420 South Palafox St., Pensacola, Fla.
In the 455 years since Spanish conquistador Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano set anchor in its bay, Pensacola, aka the City of Five Flags, has fallen under various rules: Spanish, British, French, Confederate, and U.S. That cultural heritage is alive and well in downtown Pensacola’s vibrant urban core, particularly on the main thoroughfare, Palafox Street—home to eclectic boutiques like Susan Campbell Jewelry. After opening in 2006 in the historic Seville district, the shop moved to Palafox. “Everything is so small and intimate,” says owner Susan Campbell Hatler, who relocated to the 122-year-old Artisan building a few months ago. “When you’re elbow to elbow with someone at the coffee shop, it creates a sense of community and interest.”
Inside the gallery-esque shop, exposed brick and original archways—juxtaposed with elegant chandeliers, metal cases, and clean track lighting—create a delightful mix of Old World charm and modern aesthetics. The carefully crafted window dressings are works of art in their own right, from long and elegant white branches dripping with her most dazzling jewels to a backdrop of hanging contemporary mirrors. “It’s kind of like an art installation,” says the retailer of her rotating displays. “But they’re so much fun, especially when you have friends or teammates working with you.”
Always on the lookout for fine, one-of-a-kind jewelry meant to last a lifetime, Campbell Hatler defines her aesthetic as simply “anything inspired.” With some two dozen designers on display—and a few of her own lines—she favors the handmade over factory-produced. She admires the abstract quality of Lauren K’s boulder opal and gemstone pieces; Suzanne Kalan’s baguettes and Moritz Glik’s diamond shake line are popular as well.
A Pensacola native with an art history background, Campbell Hatler spent years honing her creative and business skills in New Orleans, where she worked for jewelers Thomas Mann and Katy Beh and attended the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. During those years, she developed a fondness for traditional methods of metalworking, experimenting with everything from welding to sculpture. “I loved the getting-dirty process. The torches, the heat, the flame—it was such a break from being a girl,” she says. That interest informs not only her designer choices—“I love Sarah Graham’s use of modern metals like steel”—but also her own work: Her SAM collection features hand-sculpted mix-and-match charms ($35–$895) in sterling silver and 14k yellow, white, and pink gold.
Pearls, however, are Campbell Hatler’s personal favorite; they’re “the most amazing natural gemstone!” Her own wide-ranging SCJ Pearls collection starts at under $100 (a freshwater leather wrap bracelet) and goes well over $10,000. “I love that pearls aren’t just white,” she says, citing “lovely” pink palette pearls, black Tahitians, and “very beautiful and rare” faceted pink pearls. “The irregularities in shape are what make them unique.”
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