Designer Mallory Shelter debuted her fine jewelry collection, Mallory Shelter Jewelry, while working at popular Washington, D.C., homewares shop Salt & Sundry in 2014—and she quickly found a local following for her delicate, hand-hammered pieces.
Now Shelter’s entering retail with a bang. The 30-year-old designer has opened the first new freestanding independent fine jewelry store D.C.’s seen in eons.
Shelter, her jewelry and accessories boutique that opened last week in the city’s trendy Union Market district, showcases the designer’s pieces alongside several emerging jewelry lines that are already beloved in style capitals including New York and Los Angeles, but have yet to establish a presence in the nation’s capital—one of the wealthiest U.S. cities (but one that high-fashion retailers have famously shied away from).
Jewelry brands including Melissa Joy Manning, Bario Neal, Ariel Gordon, Page Sargisson, Alchemilla, Sarah Swell, and Suzanne Kalan mingle with vintage jewelry Shelter handpicks—and, of course, her own collection—at the shop. The airy, industrial space also houses Shelter’s new studio, which is fronted by glass, so shoppers can watch her work.
The 1,087-square-foot store is tucked inside a revamped historic 5th Street building—its age evidenced by its charming restored vintage windows and salvaged steel doors. Juxtaposing the retro chicness are earthy wooden jewelry cases and a cash wrap custom-made and hand-carved by Foxwood Co., a North Carolina furniture company that launched in D.C.
Shelter, who started in jewelry by creating vintage and heirloom resets and received her diamond training (but not full gemological degree) at GIA, says that while she was creating her collection and working in local retail, she noticed D.C.’s dearth of shopping opportunities that don’t specifically target the super affluent.
“There are a lot of really high-end stores in D.C., and they’re really fantastic, but there was no real mid-range jewelry store in the city,” Shelter says. “I knew and loved lots of jewelers who had no presence here at all. I mulled the idea for a store over for a while, then last year I really decided to do it. I pictured a concept that would be a hybrid—a studio space where shoppers could see me working and see my line, and also a place to buy designers from all over the country.”
The jeweler also creates custom bridal jewelry—a business she hopes to grow with the retail venture.
As a fledgling retailer, Shelter says she has a personal mandate to support women-owned businesses and plans to create a mentorship program for up-and-coming jewelers looking to make their mark at retail.
“I was so lucky when I started—people were so nice to me. I remember calling Maya Brenner and being like ‘Teach me your ways!'” she says with a laugh. “I hope I can return that favor and help get people get up and running.”
Top: Jewelry and retailer Mallory Shelter in her new store, Shelter (all images courtesy of Shelter)