Rege and Teri Vogan run a jewelry business, but think of themselves as specialists who craft, clean, repair and restore treasures.
"Every piece of jewelry is an event in someone's life," say the Vogans, who own Vogan Jewelry and Engraving in the Bon Shopping Center north of downtown Colorado Springs.
The Vogans polish, recast and customize silver, gold and platinum that has been passed down through generations or given out for graduation. Some pieces have been recovered from fires or slammed in car doors. Or, in the case of their latest project, won at the Olympics.
In December, Teri Vogan polished and cleaned Tara Lipinski's historic Olympic gold medal. Lipinski, who is working as a figure skating analyst and correspondent for NBC, won the medal in 1998 at age 15. She holds the title of youngest individual gold medalist in Olympic Winter Games history.
"It's a pretty big chunk of history," Rege Vogan said of the medal.
The medal has been on loan to the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs for more than a decade. It has left the museum once, to be used during Lipinski's induction into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, and she's visited it on occasion, said museum archivist Karen Cover.
Rege Vogan said the medal needed to be cleaned because the finish had oxidized, a natural process that dulls the medal's golden shine.
"It's not just something you can wipe off with a rag," Rege Vogan said.
While it's the first gold medal the Vogans have polished, it's not the first time they've done work for the Olympics. The Colorado Springs jewelers have established a reputation with U.S. Figure Skating by creating the Harry E. Radix Memorial Skate Pins for the better part of a decade, which Rege Vogan described as the "Super Bowl rings of skating."
A Radix pin is a gold lapel pin in the shape of an ice skate's blade. Radix pins awarded to gold medalists are studded with diamonds.
Radix was chairman of the executive committee of U.S. Figure Skating from 1935 to 1965. Since the 1960s, Radix pins have been given to figure skaters who have medaled at the World and U.S. National figure skating championships and also at the Olympics.
This year, the Vogans made 110 of the miniature engraved blades, each one cut and crafted from delicate sheets of gold.
The pins hold more sentimental than monetary value, like much of the gold and silver that passes through the Vogans' polish-stained hands.
Last year they were handed a silver tray recovered from the Waldo Canyon fire. The neighbor of a fire victim found the tray in the rubble, took it home and polished it, then passed it off to another neighbor who polished it a bit more. It was then handed to another neighbor, and before it made its way back to its owner, the tray came to Rege Vogan, who engraved it with the words, "I survived the Waldo Canyon Fire."
Their work on so many personal, hands-on projects is why the Vogans consider themselves blue-collar jewelers, and for them, jewelry is a family business.
"It's very much like my dad did it," said Teri Vogan, who works at the century-old wooden bench her father used when he owned Megel's Jewelry, which opened in Colorado Springs in 1949 on Pikes Peak Avenue.
One of her daughters also is in the business, working as a diamond setter at Jared.
While the Vogans consider themselves blue-collar jewelers, their work on Lipinski's medal will be on display for the world to see at the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame and their highly prized Radix pins go to figure skaters all over the world.
"I love making every single one," Teri Vogan said.
"I can't imagine doing anything else."