News & Politics

Unique Pieces of Jewelry

Why wear ordinary jewelry? Here's where to buy beautiful pieces that catch the eye--from imaginative necklaces and rings made by local artists to exotic gems crafted in far-off lands.

Searching for something unique? Consider jewelry designed by artists who don't mass-produce their work and often make things by hand.

To find artist-made pieces, try these shops, galleries, and local designers.

Alla Rogers Gallery, 1054 31st St., Georgetown; 202-333-8595; Visit this gallery for striking designs by Kiev-born jewelry artist Masha Archer. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and created from interesting materials from different cultures–think antique jade, a Burmese coin from the 1920s, Naga shell, Dutch trading beads, iridescent milk glass. Dramatic necklaces are a standout. Celebrities like Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Joan Collins are fans. Prices typically range from $600 to $1,700, but there are earrings for $165.

Allyre, Georgetown, 202-288-9869; After she started taking jewelry-making classes five years ago, Alyssa Reiner switched from lawyer to jewelry designer. She works with 18-karat yellow gold and colored gemstones, usually tourmaline, to make striking rings and delicate circle earrings. Her main influence is classical architecture. Prices run from $1,000 to $5,000; call for an appointment.

Andrea Haffner, Northwest DC; 202-328-1340; Andrea Haffner uses natural materials to create lovely pendants and pins. Delicate specimens like dried flowers, seeds, or leaves are cast into resin and framed with 18-karat gold, pink gold, or sterling silver. Silver pieces are priced from $48 to $76, gold from $350 to $860. Wear your pendant on a simple satin cord or choose a matching gold or silver necklace ($10 to $275). You can find Haffner's work at the Phillips Collection's museum shop (1600 21st St., NW; 202-387-2151); 52 O Street Studios (52 O St., NW, No. 308); and on select weekends at Eastern Market (Seventh St. between North Carolina Ave. and C St., SE). She also meets clients by appointment at her studio.

Appalachian Spring, Georgetown, 202-337-5780; Union Station, 202-682-0505; Reston Town Center, 703-478-2218; Congressional Plaza, 301-230-1380. Appalachian Spring has been showcasing American crafts since 1968. There's lots of handmade gold and silver jewelry–from Touch Studio's braided gold hoop earrings to Ed Levin's adjustable silver bracelets. Check out the square rings with large stones by Gabriel Ofiesh. Many pieces are under $500.

Art & Soul, 225 Pennsylvania Ave., Capitol Hill; 202-548-0105. Art & Soul stocks handcrafted bohemian-style finds from designers such as Echo of the Dreamer, Amy Kahn Russell, and Terri Logan. You'll find plenty of sterling silver, mixed metal, and semiprecious stones. As you enter the store, don't miss a wall case to your left with pretty dangly earrings.

Arts Afire Glass Gallery, 102 N. Fayette St., Alexandria; 703-838-9785; This gallery features handmade jewelry from more than 300 artists. Go for pretty glass beads and lots of color.

As Kindred Spirits, Congressional Plaza, 301-984-0102; Reagan National Airport, 703-417-1508; Pentagon Row, 703-415-9898. Some travelers arrive early for a flight just so they have time to stop by the store's National Airport location. At the Pentagon location, look for sterling-silver beaded bauble rings by J. Dell Designs, created by local artist Jennifer Eubank.

BoLuxe, Germantown; 301-515-5566; BoLuxe stands for bohemian luxury. Think ethnic semiprecious stones mixed with sterling silver or 14-karat gold to make eye-catching necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Designer Robyn McClendon-Jones has a fine-arts background, and her painter's eye selects colors that enhance the wearer's complexion. She'll do custom work by appointment in her studio, or you can usually find her at the Alexandria farmers market every Saturday morning. If you can't make it to the market, try Unicorn, also in Old Town (119 S. Fairfax St.; 703-548-1202).

Creative Bead Design, Fairfax City; 703-362-0330. Linda Mutersbaugh crafts reasonably priced one-of-a-kind bead work and turns antique buttons into brooches. She works with semiprecious stones, freshwater pearls, and vintage pendants, and she'll build a necklace around a unique centerpiece. Clients can meet her by appointment and are welcome to bring in items they'd like her to re-create into something new. Her jewelry is guaranteed–if anything breaks, she'll repair at no charge.

Elaine Gravatt, Bethesda; 301-320-3757. A former Department of Justice litigator, Gravatt is now a self-taught jewelry maker who specializes in beading with semiprecious stones. She'll do anything from a chunky necklace made with red Chinese coral and turquoise to a simple, elegant strand of amethysts. Necklaces include pretty clasps. Pieces sell for $75 to $300; call for an appointment.

Emma Villedrouin, Northwest DC; 202-291-0706; For something really special, make an appointment to visit this designer's studio. Villedrouin hand-fabricates botanical-inspired designs with silver, 18-karat gold, gemstones, and pearls. Within her collection are hammered-gold dianthus earrings with yellow sapphires, a pearl-and-gold sunflower brooch, and tulip drop earrings with green tourmalines and white Japanese Akoya pearls. Many pieces have a vintage look; others are more contemporary. Prices run from $100 to $3,000. Her work can also be found at Austin & Elkins (421 S. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-684-5555).

I. Gorman, 1120 20th St., NW; 202-775-8544; Artist-made jewelry with a modern look. Check out the pearl disco rings by Gellner, Niessing's stainless-steel abakus rings and gold cube cuff links, Jane Bohan's colorful faceted beads, and Michael Good's fluid designs crafted from single pieces of precious metal. You can find an interesting piece for under $400, and custom-ordering is an option.

Janet Cam, Dupont Circle; 202-822-8833. Janet Cam, known to many in Washington for her restaurant expertise, is also a jewelry designer. Cam's jewelry is not only gorgeous, it's meaningful. "Amethyst is for clarity of the mind, pink quartz for relationships, and smoky quartz for good health," Cam says. Some examples of her work: a necklace made with prayer beads from the Ching Dynasty, a bracelet of carved red-agate lotuses, and a meteorite pendant. Prices range from $800 to $10,000. Call for an appointment or view her work at the Keith Lipert Gallery in Georgetown.

Jewelers' Werk Galerie, 2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-293-0249. This tiny gallery represents artists from around the world–Germany, Australia, New Zealand, England, Japan. You'll find interesting materials–there are necklaces made with rose petals–along with gold, semiprecious stones, and brightly colored enameled jewelry.

Keith Lipert Gallery, 2922 M St., Georgetown; 202-965-9736; Need something for a special occasion? This gallery is filled with jewelry sure to make you sparkle. Jazz up a little black dress with one of the shop's stunning necklaces. Prices start at $25, but most items are on the very expensive side.

Queen Bee Designs, Alexandria; 703-329-6768; Allison Priebe Brooks uses semiprecious stones like citrine and quartz to make beautiful necklaces. Make an appointment to visit her studio or see her designs at boutiques such as All About Jane in Adams Morgan (202-797-9710) or Clarendon (703-243-4424), Sugar in Georgetown (202-333-5331), Plaid in Southeast DC (675-6900), and Tickled Pink in Alexandria (703-518-5459).

Sassanova, 1641 Wisconsin Ave., Georgetown; 202-471-4400; No need to travel to New York's super-chic Kirna Zabête to get handmade jewelry by Trish Becker–a favorite among celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and Halle Berry–you can find her gorgeous drop earrings ($99 to $250) at Sassanova. A one-stop shop for accessories like shoes and handbags, Sassanova carries jewelry from about 50 designers–half of them artisans who make one-of-a-kind pieces by hand.

Secrète, Wildwood Center, Bethesda; 301-530-7892. For 12 years, Secrète has been designing and making high-end jewelry in its shop. Choose from modern and classic styles or browse their loose stones to design a one-of-a-kind piece. A few standouts: a rose-gold necklace with diamond flower pendant, vintage-looking diamond drop earrings, and a turquoise-and-diamond cocktail ring.

The Silver Parrot, 113 King St., Alexandria; 703-549-8530; If you like silver, this 25-year-old Old Town shop should make you happy. Artisan-made pieces are hand-selected from all over the world, and a broad range of styles and prices ensures that there's something for everyone. Jewelry is grouped by type of stone–display cases feature signs that say things like "amethyst improves memory"–and the staff is helpful. For those who favor Native American jewelry, you'll find one-of-a-kind pieces from the Navajo and Zuni tribes.

Stanton Gallery, 114 S. Royal St., Alexandria; 703-299-3055; Jewelry designer Christine Lamb Stanton has put together a great collection of fresh, inventive designs. Many of the artists she features are graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design. Check out Johanna Fisher's mod cocktail rings and necklaces–the adjustable rhinestone spark ring and a sterling-silver-coated pewter wire necklace with enamel charm are both $29–and Jennifer Kellogg's Peeps-inspired pieces. Christine Stanton also designs diamond engagement rings.

Torpedo Factory Arts Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria; 703-838-4565; Several studios feature handcrafted jewelry. Visit studio 229 for Zsuzsi Wolf's interesting gold rings with stones or pearls.

Zaruba & Zaruba, 35 N. Market St., Frederick; 301-695-4556. This gallery is worth the trip for custom-made fine jewelry. Award-winning designer and master goldsmith Douglas Zaruba specializes in platinum or high-karat-gold fabrications and also uses diamonds and other precious gemstones. Inspired by ancient civilizations, Zaruba's craftsmanship combines modern silhouettes with classical design. His wedding bands are popular.