Best Jeweler in DC
May 4, 2013 11:11 PM   Subscribe

I've just inherited a really gorgeous, old, very high-quality set of pearls from a family member. In addition to making sure they don't need to be restrung so that I don't accidentally break them, I'd actually like to see about breaking the set apart. Because they have strong sentimental value to many of the women in my family, if I could find a large enough quantity of identical pearls, I'd like to have my one set split into two or three sets to give to other family members, each containing some of the original pearls from my necklace. So my question is, who is the best jeweler in the DC metro area to find out whether such a project is feasible? Cost is not really a factor, at least not at this stage of the process. Thanks!
posted by decathecting to Shopping (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My first thought was Mikimoto pearls (my coveted pearl of choice). Very expensive, but gorgeous. So I did a search for "Mikimoto and DC" and came up with this article on pearls in the DC area. It's a few years old, but might give you a starting place.
posted by cecic at 12:13 AM on May 5, 2013

Best answer: I've had custom work done at Gold Works in Alexandria and would trust them to either do the work or to recommend someone who could.
posted by exogenous at 4:48 AM on May 5, 2013

Slight sidebar; consider asking the jeweler to make bracelets for the women in your family, rather than necklaces? It may be difficult/very expensive to find a LOT of identical, old pearls.
posted by nkknkk at 5:05 AM on May 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Also in Alexandria, I would recommend Today's Cargo . I've had them do something similar to what you're requesting--they took apart a bracelet and made it into earrings for me. Granted, it was with sterling silver, not pearls, but it was exactly what I wanted. (And not nearly as expensive as I thought it would be!).
posted by oiseau at 5:11 AM on May 5, 2013

Best answer: Can't say enough good things about Walter at Washington diamond. Haven't bought pearls there but have no doubt he can help, or has someone who can.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:35 AM on May 5, 2013

Slight derail, but have you talked to the women about how they would feel to see the necklace broken up? If it's so old and sentimental, some people would be horrified at the idea of destroying it and would rather see it go to one person in one peice. Just something to consider before spending that much effort and cash.
posted by windykites at 5:42 AM on May 5, 2013 [16 favorites]

Or split into earrings sets. I have pretty earrings with a 3 pearl cluster. That may be easy to remove from necklace and get more wear for the recipients.
posted by saffry at 6:08 AM on May 5, 2013

I would be horrified as per windykites' outline. In re. bracelets, pearls are extremely soft -- 2.5 on the Mohs scale. Pearl bracelets are a thing one wears very infrequently and then only with great care; pearls are much more protected around a neck. (Pearls are normally half-drilled for earring use; hard to picture a design with these where it wouldn't show a hole?)
posted by kmennie at 6:16 AM on May 5, 2013

Response by poster: Yes, I've talked to the other women involved, as well as to the relative who bequeathed it to me, and we're all in agreement that if it can be done, we'd like to wear matching necklaces that each contain some of the original pearls. We like the idea of breaking up the set, if it can be done (and assuming we can afford it when the time actually comes to decide whether to do it). We do not want earrings or pendants or rings or whatever. But that's pretty tangential to the actual question, which is about recommending a good jeweler.

I should have also mentioned: I'm carless, so something metro accessible would be ideal. Falls Church and some other suburbs are pretty hard to get to. I'm sort of surprised that there's nothing in the city, but I'm willing to accept that rich, classy folks with good jewelry all live in the burbs, if that's what's up. :-)

Thanks, all!
posted by decathecting at 7:04 AM on May 5, 2013

Best answer: I've also had custom work done at Gold Works in Alexandria, which is accessible via the King Street Metro (you can walk or take the free King Street trolley bus). You should also be able to get to Today's Cargo that way. The article cecic links to mentions O'Rourke in Bethesda. I've never used them but you should be able to get to them via the Bethesda Metro.

Since I live close by I have used Courthouse Jewelers in Arlington. They are right by the Courthouse Metro station. The guy who runs it has restrung old pearls for me and did a nice job, but I've never had him design anything.

If it were me, I would go to the two places in Alexandria and see what they say, estimate wise.
posted by gudrun at 7:36 AM on May 5, 2013

Best answer: I (and everyone to whom I've suggested them) have had great experiences with Bensons Jewelers at 13th and F. They do restringing, and if they can't source additional matching pearls themselves, I'd definitely trust whoever they recommended.

It sounds like a lovely project -- hope it works out!
posted by argonauta at 8:31 AM on May 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't know how much they do with pearls, but I. Gorman (just south of Dupont Circle) is family owned and has the best customer service ever. If they can't do it, they'll refer you to someone who can. Also, don't be scared off by the ultra modern stuff on their website, they also do traditional designs.
posted by echo0720 at 8:51 AM on May 5, 2013

Best answer: Tiny Jewel Box (near Farragut North metro) has a great reputation for working with estate jewelry, but call to make sure they will work with estate pearls. (They will not, for instance, work on estate silver that is not their own.)
posted by devinemissk at 10:44 AM on May 5, 2013

a suggestion: as has been mentioned, finding a perfectly matched set of antique pearls to match is going to be hard, i.e. expensive.
Why not use a different kind of pearl to 'fill in' in a pretty pattern? Pearls come in a variety of colors...each of you could have a different color, with every third pearl coming from the original so: ooOooOooOooOoo
posted by sexyrobot at 12:41 PM on May 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

we'd like to wear matching necklaces that each contain some of the original pearls

You don't have to find identical pearls to do this; you can have matching necklaces of two different colors of pearls, or pearls with semiprecious stone beads. Perhaps the birthstone of the relative, or something in their favorite color.
posted by yohko at 1:46 PM on May 5, 2013

Best answer: i always go to AFram Jewelers on the 1400 block of New York Avenue. They restrung my inherited pearls.
posted by jgirl at 2:12 PM on May 5, 2013

My gran gave me a formidable necklace of pearls and corals, (I love corals) my sister in law got pearls only, and someone else had the pearls mixed with silver beads. Just for inspiration...
Recently, in my family, we've been doing a lot of remaking of jewellery. We like to wear the stuff we've inherited, because of history and feelings, but also we've realized some things are too old-fashioned to wear. Remodelling makes things wearable. And for us, the historical value remains the same.
Not DC, I'm afraid
One word of advice, though: if you want value, seek out avantgarde/elite makers. On a longer term, the design is more important than the quality of the pearls.
posted by mumimor at 2:38 PM on May 5, 2013

Response by poster: Really not looking for suggestions about how to make jewelry. We as a family have discussed the matter extensively, and this is what we've decided to explore. We know what we want to do, and if that turns out not to be feasible, we will keep the set as-is.

Really just looking for suggestions for DC-area jewelers. Thanks to all who have responded.
posted by decathecting at 9:04 PM on May 5, 2013

Best answer: I've always loved the Rubini family jewlers in Alexandria. I've had stuff made and altered by them for years and they are always been very good.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:34 AM on May 6, 2013

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