SPOTLIGHT ON: 33 JEWELS
Diane Garmendia is one of those people who really (reallyreallreally) loves her job. Why shouldn’t she? The owner of jewelry store/art gallery 33 Jewels (814 State St.) spends her time searching out, designing, or gazing upon beautiful things, dealing with blissed-out, lovestruck people, or hosting 1st Thursday receptions in her upstairs gallery, which feature local artists and double as benefits for various nonprofits. The four-year-old shop is young by S.B. standards, but Garmendia is a pro: Her grandfather was a jeweler, and she spent six years as a buyer for Oliver & Espig, traveling the world in search of bling. But her shop-though reflective of her experience and stocked with rare, valuable gems like black diamonds and conch pearls-is decidedly new-school. Which is to say, she’ll work with you. Wedding and engagement rings are her favorite, and she insists “there are so many ways to get the customer the ring of their dreams at the price they want.” She’s all about the personal touch (and hearing the details of how the soon-to-be-engaged fell in love), sketching designs herself, and then determining which jeweler is best suited to each project.
She also carries an awesome variety of complete pieces, and right now, it’s worth stopping in just to check out the Miriam Haskell collection: decadent costume jewelry designed for the stars, dating as far back as the 1920s-and Lana Turner.
Asked if she ever finds herself the teensiest bit glum over parting with a special piece, Garmendia said, “I live in the world’s best jewelry box; I don’t lust for anything.” In her travels, she’s been known to pick up a sapphire here, a pearl there-ostensibly for a piece she’ll design and have made-only it rarely comes to that. “I have a box of sketches and a box of loose material-I guess just being around all of this is satiating enough.” Lucky, lucky girl.
This Saturday, May 2, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., the Albertson’s shopping center on the Mesa is the place to be. Yeah, you read that right, and no, I’ve not seen one too many Project Runway episodes in which designers are forced to whip up evening gowns out of cabbage leaves and therefore grown convinced that there’s couture to be had in the produce section. Nope, the action is going down on the sidewalk, and in the currently vacant stores where, once upon a time, videos were rented and Hallmark sentiments procured. Dubbed Art on the Mesa, this day-long affair was orchestrated by jewelry maker/Cominichi’s vendor Hillary Dulien. Dulien has pulled together an incredible array of more than 30 artisans of all stripes: Stop by to check out vintage and handmade clothing, jewelry, baby goods, silkscreen and airbrush art, solar carvings, ceramics, paintings, blown glass, furniture, and just about anything else you can imagine. A percentage of proceeds will go to the Open Alternative Education Fund, and shoppables will stretch all the way from Cucas’ corner to Fosters Freeze. If all that wasn’t enough, there’s going to be live music all day long, an original mural by Harley Hahn in the spot-formerly-known-as-the-video-store (there should be a symbol for that), not to mention painfully easy access to treats from Hot Cookie, or margaritas at the Mesa Cafe. How’s that for one-stop shopping?
Naughty Boys Need Threads, Too: Artist/designer/all-around troublemaker Wallace Piatt is returning to his roots-or at least his DNA. Yes, after a 10-year hiatus, he’s been inspired to design some fresh new duds-for dudes. The tees are pure Wallace: graphic, edgy, and sporting his special brand of cheeky humor. You know, the kind that your friends will think is pure comic genius, and strangers will think is grounds for notifying the authorities, like the subtly silkscreened “Sex Addict” design. Ah, yes. To get your hands on the goods, email Wallace at email@example.com.
Sole Shakedown: After a hugely successful turnout last year, the team at DIANI (1324 State St., Ste. H) is gearing up for its third annual Soles4Souls event. Soles4Souls is an international charity dedicated to providing free shoes to needy people the world over, and DIANI has stepped up in a big way in years past, collecting more than 1,000 pairs of gently worn men’s, women’s, and children’s flat-soled shoes last year alone. Drop yours by the shop anytime. And while you’re there, check out the luxurious latest from Isabel Marant, and her less-expensive sister line, Etoile: a little bit bohemian, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. : So mark your calendars-and consider: Isn’t a little footwear feng shui in order?
Movin’ on Up: One perk of the atrocious economy is that prime real estate on or near State Street is popping up at prices our local boutique owners can afford. Lucia Loves Luigi is ditching its incognito locale on Brinkerhoff Avenue and getting ready to open its new doors at 21 West Ortega Street. The higher-profile spot offers natural light, convenient parking, and some fabulous new lines, including leather sandals from Soixante Neuf, graphic tees from Before & After, and linen trenches-short-sleeved for summer-from Kay Park. The grand opening is slated for this coming week, and the only question that remains is: How will Luigi the dog deal with the wildcat down the street?