Sometimes it seems we’re surrounded by platinum and diamonds here in Union Square with flagship outposts of Tiffany’s, DeBeers, Simayof, Shreve & Co., Bulgari, Cartier, Boucheron and many more. It makes taking an Audrey Hepburn moment to admire the jewels, drink coffee and take a bite of a croissant almost too easy. You’re probably aware of these big-name stores, but what about the cute little boutique jewelers – the kind of place where you can pick up a dazzling bracelet or chic pair of earrings to show off at your next dinner party? If nothing comes to mind, fear not, today we explore the mid-tier jewelry salons of Union Square.
Located on a quiet corner of Maiden Lane, Manika has been offering an eclectic mix of unique jewelry from local designers since 2006. The pint-sized boutique packs a wide variety of pieces, including eco-friendly items and fair-trade diamonds. Manika specializes in local designers like Sarah Graham, who creates dramatic necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings using gold and blackened cobalt steel. Ashley Morgan is another fun designer who makes beautiful stackable rings and stunning necklaces out of rose gold and other materials. The store’s Eco friendly lines are made from repurposed materials, avoiding the environmentally costly process of mining gold and other precious metals. While we’ll focus more on bridal in another article, readers might note that Manika also specializes in what they call “alternative bridal” jewelry. These are unusual or non-traditional engagement and wedding bands for men and women, offered in a casual, non-intimidating setting. Manika is also well-known for a friendly and warm approach to customer service, where there is no such thing as a dumb question (dog lovers note the presence of store mascot Charlie – an adorable Wheaten Terrier mix). Whether you’re looking for a special gift or simply a show-stopping piece to show off to your friends, we suggest you pop in while you’re perusing the stores on Maiden Lane. Manika also regularly hosts trunk shows and other special events if you’d like to meet a designer or see an entire collection up close.
New to Union Square, but not to the City, Gallery of Jewels has just opened a gorgeous new atelier on Post Street. This elegant storefront, outfitted with lovely wooden display cases, carved mirrors and white chandeliers, offers jewelry from over 100 local and international designers. Half of their jewelry comes from the Bay Area, and they pride themselves on showcasing up-and-coming artists. Pieces for sale do span a rather large range with prices from $40 to $5,000 for their wide variety of styles. All items are handcrafted and many are limited-edition, so you can find a piece that is truly unique. The store features pieces by celebrated jewelry makers like Alberian & Aulde – creators of striking rings and other pieces with expertly cut gem stones, Amy Buettner, who has a degree in sculpture and makes pieces akin to modern art, Amery Carrière who combines romance with edginess in her silver work and many, many more talented artists. To get a feel for it, you really must visit the shop located right near Union Square Park.
If that’s not enough baubles and gems for you, we have a sweet little boutique that came to us by way of Paris called Cecile & Jeanne. Unlike the other shops, Cecile & Jeanne carries exclusively their own brand, designed by their namesake founder Jeanne who wanted to create a line of high fashion jewelry for modern women. Their pieces combine unexpected materials including enamels, resins, unique metals and often Swarovski crystals (If pure Swarovski is your thing, you can stop by the flagship store on the corner of Powell and Geary Streets.). Each of Cecile & Jeanne’s pieces is finished with their signature dove symbol. The jewelry is whimsical, yet eminently wearable with collections ranging from the chunky, stylish cuffs and earrings in Voie Lactee to the more delicate, elegant pieces in the Cesar collection. The boutique is right at home on a block of Grant Avenue that houses charming bath and body shop Fresh and French bistro Café de la Presse.
Of course, a piece from any of these shops would make a lovely and special gift for a significant other or family member, especially since so many of them are one of a kind. All of these stores have associates who are more than happy to help you find the appropriate item for any occasion, so we hope you’ll consider treating yourself to a little bling next time you’re in Union Square.