What?! Don’t you live/work in SF? Well, yes…I do. I am a Bay Area native. I work in San Francisco many days a week, and I lived in Pacific Heights for a few years as well. (I currently live 15 miles south of the city.) But don’t you find that when you live somewhere, you often don’t take the time to visit all the cool, local places as opposed to when you’re visiting somewhere new? Heck, I know SF born and bred people who have never been to Alcatraz or walked the Golden Gate Bridge, but I know all my friends who’ve visited from abroad have done these things!
This was the impetus for Friday’s field trip, with my fabulous co-hort, Jennifer Bressie. There were a few jewelry stores in areas of SF we don’t often frequent which have been on our “must see” list. So we both cleared our schedule for the day to check them out. Jen was the driver, and I was the the direction girl…(Jen probably should have been worried when I had my directions scrawled on a piece of paper, instead of using Google maps on my phone!)
Our first stop was going to be D & H Sustainable Jewelers in the Castro. Now I know that directions aren’t my strong suit, but the streets in the area where Noe and Market (and others?) meet are so catywompus, that we found ourselves stuck behind this trolley, at a dead stop. (Please note the “Dead End” sign to the right. It’s true, signs don’t lie.) Oops! Let’s do a “creative” U-turn. Perfect. Did I mention I’m not the best navigator?!
But it was all worth it, and Jen’s superb driving skills got us to our destination. In a matter of about 10 minutes, I knew that I wanted Shawn Higgins, half of the duo behind D & H Sustainable Jewelers, as a new best friend. His humor, expertise, and openness are infectious.
This store is among the first that will be SCS certified, meaning that 100% of their products are ethically sourced and sustainable. What a fabulous feat! They sell their own designs, as well as representing many other jewelry designers. It’s clear that bridal is a huge category for them. Being the magpie that I am, I went straight for the bling-iest ring in the case, featuring a flawless yellow canary diamond. (This is one of their own designs.)
Another one of their amazing pieces is this cage pendant, which took over a year to make, to get it just right. It’s made of sterling silver and 14K gold, and housed an incredible Alexander the Great coin, dating back 2500 years. Adore.
You can open it up, and really put whatever sort of talisman you’d like inside.
I also thought this necklace, made from a re-purposed 1910 Edwardian lingerie pin was quite fantastic.
If you’re looking for a supremely unique wedding ring for your guy, then check out this Gibeon meteorite set in rose gold by Lashbrooke!
After briefly meeting Lindsay (the other partner), we had to run. Lunch was most definitely next on the agenda, and you can’t go wrong with the croque monsieur (for me) or the burger sans bun (for Jen–she’s so good!) at Absinthe in Hayes Valley.
With our appetites sufficiently satisfied, were were off to Metier. You may be familiar with this store. They spent 5 years on Maiden Lane (Union Square), 16 years on Sutter (where they were a large clothing and jewelry boutique), and then a year in the Shreve building, before moving to this new location on Laguna. This jewel-box of a boutique offers both vintage/antique jewelry as well as merchandise from current designers. The more carefully you look, the more you see. The owners, Sheri Evans and Trina Papini, have an impeccable eye, so the collection is curated to perfection. During our visit, the place was hopping with customers!
I couldn’t resist trying on these Georgian rings, which are from the late 1700’s-early 1800’s. Amazeballs.
Or what about one of these silver bracelets, from Victorian to Arts & Crafts? So easy to mix with current outfits!
One of the current designers they carry is Arielle de Pinto, who weaves magic with metal. The ombre finish on this necklace is just perfect.
Loved seeing Sheri and Trina, and I’ll certainly be back soon.
Our last stop of the day was in the Mission. Love & Luxe is an amazing jewelry gallery and atelier owned by artist-in-residence, Betsy Barron. She shows her own work and also showcases 40+ other hand-crafted lines in her spacious store. As luck would have it, she came to the store during our visit. Yay!
First checking out Betsy’s line, I couldn’t help but try on a few rings.
Jen was in love with this rose gold locket from 1870. She is a total rose gold girl!
I definitely have always had a thing for turquoise, and this vintage-inspired design with Sleeping Beauty turquoise by Chris Neff made me smile.
Definitely one of the most unique lines I’ve ever seen is James Banks, which is a collaboration between Adam Schulman and Heidi Nahser-Fink. Here is their necklace called “Lightkeeper.” On one necklace, there is a glass bulb filled with black diamonds and one ruby. Then on the other necklace are the “tools” you can use to open the bulb to add/change whatever you want inside. Have you ever seen something like this?!
Even the box it comes in is exquisite.
There was also a lovely selection of work by Johnny Ninos. His current collection is inspired by barnacles, as shown in these rings. Organic beauty, no doubt.
Jen had to take one more look at that locket before we had to leave and get back on the road…
I can’t think of a better way to spend the day–with a life-long friend (We actually went to kindergarten together!) looking at gorgeous jewelry! Thanks to all of you for your time, knowledge and kindness!
There are opal rings, and then there are opalrings. This one, by Omi Prive, recently won both the Grand Prize in the JCK Jewlers’ Choice Awards (for best ring design over $10K) andW Magazine Readers’ Choice Award.
The huge center opal, a 4.33 carat Lightning Ridge black opal, is surrounded by .46 carats of trillion green tsavorite garnets and .24 carats of blue sapphires. In addition, there are .46 carats of brilliant round diamonds in the 18K gold shank. Even better, this beauty was made by hand right here in the USA in Los Angeles.
“We are honored to win the Grand Prize award; it is very meaningful to me, as jewelry retailers are the ones that voted on our piece!” says Niveet Nagpal, President and Designer of Omi Privé. “My passion lies in color, and I am especially pleased with the way the colors come together in this ring. I am excited and honored that it has been recognized amongst so many beautiful entries.”
Since this company launched in 2012, they have consistently been represented in the JCK Jewelers’ Choice Awards — bravo! Personally, I cannot wait to see it in person at the Couture Show in Vegas coming up this season.
In my next lifetime, I’m going to be an interior designer — I’m obsessed with creating the perfect home environment, and I pour over all the decor magazines each month. I was so intrigued with Moen’s ad campaign that featured statement necklaces made from the parts of their new faucet collection. (In fact, I saw the ad in a magazine while on a plane to the jewelry shows in Las Vegas.)
Who would have known, but just a couple days later while walking through the aisles of JCK, there was the ad! And even better, I was able to meet the talented Seattle-based designer of the necklace in person, Gina Pankowski!
I thought it was so interesting to watch her video about how she came up with the necklace concept.
Gina has a truly distinct look to her collection, which is inspired by “organic architecture,” such as the planetary orbits and the human spine. Each hand-fabricated piece is kinetic and moves with the body. Take, for example, her Lattis Burst necklace. Gorgeous, right?
I can see how Gina’s past as a sculptor influences her work. These earrings are truly small sculptures for your ears.
Even her variation on a stud earring goes beyond the norm…in a very good way!
The construction of this bracelet is so unique, that it doesn’t even need a clasp. (Plus, you know I’m a softie for mixed metals!)
Gina takes the ordinary hoop earring to a new level, with her Vertebrae hoops.
Along with the 100% recycled metals she uses, Gina also incorporates color in some of her pieces, as shown in this rose quartz ring. I adore the setting — so unique!
In addition to her online shop, you can also see her line in person at various shops in the United States — click here for a list. Enjoy!
Just over three months ago, Warren Cheng and Artem K launched a new product-based design company called WXA100. I must say, they have a very unique business model. They are delving deep into one project at a time, and they will release exactly 100 of these products for each run. For their first project, Dimens1on, they designed a very sculptural necklace, which comes with either a horizontal or vertical pendant.
The pendant is made from white resin (reminding us of a Canadian snowstorm) and repurposed walnut, on a rose-gold fill chain. Its minimalist design is very purposeful, “All unnecessary elements have been stripped away, leaving only what is truly needed. By removing the extra unnecessary aspects, you are able to see the true beauty of the design without any distractions.”
Arriving in beautiful wool felt packaging with a type-written certificate of authenticity, I was quick to play with different ways to layer it with other necklaces.
While not all of their projects will be jewelry, they do have three jewelry pieces planned in the next year. The next object they will be releasing is a series of hand-stitched notebooks with unique covers produced with a “marbling” technique. Other projects include a blanket and a bracelet. I’m very intrigued to see what this duo will be creating! If your interest is piqued as well, I encourage you to check out their blog too. I really enjoy their “weekly photos.”
Tura Sugden’s designs have been on my mind since I first saw her collection last fall at the WJA Designers by the Bay event. Since she’s a local designer here in San Francisco, I decided to invite myself to her studio in Noe Valley for a visit. She’s so kind, and she was more than happy to show me around.
There’s nothing like seeing an artist’s bench and trays of gems just waiting to be tried on!
I asked Tura how she got started in the jewelry business, and here’s her reply:
“I studied fine art and graduated with a BFA in sculpture. During school I was always very fabrication-focused; I loved the process of making an object. I was most comfortable working on a small scale and my work had a very natural progression towards jewelry. I started a traditional jewelry apprenticeship in my last year of college, and I continued working for jewelers for seven years. I developed my line while apprenticing and just last year I went full time with it.”
I am SO not surprised how this new line has been steadily growing in popularity. (This girl is going places!) I find it truly unique, and I love the cage-like settings around diamond slices.
She has mentioned that she uses a German blow torch, and I asked her to explain what this is:
“This type of torch changed my life! It feels so intuitive and natural to me. It incorporates the power of breath to supply oxygen and a gas (I use propane), which is controlled by a hand-adjusted valve. You’re using your breath and your hands together to control heat, which makes it easier to solder pieces that might otherwise become easily overheated. It’s a deeply traditional way of soldering that is no longer widely used – many jewelers I talk to have never heard of it!”
I can only imagine all the hard work that goes into designing and making a jewelry line. I asked her what her favorite part of it all is, and she told me, “I am in love with executing a project. Most of my work is one-of-a-kind, so each piece I produce presents new challenges. It never gets boring and it allows me a freedom with my work that I’m really grateful for.”
I wanted to know what her current favorite piece is:
“A few weeks ago I produced a new cuff that is my ultimate favorite every day piece. The Needle Eye Cuff incorporates a design motif I’ve been using in my work and is the most luxe weight. It’s a really streamlined piece and I’m proud of the engineering of it— it features an invisible clasp and a fantastic fit, and I love how it stacks with other bracelets and bangles. I’m about to produce it in multiple sizes!”
I must admit, I love it too!
Since she’s a local, I decided to ask some flash questions as well, as I’m always looking for hot tips!
Favorite SF restaurant
La Ciccia or Locanda, I can’t pick!
Favorite SF store
ZGO – I’m a scent junkie
Favorite thing to do when you’re not working
Cooking is my favorite way to unwind after work. Second favorite is eating!
Clothing item you can’t live without
A cashmere sweater!! I have one on me at all times.
Dream travel destination
I can’t wait to get to Bali…
I have to say, I truly enjoyed getting an inside look at Tura’s work and life. Thanks so much for having me! If you’re interested in seeing her line, click here for a list of stockists.
Some days my schedule works out effortlessly, and Monday was one of those days. Even though I went to SOMA to pack a client for a month of travel in the morning, met a colleague for lunch in the Marina in SF, and had another client in Marin later in the day, I still found myself with a whole free hour! And not only was this a lovely gift in itself, but my break just happened to be right near Blanc, a store which had been on my “must visit” list for quite some time– in fact ever I learned they carry Thalia Jewelry. (You may remember I wrote about seeing her line at the WJA Designers by the Bay event last fall.)
When I walked in, I couldn’t believe it, but there was Ashley Morgan, another jewelry designer extraordinaire! (Click here if you missed my article about her.) Universes colliding!
Thalia Jewelry was beautifully displayed in a big case when you walk in the store. I can never get enough of her bracelets with pave diamond clasps! And I love how the rings and cross were artfully sitting on an old book. That completely fits the old world luxe aesthetic of the line.
Ashely’s gems were showcased at the opposite end of the table, and her rings gave me complete jewelry envy. (btw, I can’t believe I didn’t snap a photo of Ashley, as the earrings she was wearing were to die for!!)
There were definitely some new designers for me as well. The ombre on this multi-chain bracelet by Daniele Basta is a little bit rocker and a little bit boho at the same time. I seriously have a thing for Italian design! And Italian food…and Italian men…I’m seeing a theme here…hmmm
These chunky rings by Lee Brennan Design have a similar vibe, and they blend perfectly with the clothing sold at the store — edgy leather jackets, shoes from Calleen Cordero, and many European designs, just to mention a few.
I was also taken with these mixed metal bracelets by Bash Jewelry (hand made in New Mexico). They have such a great weight to them!
Natalie Hicks, daughter of the store’s owner, Nancy, also has a line at the store — Justine Alexandra. She has some great pave diamond pieces, including a bangle with polki diamonds. Beautiful!
I thoroughly enjoyed whiling away my break trying on jewelry, and I know I’ll be back!
Thanks for the great response to my “Observations on Portland” article — so fun! And as I promised, here’s the follow-up post with the jewelry lo-down from the ‘hood. As I mentioned, one of the reasons I went there was to visit Twist. (This store is up in the 23rd Ave. area.) I’ve ordered from them online before, and I was so psyched to see the store in person. Not only was it much bigger than I had envisioned, but they carry items for the home as well. Who knew? The first case that magnetized me was filled with work by Judy Geib. This opal bracelet left me speechless. (There are so many times I wish I had a bottomless wallet…)
I was also fascinated with these crystal lockets from Loquet London. You can select from a vast variety of charms to put inside. Such a darling take on the charm theme!
These lovely studs by Suzanne Kalan with a black diamond halo “sparkled” my attention as well.
Oh, and you can’t help but be intrigued by the signage and light when leaving the store!
Only a couple blocks away on 23rd Ave., I visited Gilt. They specialize in both vintage and antique fine jewelry (on the main floor), and vintage costume jewelry and new items from local designers up on the second floor. It was brimming with customers, and I was told that Sundays are a BIG day for engagement ring shopping. (I’m always learning something new!) Given Portland’s eco-conscious attitude, I’m not surprised that vintage rings are a hot commodity. They have a very clever color-coded box system, and the color of box tells you what metal the ring is set in. Here’s a (very small) sampling of their fabulous selection.
They have a large collection of lockets and Native American jewelry as well.
I did make a little purchase here. It’s a necklace by Amira (a Portland artisan), made of woven nylon thread, glass beads, and brass. It definitely appeals to the boho girl in my soul, and I like the mixed metals. And I just haaad to take home some sort of souvenir, right?!
Walking back towards my hotel downtown, I stopped at Frances May on SW Washington St. They carry some of my favorite clothing designers, and they have a well-edited selection of modern jewelry as well. I liked this large statement necklace by Erin Considine.
During my exploration of the east side, I went to Altar, as recommended by my fashionable bartendress, Emily, from the previous evening. I may have missed this had I not been chatting with her. This establishment features “northwest alternative handmade” items, and it’s definitely worth a stop. This organic wall display of necklaces was awesome!
It turns out that the designer of this line (called Iron Oxide Designs) is Amy Fox, and she is part-owner of the store and was manning the front desk that day. Cool!
These necklaces by Fox Tail Jewelry are very industrial boho, and they fit in perfectly with the Portland aesthetic.
I unfortunately failed to note the designer of these tassel necklaces, but I love them!
While I tried to really pack in my shopping time during my two-day stay in Portland (and I certainly saw a lot!), these were my jewelry highlights. As you can see, there’s a real range in offerings. To be honest, I found more diversity in the jewelry than I did in fashion. Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour! And please let me know if you have a favorite spot to shop there as well. I always love hearing from you.
No, this isn’t a jewelry post…but it’s leading UP to one (here it is), so stay with me. On Saturday I turned 46. I’ve been having such an itch to travel, that I hopped on a plane and landed in Portland by happy hour to celebrate the big day. Why Portland? Well, I hadn’t really been there for probably 25 years, it’s relatively close, the weather forecast was good, they have tax-free shopping, and there’s a jewelry store there that I’ve been dying to go to for years. Need I say more??
During my two full days of exploring, I must say that I developed quite a few opinions of this fair city. Some may offend you (my apologies), but that’s certainly not my intention. So here goes.
1. People in Portland are frickin’ NICE! And I’m not just talking about the common courtesies. Here’s a couple prime examples. On my birthday evening, I took myself to the Portland City Grill, with amazing views of the city, given that it’s 30 stories up. Clearly it’s the “place” for celebrations in town, as virtually every surrounding table was having a birthday. Not only was the table of 8 next to me uber-friendly (celebrating Grandma Dorothy’s 70th birthday), but they actually PAID for my $60 dollar meal. Really?! Really…
Oh, and then the next day, I stumbled across Papa Haydn on 23rd Ave. The description of the croque madame with turkey pretty much had me drooling. They had a long wait for a table, even for one. Instead of making me wait, they said, “Well we also own the restaurant next door, Jo Bar. Though they have a different menu and kitchen, why don’t we take you over there, and we’ll get you the meal you want. Un-BE-lieveable. I must admit, it was one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. Not a speck was left on my plate when I left.
2. To look like a local, wear a puffer jacket. This appears to be the “it” item in Portland. Be it Patagonia, Columbia, or Athleta, it’s all about the puffer jacket. And yes, these were worn in the nicest of restaurants as well as on people out running. Guess that makes getting dressed each day pretty darn easy.
3. This leads me to the next point…I would not have a job in Portland. I think people are very secure in their casual, personal styles, and why would they pay me to shop for them? Not an insult, just an observation. In addition, there really wasn’t a large diversity in shopping resources.
4. Traffic? What traffic?! Traffic is, for all intents and purposes, nowhere to be found downtown. I’ve heard that the I-5 gets pretty backed up heading up to Vancouver after 3pm, but the streets downtown were practically empty at all hours. Here’s shots of both the freeway through town and one of the main streets downtown during commute time. Hello…cars…???
5. Portland has public transportation wired! Be it the bus or the Max train, you can pretty much get anywhere you want. Perhaps that explains the lack of traffic? Very clearly mounted transportation maps and labeled stops seem to make having a car an extra, not a necessity. (SF…take note!) At first I panicked that Uber didn’t operate there, but I seemed to survive just fine. Imagine that? (Sidebar: many of the cars clearly had snow tires on, as the Max doesn’t take you to snowboard on Mt. Hood.)
6. Make-up is definitely optional (and generally avoided), while piercings, tattoos, and beards are encouraged. Enough said.
7. Clearly food carts are a “thing.” Though I was too skeptical to try any of said street fare, there were numerous outposts of food carts, and they were super popular! Granted, in off hours I saw more than one drug deal taking place (eyes averted, of course), but during meal hours, they were doing gangbusters!
8. Cars stop to let you cross the street! This as so opposite of San Francisco, where I swear, many drivers think they’ll get “points” if they bump you.
9. Did I mention it’s beyond clean? I could have counted the number of trash items I saw on the street on one hand. Yet I never saw anyone out there cleaning. Why is that?! Is there a magical street cleaning fairy? I don’t get it.
10. Oh, and they’re VERY serious about their recycling. I had to take a minute to actually determine which slot to deposit my bottle! Good luck to the non-English speakers.
11. Speaking of which, I was shocked at the lack of cultural diversity in the city. I’m used to being in a racial mixing bowl, but this city is pretty darn white. Again, not a criticism, just an observation.
12. There’s a lot of character in their architecture. As I strolled through residential neighborhoods, I admired how most of the homes had big front porches. Even apartment buildings had such cool architectural details, that I couldn’t help but stop and take note.
13. Oh, and the views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens are downright gorgeous. Here’s the view of Mt. Hood from my hotel room. Not bad. If I’m not going to be near a beach, then mountains are my next favorite thing.
Now that I’m home, I’m queuing up Portlandia on Netflix. Dying to see if what I saw resonates with their take. (I’m actually glad I didn’t see it before my trip, so I could go into this adventure with no pre-conceived notions.) Granted, these are my observations from just two days, but it’s made a lasting impression. Have you been to Portland? Do you live there? What are your thoughts?
I know, I know…you want jewelry. Don’t worry. Next post up will be what I found on my journey! Promise. xo
My brother moved to El Dorado Hills about three years ago. I had no clue where this town was when he broke the news, but if you’re driving there from the Bay Area, you take the 50 past Sacramento, towards South Lake Tahoe, and there you’ll find it. Most of my visits are consumed with family activities, from my nephew’s little league games to my niece’s soccer matches. Aside from runs to Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I haven’t done an iota of “real” shopping on any visit. So HOW excited was I to finally see a fabulous store, and a jewelry store at that, this past weekend! The Talisman Collection is located right in downtown El Dorado Hills, and it’s a huge space filled with amazing items, from jewelry to bags to great gifts for the guy in your life.
When I walked into the store, I must say that I was in a bit of disarray, after spending the past few days moving my brother and his kids into their new home. But that clearly didn’t matter, and within minutes, the fab owner, Andrea Riso, and I were talking jewelry designers, stones, and trends. An hour passed in a flash, and I know I could have spent the entire afternoon there. She is beyond knowledgeable, and I learned so much from her. Do you know what this stone is?
I knew it was some sort of opal, but I learned it’s a very rare water opal, worth $50,000. I was nervous to even hold it!! Pulling more stones from her stash, I got to see this fire opal up close and personal. I cannot describe the radiance of this stone (this is just an iPhone photo, if you can believe it), and I can’t wait to see what she creates with it!
I was drooling when she brought out this necklace from Paula Crevoshay, who is the queen of colored stones. Who knew?! Andrea knows, that’s for sure!
The striking blue stone is hemimorphite, which looks like this in its natural state.
Also by Paula Crevoshay is this fantastic Paraiba tourmaline ring. The weight of it felt just divine on my finger!
In the multitude of cases lining the store, there were many of my favorite designers, from Anne Sportun to Sethi Couture to Zaiken, to name a few. But there are also some new names for me. One is Laura Medine, who it turns out is the mom of the infamous Man Repeller. (Love her–and she has such a following!!) It was this trio of necklaces that first caught my eye when I entered the store. The allure of alexandrite and peach moonstones was mesmerizing!
And seriously, how gorge is this moonstone and diamond bracelet?!
I also became acquainted with Fernando Jorge from Brazil. This necklace of sapphires and black gold made me want to go out on the town!
I was loathe to get on the road back to the Bay Area, but reality sunk in, and I had to stop playing with all the pretty jewels. Whether my brother likes it or not, I’m definitely going to be visiting this store on future visits. I know my 6 year-old nephew will be more than happy to accompany me, as he told me (as we were once peering through the store’s window off-hours) he loves the kid’s corner and said, “They have really cool rocks there!” Thanks to Andrea for the wonderful introduction and tour!
P.S Andrea–we need to meet for a drink at Couture this year!