, Chicago’s public broadcasting station, will air “Won’t you be my Neighbor,” a hit documentary film about Fred Rogers, the host of the hit childrens television show.

The film highlights Rogers’ pioneering contributions to public television and children’s programming, namely promoting kindness and tolerance. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year and has been nominated for numerous awards.

 The show aired on PBS stations around the country for decades and generations of adults watched the show as kids.

Fashion design classes offer creative fun for kids

By Angela Gagnon, Staff Writer

Children in downtown Chicago have an opportunity to channel their artistic, creative energy while learning from a fashion professional.

New Eastside resident Michelle Kim, a fashion designer, has been offering design classes to kids since July 2018. Kim is the founder of Mizel Jewelry and holds a masters degree in fashion design from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Parents said the classes encourage their kids to be creative and to develop ideas, while Kim said the classes inspire her, too. “Teaching these classes is very inspirational for me because I am a designer myself, and the kids often think of things adults don’t, like a unique color combination or pattern,” Kim said.

The classes, geared toward children as young as first grade, are held every other weekend in the New Eastside and typically follow a seasonal theme. Kim has introduced embroidery, fabric embellishment, collaging, beading, sewing and knitting since she began teaching the classes.

Her students have worked on hair accessories, backpacks, shoes, jewelry, clothing and lunch boxes and used various kid-friendly materials to create unique and personalized designs.

Kim will lead a winter class focused on cold weather items such as berets and sweatshirts. Students will work with material like faux fur and pom-poms along with fabric paints, felt, sequins and fake gems.

New Eastside mom Michelle Johnston said her 6-year-old daughter, Dilly, has gone to seven or eight ofand the design classes, and her daughter loves getting creative. “Dilly was so proud of her creations and Michelle was always so encouraging and complimented them on their designs,.” Johnston said.

Kim stresses that “perfect is not creative” and that the kids should “relax and have fun.” Once the drawing is complete, they embellish or decorate it with the materials to make their image come alive. “Dilly loved having access to all these wonderful tools, ribbons, jewels, fabrics at her fingertips,” Johnston said. “She learned a new skill each week and it was wearable art… shoes, t-shirt, hat, backpack and was personalized.”

Kim also puts together themed events for adults around holidays or special occasions. Plans are in the works for a Valentine’s Day “Moms’ Night Out” in which neighborhood moms can work with Kim to make something for their kids.

For more information about themes and price, visit https://www.mizelkids.com.

[Designer Michelle Kim teaches neighborhood kids the finer points of fashion at one of her design courses for kids. Photo by Angela Gagnon]

Stellar astronomical events in 2019


By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Look, up in the sky—it’s a bird, it’s a plane it’s … something you might never see again!

And it’s coming this year to a night sky near you.

Michelle Nichols, Director of Public Observing at the Adler Planetarium, offered some insight on what astronomical events to be on the lookout for in 2019. Here are the astronomical events that have significant importance to earthlings.

·      Dec. 31–January: New Horizons Spacecraft flyby of Ultima Thule, a Kuiper Belt object. Pictures will be visible from NASA.

·      Jan. 3: China’s Chang’e 4 lander/rover lands on the far side of the moon to study its surface and subsurface.

·      Jan. 3–4: Quadrantid Meteor Shower, visible without moonlight interference. Head to a dark place to view.

·      Jan. 17: SpaceX uncrewed test of its future commercial crewed Dragon spacecraft.

·      Jan. 20: Lunar eclipse, visible from 9:30 p.m.-1 a.m.

·      Jan. 20–26: Venus and Jupiter are close together and visible. Observable right before sunrise in the east. Jupiter is slightly less dim.

·      Feb. 17–19: Venus and Saturn are close together and visible. Observable right before sunrise in the east. Saturn is slightly less dim.

·      March: Boeing uncrewed test for the future crewed Starliner spacecraft.

·      May 6–7: Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower, visible with little moon interference. Head to a dark place to view.

·      June: SpaceX crewed test of Dragon spacecraft.

·      August: Boeing crewed test flight of Starliner spacecraft.

·      Aug. 12–13: Perseid Meteor Shower, the light from the moon will interfere, but could still be visible in a dark place.

·      Nov. 11: Transit of Mercury between the earth and the sun. For safe viewing, head to the Adler to view on telescopes with sun filters.

·      Dec. 13–14: Geminid Meteor Shower, the light from the moon will interfere, but could still be visible in a dark place.

·      Throughout 2019: Parker Solar Probe will pass the sun a couple times and send information back to Earth about the sun’s atmosphere.

·      Throughout 2019: Juno Spacecraft orbits around Jupiter and sends information back to Earth.  

For more information about these or other astronomical events, visit the Adler Planetarium at 1300 Lake Shore Drive or their website, www.adlerplanetarium.org.

The best places to see and be seen with Santa in Chicago

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

Adults may dream of a white Christmas, but for many kids, the holiday evokes another color altogether as a trip to see the old man in red is almost compulsory. Luckily, children in and around the downtown area have plenty of options:

Water Tower Place

The shopping’s never been better at Water Tower Place, a Mag Mile institution, and this year just as in years past, Santa will be around to meet with kids and pets. Reservations are encouraged to avoid a wait and there are various theme nights—like pajama night—so be sure to scroll through the options to get the perfect fit. To find the best night for your schedule and to make a reservation, check www.celebrateyourholiday.com

The Driehaus Museum

This popular destination has added Sunday dates for Santa. Kids under 2 are free, tickets for kids up to 12 are $15 and adult tickets are $20. The tickets include activities like sing-a-longs, story times and family fun. Anyone interested should get tickets as soon as possible, as several dates have already sold out. For more information, check the museum website at http://driehausmuseum.org

Soldier Field Breakfast with Santa

For a full morning with the big man, why not sign up for breakfast with Santa at Soldier Field on Dec. 8? Adult tickets are $50, $25 for kids ages 4-12 and free for younger kids. The tickets include a train display, an ornament contest and a cookie decorating area for children. This event includes a toy drive, so be sure and bring a new, unopened gift for a child in need. For more information, call (312) 235-7063 or email SoldierFieldBistro@aramark.com

Shedd Aquarium Breakfast with Santa

The Shedd Aquarium is offering a full morning of fun with Santa every weekend leading up to Christmas. Ticket prices vary for members and non-members, but the event includes breakfast, crafts, a Polar Express train ride and parade, an aquatic presentation and more. For more information, visit www.sheddaquarium.org/

Macy’s State Street Santa Events

Breakfast no good? Well, Macy’s has the solution for parents who want more options. The State Street department store is offering breakfast, lunch and/or dinner to folks who need some variety in scheduling time to visit Father Christmas. The events run through the month. For more information, visit http://macysrestaurants.com

Skate with Santa at Maggie Daley Park

Anyone who wants to get the kids out and about could do worse than this free opportunity to get the kids out on the ice with Santa at Maggie Daley Park in the heart of the New Eastside. On Dec. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon, kids can lace up and hold hands with the jolly red elf. For more information, visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com

Swissotel’s Santa Suite

The hotel admits their newly-renovated Santa Suite is over the top, so expect to be wowed on the 41st floor by sights, sounds and decorations. The suite is open through Dec. 23 and tickets begin at $15 for individuals, and family packs can be had for $40. For more information, visit www.swissotel.com

Other places to find Santa

If you still can’t get enough Santa, follow the merry fellow as he travels through Chicagoland and beyond. This month, Santa will be visiting a number of nearby suburbs, and families can visit him in a variety of places. For more information, check out www.santainchicago.com

Cloud Gate choirs set the soundtrack to the season

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

The Christmas season means cold weather, good family, friends, warm wishes and…music.

No matter the age, the political bent or, heck, even the religious beliefs of so many people, classic Christmas songs like “Silent Night” and “White Christmas” still strike a chord. In Chicago, these songs—as well as more modern fare—are best heard by the Bean, or Cloud Gate, in Millennium Park as part of the city’s annual Caroling at Cloud Gate program.

“I would just say Chicago is a fabulous city with so many fantastic artistic opportunities,” said Kayleigh Dudevoir. “Just go. It’s really fun to introduce yourself to music that’s less accessible and to learn more about what the city has to offer.”

Dudevoir should know—she is the executive director of the Chicago Chamber Choir, the group slated to perform at Cloud Gate Dec. 7. She offered a peek behind the scenes of the choir circuit, and she said her choir has been busy preparing for months. “Usually our official season begins in October, but we get Christmas requests as soon as mid-November,” she said.

This month at Cloud Gate, Dudevoir said guests can expect to hear a mix of Christmas music.

“Some traditional Christmas carols like ‘Silent Night,’ ‘Deck the Halls’ and so on, as well as Christmas-themed but not traditional carols” will be sung in the park, she said.

Dudevoir said the choir has been performing at Cloud Gate for several years—it’s her sixth season with the group—and she said it’s always enjoyable for the choir and for the attendees. “We’ve done a number of performances there and there are always lots of children,” she said.

Guests will bring hot chocolate to sip while they listen and, Dudevoir said, if it’s not too terribly cold, the choir tries to wear festive sweaters, so it’s not so formal.

The city invites folks to hear some of the best choirs in the city perform Christmas carols for free at Cloud Gate.

The Chicago Chamber Choir will kick off the December Cloud Gate events on Dec. 7. All performances begin at 6 p.m. and wrap up by 7 p.m. Admission is free. The other performances will be Dec. 12 and Dec. 14 at the same times. To check out the Chicago Chamber Choir, its website, www.chicagochamberchoir.org/season, includes all upcoming dates.

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