Transform Your Jewelry At This St. Louis Boutique Jeweler
Jamie Danieli, executive director of Albarré Jewelry, essentially grew up in the jewelry business. Her father, Barry Sherman, founded Albarré Jewelry in 1976 in St. Louis after working as a high-school history teacher. While planning to pursue a new career, he went to work for his cousin in the jewelry business. There, he learned the tools of the trade—everything from technical goldsmithing to sales.
Today, Jamie works alongside her father, at the same location where the business was founded decades ago. We caught up with her to find out more about her involvement in the business and the experience of creating a custom piece of jewelry.
Albarre goldsmith filing wax to mimic the width and shape of a bracelet.
At Albarré, you create many custom pieces. What are some of the most common misconceptions about custom jewelry?
People often worry that they can’t envision what the final product will look like. We use a hand-drawn sketch, wax model or a CAD on a computer so they can visualize it. When we begin the process with a customer, we discuss how they want the final version to look, and then our goldsmith carves it out of wax by hand.
For this bracelet [pictured below], he sawed off a section of wax that represents approximately how wide the piece will be. Then he sanded it close to the size of the finished product and carved out a channel in the middle where the stones will sit. When people can see something, even if it’s in the wax and it’s green, it really gives them what they need to imagine the final product. That takes away a lot of the anxiety on their end.
For this particular project, we ran through several different ideas with the customer before settling on a bracelet. We fitted the wax mold to her wrist several times. It’s like having a custom dress made—that way, the customer really has control throughout the process and can give feedback every step of the way.
Albarre goldsmith experimenting with diamond placement and composition.
What do you enjoy most about working with customers?
People want to create custom jewelry for different reasons. Generally, no two jobs will ever be the same, which keeps it interesting. You’re always creating new and different things. I also like that people wind up with something they really enjoy and will frequently wear. Most of the time, they’re surprised when you tell them you can take a pair of earrings and turn them into a bracelet. You can take parts of a piece and transform them into something new. Everyone has different styles, ideas and tastes.
Many people also have a sentimental attachment to items, so we try to find a way to preserve that sentiment while still creating something new that they will love. It’s really important to strike that balance. A customer could bring in a pin that belonged to a family member and we could use the stones to make something totally different, or alter the existing piece into something new without changing the original setting. I’ve even done that for myself with some of my own jewelry. I took a ring given to me by my grandma and used the stones to make stackable rings and a necklace—things that I wear.
What have you learned throughout your time working at Albarré?
The majority of people don’t know what they want when they come into our store—they just know that they’re looking for something unique. Sometimes people have photos of different styles that inspire them. It might be as random as a design from the side of a building or a texture of a handbag. Or, it might be something as straightforward as a ring posted on a friend’s Pinterest wall. That inspiration is always helpful. And with our inventory, people often find styles and gems that inspire them right here as well.
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