Logan Square jeweler favored among celebs, athletes takes business to new heights

Family-owned store Torres Omar Jewelers has been in business for more than 40 years and recently launched its own line of jewelry.

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From left: Cynthia Martinez, Joey Torres, Norma Torres, Jose Torres Jr. and Crystal Torres at Torres Omar Jewelers on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023 in Chicago.

From left: Cynthia Martinez, Joey Torres, Norma Torres, Jose Torres Jr. and Crystal Torres at Torres Omar Jewelers.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Many of Chicago’s small businesses during the pandemic had to find new ways to bring in revenue and some like Torres Omar Jewelers in Logan Square found their answer online.

The retailer, known for its list of celebrity clients, placed special attention to its online business by building out its e-commerce site. And it adapted its business again in June, with the debut of a Torres Omar-branded line of jewelry that includes Italian Miami Cuban chains, pendants, bracelets and rings. Prices range from $100 up to $1,000 and can be found in-store and on its website.

When it comes to jewelry, few names are as trusted and respected in Chicago as Torres Omar Jewelers. The family-owned business recently celebrated its 43rd anniversary, and adapting to the times has played a critical role in its success, including during the pandemic.

“Going through COVID was eye-opening,” Marketing Director Joey Torres said. “It was a blessing in disguise because we really anchored down and took our e-commerce business really seriously. So we were able to get organized and generate revenue through there. We just brainstormed as a family to try to figure out different ways to make it happen.”

In 1980, Jose and Maria Torres opened Torres Jewelers in Lakeview after immigrating to Chicago from Guanajuato, Mexico. In 1994, the couple opened a second store in Logan Square, 2624 N. Milwaukee Ave., and kept its previous name, which was Omar Jewelers. It wasn’t until 2008 that they merged the two names together to Torres Omar Jewelers and handed over the reins to their son, Jose Torres Jr.

Jose Torres Jr.’s wife, Norma, married into the family business in 1989. She said her decision to work behind the scenes while Jose stayed as the face of the business was influenced by their children. It was more flexible for her to balance work and being a mom.

“I mean, honestly, as a mom, it’s like a dream come true to have your kids with you all of the time. Our kids graduated college and were doing very well in their careers but one by one, they started being interested in the business,” Norma Torres said.

“This block right here on Milwaukee used to have, like, seven jewelry stores, and eventually they’ve all closed because they didn’t keep up with the times. We were able to do that because the new generation came into the business and made us step up to the next level and stay in tune with everything.”

Max Mendoza polishes a custom jewelry piece on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023 at Torres Omar Jewelers in Logan Square.

Max Mendoza polishes a custom jewelry piece at Torres Omar Jewelers in Logan Square.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Norma and Jose Torres Jr. said their children — Joey, Cynthia and Crystal — have each brought something unique to the family business, whether it’s growing the company’s social media presence or helping it engage with the community. For example, Torres Omar Jewelers sponsors Little League baseball teams and local events as well as awards scholarships to undocumented students pursuing higher education.

If you spend a day at Torres Omar, you can expect to see everyone from couples looking for engagement rings to local musicians or artists picking up chains. Notable clients include boxing legend Julio César Chavez, Chicago streetwear designer Joe Freshgoods and Grammy-winning music artist The Weeknd.

“We have customers now that were the children and grandchildren of family members that used to buy from us,” Torres Jr. said. “We’re blessed because the community is the one that has kept us going for this long.”

The store celebrated its anniversary in June by hosting an intimate event at Floreria La Orquidea in Little Village. It was there that the family unveiled their new line and its spring/summer collection to the public.

“When we’ve had our anniversary events in the past, we usually do them in the West Loop or downtown,” Torres Jr. said. “One of the ideas I had, though, was to get back to our roots and have our 43rd anniversary in Little Village to show that there’s not only bad news there.”

When asked what he hopes people will remember about Torres Omar Jewelers, he kept it simple.

“Our legacy is about being family. It’s about showing love. It’s about helping people, and it’s about continuing to be part of the community.”

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