top of page

Washingtonian Magazine
"Where Did You Get That? One-Of-A-Kind Pieces" By Alycia Kilpatrick, February 2005

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 artist Masha Archer. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and created from interesting materials from different cultures- think 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 range typically 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 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; 202-328-1320;
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 in 18-Karat, pink gold, or sterling silver. Silver pieces are priced from $48 to $76, gold

from $350 to $850. 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
Appalchian Spring has been showcasing American crafts since 1968. There’s lots of handmade gold amnd 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., Capital Hill; 202-548-0105
Art & Soul stocks handcrafted bohemian-style finds from designers such as Echo of the Dreamer, Amy Kahn Russekk, and Terri Logan. You’ll find plenty of sterling silver, mixed metal, and semi-precious 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 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.

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 select 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 Mustersbaugh 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 center piece. 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 garanteed- 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. Pieces 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 abacus rings and guld 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, Japan. You’ll find interesting materials- there are necklaces made with rose petals- along with gold, semi-precious 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 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), Sugar in Georgetown (202-333-5331), Pliad in Southeast DC (675-6900) and Tickled Pink in Alexandria (703-518-5459).

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 favourite 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.

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 very helpful. For those who favor Native American jewelry, you’ll find one-of-a-kind pieces from 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 rinestone 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.

11500 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-230-6560; 825 Dulaney Valley Rd., No. 4195, Towson, 410-828-5521; Tysons Galleria; 703-288-4387;
The company’s aim is to build interest in foreign cultures, and the pins, chokers, necklaces, hoop earrings, rings, and bracelets made of shell, glass, plastic, and other nonprecious materials pay tribute to traditional designs. This is jewelry that is easy on the pocketbook yet makes a statement.

Arise Gallery of Clothing and Jewelry
117 Carroll St., Takoma Park; 202-291-6951;
The decision to move clothing and jewelry from the Willow Street warehouse full of furniture and decorative objects to spare, contemporary shop across the street has made Arise’s collection of craft jewelry stand out. New displays enable customers to see the items-from Asia, Africa, and the United States- more clearly and try them on more easily.

* Artifactory
641 Indiana Ave., NW; 202-393-2727
Fair prices and a huge collection of high-quality jewelry from around the globe are the highlights of this packed warehouse-cum –gallery near the National Archives. It’s the best shop in Washington for a varied selection: old ivory bracelets form Afica and India, antique silver bangles from South Asia, trade bead necklace, brass and silver neck and finger rings, and contemporary earrings by American artists. Similar jewelry in New York galleries is twice the price.

Bead Museum Store
400 Seventh St., NW; 202-624-4500;
This tiny museum, dedicated to beads and personal ornamentation, has a first-rate selection of one-of-a-kind ethnic and contemporary beaded jewelry at realistic prices.

* Beadazzled
1507 Conn. Ave., NW, 202-265-2323; 501 N. Charles St., Baltimore, 410-837-2323; Tysons Corner Center, 703-848-2323;
Design and string them yourself or let the experts at Beadazzled do it for you- either way, these shops are one-stop sources for unusual beads and all the string and clasps to go with them. A collection of ready-to-wear jewelry serves as inspiration. Restringing and repair services are a bonus.

Locations in DC, Maryland and Virginia;
Primarily a chain of clothing shops, Chico’s also sells faux ethnic jewelry- some of which could pass for the real thing- at good prices.

Gold City Jewelers
451 Hungerford Dr., Rockville; 301-838-8888
Gorgeous 22-karat gold and gemstone jewelry from India and a helpful staff are this shop’s strong points. Most pieces are sold by the weight, as they would be in South Asia, and most are elaborate enough for formal occasions. Some simpler bangles and rings could be worn everyday. If you’re traveling to India, look here before you go.

Indian Craft Shop
Department of the Interior, 1849 C St., NW; 202-208-4056;
You’ll find authentic, high quality jewelry made by artists representing more than 45 Native American tribes. Women will like the distinctive bead work, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings; men will find bolo ties, belts and belt buckles, cuff links, and tie tacks.

National Museum of Women in the Arts
New York Ave. and 13th st., NW; 202-783-5000;
There is usually marvelous craft-artist jewelry in the museum shop, often reflecting the current show. Inexpensive but fun, multicolor, plastic rings are displayed with more pricey well-designed brooches and bracelets, necklaces and earrings.

Oya’s Mini Bazaar
2420 18th St., NW; 202-667-9853
If you don’t mind sorting through rugs and baskets, you can findcheap but often striking baubles and beads, mostly from Africa and South Asia. Delicate earrings and necklaces from Ecuador, leather bracelets from Africa, and loose beads galore are fashionable and inexpensive.

The Phoenix
1514 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-338-4404
Mexico is the source of much of the jewelry in this long-established Georgetown shop. Classic Mexiacan sterling-silver pieces dominate, but gold and gemstones put in an appearance as do contemporary American designs. Unlike newer shops specializing in Mexican silver, Phoenix carries select, high-quality items.

1044 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-337-1390; 4821 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, 301-986-1870
Though clothing by creative designers is the main stock, there’s a small selection of contemporary jewelry by craft artists. Wood, silver, glass, plastic, and other interesting materials are used in striking bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rings.

444 Seventh St., NW; 202-347-4543
Alongside tailored, natural-fiber clothing, Pua showcases a small but brialliant array of jewelry from South Asia nad Tibet, hand selected by owner Zarmina Said, who obtains much of it from a dealer in Nepal on her trips there and to other countries that produce her designs.

S&A Beads
6929 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park; 301-891-2323;
S&A has beads galore and a helpful staff that offers advice and will asiist the craft challenged customer on a do-it-yourself project. Ready-to-wear jewelry means you can also shop and go.

Smithsonian Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Ave., SW; 202-633-0535;
Like the art in the museum, the Sackler’s fine jewelry is from Asia and the Middle East. Whether it is wood, bone, and brass bangles or pricier items made from silver and gemstones, the prices are reasonable though not a bargain, the quality is reliable, and the selection is large.

Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art
12th and Jefferson Dr., SW; 202-633-0535;
The small shop sells choice designs evoking Japanese, Chinese, and South Asian aesthetics. Copies of classic design are displayed alongside more contemporary pieces.

* Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
950 Independence Ave., SW; 202-786-2147;
There’s something for everyone, and in every price range, in this mueum shop: from leather–and-bead bracelets to stone necklaces and earrings to gold plated replicas of antique African jewelry.

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Fourth St. and Independence Ave. SW; 202-633-7030;
Two shops at Washington’s newest mueum are among the best places to find beautiful Native American traditional and contemporary jewelry. The main-level shop showcases the highest-quality silver, spiny oyster, and turquoise pieces- with prices to match. Upstairs, more affordable jewelry also appeals.
Smithsonian Renwick Gallery of American Art, 17th St., & Penn. Ave., NW; 202-357-1445;
Looking for the latest work by innovative American jewelry artists? Look no further.

Taxco Sterling Company
Union Station, 202-682-1172; Georgetown Park Mall, 202-342-9504; Fashion Center at Pentagon City, 703-415-5665; Tysons Corner Center, 703-893-2526
If your idea of great jewelry is silver, big, and bold, look no further. While the majority of the jewelry is from Taxco, Mexico’s silver-mining center, some items come from Italy and Indonesia.

Textile Museum Shop
2320 S St., NW; 202-667-0441 ext 29;
One-of-a-kind jewelry, mostly of Asian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern origin, is exhibited along with hand woven scarves so stunning they can also be worn as jewelry. You may find chunky amber beads or woven silver bracelets in this changing collection.

Trade Secrets
1515 U St., NW; 202-667-0634;
Clothing from India and Africa may be the main draw, but a careful look around will unearth unusual beaded necklaces, metal bracelets, dangling earrings, and more. Owner Marcia Duvall’s friendly chitchat plus a proffered glass of Merlot make the experience here more akin to riffling through a friend’s closet than shopping.

* Zawadi Gallery
1524 U St., NW; 202-232-2214;
Pieces of distinction, such as old ivory and heirloom silver bracelets, can be found in this attractive shop, shop name means “gift” in Swahili. Marvelous clothing, and a friendly owner who serves as a fashion consultant, simplify putting jewelry and clothes together to smashing effect.


bottom of page