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Road Trip Part 2: Symmetry Jewelers

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My second stop, in New Orleans was Symmetry Jewelers. You know it’s going to be good when a couple of other jewelers in the market tell you to visit, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Richard Lee Mathis in store

The co-owners of Symmetry are Richard Lee Mathis and Tom Mathis. Richard is the president of the store, while Tom is the in-house designer for which the store is locally famous. Symmetry is right in the wheelhouse of INDESIGN, as the store carries a variety of outside designers, including some nationally-known designers as well as several local creators.

Like all the jewelers I spoke to in New Orleans, Symmetry had their own unique story related to Hurricane Katrina. When the store was evacuated, Richard was able to get most of the jewelry into the vault but left some sterling jewelry in the showcases. When the staff eventually returned, the showcases were smashed and the sterling jewelry stolen. But the cool part is that a few months later, someone bought a nearby home, found the jewelry hidden in the house and brought it back to the store. Symmetry also had the good fortune to be insured by Jewelers Mutual, which paid for a renovation and replaced ruined equipment in the workshop.

While most customers come in for Tom’s custom and readymade designs, the store has other talented craftsmen, including designer Tim Nelson. Tim’s work is inspired by science fiction, and combines nanotechnology and jewelry to light up the jewelry from within. “I love having moving parts in the jewelry,” says Nelson, whose pieces are constructed of industrial metals like brass, titanium and copper. “And having hidden light sources adds mystery to the pieces. I think of my jewelry as wearable art.” One of Nelson’s creations, a scuba diving crawfish called “Wally of the Sea,” will have its profit donated to a local charity devoted to restoration in New Orleans.

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