Big Cool Honorable Mentions
Carter’s Jewelry of Petal
Chae Carter took over her mom’s jewelry store and in 2017 made it wholly her own with a brighter location she designed herself. Since then, it’s become a destination store, drawing customers from hours away, many of whom are attracted by her highly effective website, social media and the kind of enviable SEO that comes from having 700 5-Star Google reviews. Judges say they love Carter’s flexible management style focused on tapping the unique talents of each member of the team. “Chae Carter and her team are providing experiences in a fun and inviting space for the multi-generational consumers she serves in the community,” said one judge.
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In 2018, brothers Joseph and Danny Boukhalil opened their sophisticated downtown Seattle store, designed by architect Adel Dagher of International Lead Architects. At the heart of the space is a design center. Judges say the store has a modern, hinting-at-industrial vibe that’s unique and luxurious. The business is well presented on the website and social channels. Their marketing does a great job of highlighting their customers and the diversity of their community.
Julz by Alan Rodriguez
Julz by Alan Rodriguez, owned by Alan Rodriguez, boasts an eye-catching architectural detail, a two-story glass cube that fills the store with natural light. Judges say they love the focus on customer experience across all touchpoints. Further, “the glass cube provides a unique and brightly lit setting that’s perfect for viewing diamond jewelry.”
Santa Fe, NM
Owned by artists Ivan and Allison Barnett, Patina Gallery is curated as its own work of art and driven by the desire to be “soul-stirring.” Judges say that artful curation and minimalist displays make the artwork the hero of this space. Further, “galleries like Patina remind us of how exquisite jewelry can be when it is pursued as an art form. They demonstrate the power of curation, and how the curation of a store’s collection is an expression of a store’s brand.”
Classic-movie fans Tim and Sharon Ell own Zorells Jewelry, where they love to “give customers goosebumps,” so much so that they’ve trademarked the term. Under the design direction of Leslie McGwire and Associates, they built their dream store in 2019, inspired by Old Hollywood. The judges agree that the theme works. “These guys have a brand, they understand it, and they convey it consistently in the clothing they wear and the cars they drive to the store. The Old Hollywood theme works and doesn’t come off like kitsch, because they clearly enjoy it,” one judge said.
Small Cool Honorable Mentions
New York City
When Alice Sundbom opened Atelier d’Emotion in 2018 in the heart of Soho, she wanted to champion independent brands and designers with a focus on one-of-a-kind, New York City-made jewelry and wearable art. She also sells unisex niche perfumes made in New York, France and Italy. The judges love the bohemian quality of the store as well as its merchandise mix of offerings from less exposed designers and brands. They also cite the smart use of fragrance to augment experiences and keep clients in the store. “I would love to have stumbled upon this as I walked the city,” said one.
Once Upon A Diamond
Jordan Brown and his brother, Nicholas, both have degrees in architecture and, along with their father, Steve, have experience in construction. So, it seemed natural to the three owners of Once Upon A Diamond to become deeply involved in the renovation of their building that had previously been a corner store, a fast-food restaurant and an office building. Its new, understated black and white façade opens up to a bolder décor with a vibrant color scheme of gold, redwood and charcoal gray. Museum-style wall cases lend a gallery vibe. Judges love the hands-on approach to store design, the website’s functionality, and the skillful use of social media to reinforce the breadth of merchandise offerings. “I’m impressed with how well-rounded their internet presence is,” said one. “The family story and intense involvement with the storefront are amazing.”
Barry Peterson Jewelers
Barry Peterson designed and served as main contractor for the store’s dramatic 2019 reinvention, which features a vaulted ceiling crafted of Malaysian walnut wood, a chandelier made in-house from carnelians and a grand staircase with Alder wood banisters. The second-floor workshop is furnished with benches that Peterson built himself. The judges say it’s a great looking store that invites exploration to discover all of its treasures. “The town is lucky to have Peterson as their jeweler,” one judge said.
Katie Diamond Jewelry
Katie Diamond owns this business, and yes, it’s her real name; she married into the Diamond family. She launched her first jewelry collection in 2007 and eight years later opened for retail in an old house, where she’s built a strong repeat business. She’s added a piercing annex to the operation to ensure her clients can immediately add to their Katie Diamond collection of delicate earrings. The judges say they love the confidence with which Katie Diamond approaches her brand identity. “Clean and clear, this store knows who they are and who they want as a customer,” noted one judge.
Koehn & Koehn Jewelers
West Bend, WI
Andy and Jenn Koehn, owners of Koehn & Koehn Jewelers in West Bend, WI, have parlayed their “free-range staff” approach to management, their “what you see is what you get” digital presence and an eclectic retail space into an experience that’s disarmingly honest, amusing and approachable. Judges say they love the fun, authentic approach the couple takes in everything from website to store décor and marketing. “This is a friendly, community engaged store with great brands. What’s not to like?” says one judge. “This story feels like home, with little touches make me want to take a trip to their store.”