Exquisite Nevada-made jewelry on the Loneliest Road in America

Duane and Jeanne Cooley have an enviable problem. For 22 years, they have owned Jason’s Art Gallery in Austin, selling high-end, hand-crafted jewelry. Using mostly local stones, Duane creates gorgeous pendants, earrings, bracelets, and more, while Jeanne tends the store that sits on Austin’s main drag, a.k.a. Highway 50. 

The trouble is, the jewelry is so exquisite and reasonably priced that the couple is busier than they’ve ever been. 

“We were hoping to have this problem back when we were younger,” Jeanne says, smiling. “We are crazy busy!” 

The couple doesn’t have an online store, but whether through word-of-mouth or previous visitors, their phone rings off the hook with requests for Duane’s creations. During the summer months, the store can see hundreds of people a day perusing the massive selection of turquoise, chrysocolla, jasper, and other precious stones laid out in the welcoming shop. Row upon row of gleaming pieces beg inspection, but don’t forget to look around and see the fun and funky artwork on the walls, too. 

Duane learned to cut turquoise from his uncle when he was 14. He had a friend who knew about jewelry making, who taught him to cut stones and also taught him about silversmithing. Working as a miner in Round Mountain, he’d make items from home, and when he moved back to Austin, he and Jeanne opened the store that bears their son’s name. 

“We’re trying to hold out till the kids are a little older, then Jason can come take over. But I’m about ready to tap out,” he says with a wink. 

In the meantime, he’s teaching his grandson to make jewelry, and he and Jeanne might start thinking about retiring one day. The couple love their 1870-built home—Duane’s grandmother’s house—which they’ve completely redone over the last 12 years, and they love Austin. 

“We love everything about it,” Jeanne says. “You can be with people if you want, or alone if you want. We like camping, fishing, hunting, and we’ve got plenty of space to get away to right around here.” 

The only other business in Austin that’s been around as long is the gas station. Next time you’re on Highway 50, after you fuel up, make sure to stop by and grab a truly authentic Nevada souvenir.

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