Bracelets: Pascale Monvoisin 9k wire bracelet, Black wrap bracelet
the storefront of Gem Jewelry Boutique with its beautiful gold leaf
I love the vignettes that tell a story; displays that speak louder than words
Some Ruth Tomlinson, Megan Thorne, Gem Token, Satomi Kawakita rings stacked on stacked — shop rings
Gold elements, mirrors and a window of sunlight; some of my favorite parts of Gem
I love how every piece is displayed! Love the pieces of recycled leather to display the earrings
Ear piercing parties are one of Gem’s newest additions–because all these studs need to be worn!
Not only does Gem sell jewelry, but other lifestyle products like candles, bags, scarves, & home goods
owner of Gem, Laura Kitsos and myself
Rings: rough ruby by Emilie Shapiro, twin tourmaline ring by Margaret Solow, watermelon tourmaline + pink sapphire ring by Emilie Shapiro —- moonstone + sapphire ring by Emilie Shapiro, tourmalated quartz ring by Margaret Solow, opal + pink sapphire ring by Emilie Shapiro
The interior of the store was done by Laura’s husband who is a general contractor
I love how everything stacks and coordinates perfectly together–lots of different designers shown here!
Our last stop before heading home from our quick but amazing #JewelryRoadTrip to Chicago was Gem Jewelry Boutique, located a few minutes outside of Chicago in Oak Park. I had to see for myself Laura’s talked about and infamous curating skills–both jewelry-wise and display-wise. She is undeniably talented when it comes to putting things together, whether it is an entire store, a single display, an outfit, or a jewelry look. Gem has been open for nearly 13 years, with four different locations over the years. Most recently they moved to a new location which opened in June of 2015 and is what you’re seeing in the photos above. It is Laura’s most favorite location out of the four she has had, and as you can see, rightfully so! Laura says, “I wanted this location to invoke a sophisticated, calming environment yet with the slight edginess that depicts Gem’s image.”
The storefront is a beautiful jewel in its own right (I love the gold-leaf on the windows) and when you walk through the front door, you are immediately met with the open and airiness of the space. It proves to be an ideal jewelry showroom. The gems and jewelry sparkle in the sunlight, and the dark gray walls with mirrored and gold accents make you feel like you’re actually inside a jewelry box. The custom sliding cases and the large cabinet against the wall were all created specially for the space, thanks to Laura’s husband Michael. Another very sentimental addition to the store--the giant antique gold mirror–which was restored and outfitted with back-lighting, was essentially a wedding present from Michael, but ended up being the perfect focal point for the store. And I can agree! I love the mirror…and I can attest to the fact that jewelry stores NEED mirrors. I think they are essential!
Laura hadn’t always been on a clear path to opening a jewelry boutique from the beginning. She was actually the one designing and creating jewelry, teaching herself along the way, taking a couple metalsmithing classes and being inspired. This was back in 1995 when she lived in Portland, Oregon. Before that, it was her grandmother Lucile, who lived to be 101 years old, who infused a passion for jewelry in Laura from a very young age. Laura reminisces, “Each time I’d see her, she’d take me into her bedroom and on the bed we’d lay out all her boxes and jewelry while she told me the story behind each piece. It was heaven to me! And at the end, she’d always give me a piece. I learned how jewelry tells a story.”
One fateful day, Laura strolled into Twist in Portland and had an epiphany. In 2004 her first store opened, mainly selling her own designs and some vintage pieces. It goes without saying that the store has evolved very much over the years, especially beginning with what is featured. About two years into having the store, Laura attended a market show in NYC and a whole new world opened up before her eyes. She became passionate about supporting and learning about other designers, especially women artisans. Laura says, “Over the years, the store has evolved in that we now carry more designers than ever and I am focusing on a finer brand. The price point has risen over the years because I am carrying designers that are reputable, unique and are not mass producing their work. I appreciate “hand made” jewelry and especially jewelry made by women. I try to curate with that point of view.”
Designers like Vale Jewelry, Brooke Gregson, Emilie Shapiro, Blanca Monros Gomez, Arik Kastan, Megan Thorne, wwake, and Ruth Tomlinson are favorites and staples amongst Gem’s lineup. One of their newest additions, Pascale Monvoisin was an Instagram discovery for the store–which proves to designers that you can be discovered on social media! Although the mix of designers is eclectic and spans different countries and different continents, they all flow together and are able to be styled easily for a cohesive look because of Laura’s eye. You may see Gem Token as one of the designers featured several times in the photos above–that is the store’s own line of jewelry! Gem is also really excited about adding a few more brands to their roster, including Rusty Thought which is coming soon!
I loved visiting Gem and if you’re in the Chicago area, you are lucky to have such a great local jewelry store! Whatever your jewelry needs are or if you need a special gift, you will leave happy. I loved seeing a few customers come into the store while I was there and each person had a better day because they chose to come inside Gem. I know I sure did!
135 North Oak Park Avenue
Oak Park, IL 60301
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