Industry / Retail

Maui Jeweler Helps Restore Wildfire-Damaged Jewelry


Omi Chamdi is giving back to his Maui neighbors with a jewelry rehabilitation effort, saving sentimental pieces damaged in the Hawaiian island’s massive wildfires and returning them in pristine shape to their thankful owners.

Chamdi, owner of No Ka ‘Oi Jewelers in Kahului, has been working with industry partners to restore, at no charge, fire-damaged jewelry that people bring in to him. Because his business was spared, Chamdi wanted to help those who weren’t so fortunate—through cleaning and repairing their valued jewelry. He’d heard about a California jeweler who did something similar for local residents after the 2018 Camp wildfire.

“It was something that I was able to do because I’ve been in the industry for so many years and I have so many contacts with jewelers,” Chamdi says. “These are my industry colleagues, and I’m grateful.”

Ring before

ring after
Before-and-after photos of a gold ring damaged in the Maui wildfires that was brought to No Ka ‘Oi Jewelers for free restoration. 

Maui is still recovering from last August’s wildfires—the United States’ deadliest in more than a century—which killed 100 people and destroyed homes and businesses in the areas of Lahaina, Kula, Ka’anapali, and Pulehu.

“I put a post out on my Facebook page, telling people that after the fires if they recovered their jewelry, I would restore it for free. It is such a gift to be able to give something to people who have lost everything,” Chamdi says.

Chamdi says the jewelers who are doing the work for him offer their services for free or a reduced fee, and he is covering all of the costs out of pocket for Maui residents. So far they have fixed more than 150 pieces of jewelry and received another 300 that need repair or restoration.

“Imagine losing everything that means something to you. When you go back to your home, what do you look for? You look for these special heirloom pieces—your engagement ring, your inherited pieces. To be able to find them is a miracle in and of itself,” says Chamdi.

Certain jewels are irreplaceable to their owners because of the memories and stories attached to them. Chamdi hopes his restoration effort might accelerate people’s healing from the traumatic experience of the fires.

Romo before

Romo after
Shelly Romo’s ring as it was found (top) in her fire-destroyed home and (bottom) following the cleaning by Omi Chamdi and his jeweler partners.

One person he’s helped was Shelly Romo, who told the local NPR station that her wedding ring symbolized her family’s life on Maui and she was grateful to have it back in its full glory thanks to Chamdi and No Ka ‘Oi Jewelers. Last fall Romo had spent hours with volunteers searching the remains of her Maui home for the ring—which they found with the diamond relatively unharmed but the band blackened and almost unrecognizable. Chamdi and his team cleaned it.

In another case, Chamdi and partners restored what was left of a traditional money chain, which had been passed down in a family for five generations. One woman brought in a zipper buckle, the only thing left from her beloved Chanel bag, and Chamdi polished it and put it on a chain for her to wear.

“It changes their whole attitude of life. These are pieces they want to pass on, and now they can continue that tradition,” Chamdi says. “It stays in their family, and that has even more meaning now. What was lost is now found and restored.”

He says he’s been honored by people’s appreciation. “There’s been a huge response from the community, and the love and support for what we are doing just keeps pouring in,” Chamdi says. “It’s been an incredible journey.”

Top: Omi Chamdi of No Ka ‘Oi Jewelers is repairing jewelry damaged in the Maui wildfires for people in his community as a free service and says the effort has been heartwarming for everyone involved. (Photos courtesy of Omi Chamdi)

Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine
Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

Log Out

Are you sure you want to log out?

CancelLog out