402 University St., Seattle
On cosmopolitan University Street in downtown Seattle, shoppers are known to linger on the sidewalks to take in two quintessential sights: the peekaboo views of the Puget Sound glistening to the west and the floor-to-ceiling window displays beckoning from Alexandria Rossoff Jewels & Rare Finds. Situated across from the regal Fairmont Olympic Hotel on a stretch glittering with luxury shops, the jewel box boutique specializes in pieces from the Art Deco, Victorian, and Edwardian eras as well as collectible gems hand-plucked by owner Alexandria Rossoff during her world travels.
Much like a kaleidoscope tilting on its axis, the warm, inviting shop, with its burnt red–hued walls, cozy Persian rugs, and antique cases, swirls with a continuously changing vibe and look as Rossoff frequently, if not daily, reveals new vignettes. One day, her cases sparkle with vibrant jade jewels; on another, a display of demure cameo brooches delights. “I’m drawn to distinct finds and great workmanship rather than trends,” Rossoff says. “I look for timeless pieces that have a story.”
The tiny treasures on display are served with a side of history from the personable owner, who is a knowledgeable jewelry historian, a certified gemologist, and an appraiser to boot. “There is a uniqueness to antique pieces that is extremely compelling,” Rossoff says. “It’s so gratifying to see people light up when they hear about the history and technique that went into a piece they admire.”
Along the long wall opposite the glass front door sits the cornerstone of the business: the nearly 25-foot-long display case of engagement and wedding rings. An avid fan of old mine-cut diamonds, Rossoff carries options that are classic in style—baguette, European-cut, and oval cushion-set stones—but contain statement-worthy details like a Greek key pattern filigree mounting, a floral-shaped cluster of accent diamonds, or a milky tourmaline center stone. For clients who have it all, Rossoff’s in-house team is available for custom work.
MINING FOR TREASURE
An inveterate traveler, Rossoff has an intimate relationship with each piece in her shop, which she’s sourced from European flea markets, American estate sales, and even a Latin American market or two. “I have a policy that every piece has to go through my own two hands,” she explains. Those hands tend to snag strong geometric shapes, unusual sapphires and rubies, and anything from the Art Deco era—her personal favorite—to produce a diverse palette of choices. (Her pieces range in price from $150 to $200,000.) In addition to the thrill of the hunt, the shopkeeper loves the reincarnate nature of recycling gems. “Instead of mining our natural resources, I’m mining our existing treasure,” Rossoff explains. “Then I get the supreme pleasure of passing it along to the treasure hunter, who finds it themselves in the shop.”
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