Brooklyn Jeweler Liloveve Puts the “Work” in Workshop

Liloveve turns its clients into jewelers and its store into a community

Brooklyn’s legendary creative scene often focuses on painting, photography, or music, but store owner Caroline Glemann had a feeling that her highly expressive neighbors would also enjoy the art of adornment. This long-held belief inspired the opening of Williamsburg’s Liloveve, a comprehensive ­jewelry destination that further explores the relationship (and often fine line) between designer and customer. Whether hosting curated gallery events in her street-level storefront or conducting classes in the fully equipped lower-level workshop, Glemann has designed a practical environment able to meet the needs of a hands-on community of eager entrepreneurs.  

What kind of customer does your shop attract?
Usually someone very focused on the idea of custom jewelry and the art of making something by hand. These days, people don’t want to leave the process up to the jeweler. They’re not content picking a standard semi-mount and looking at a diamond certificate; they really want to know where the materials come from. We also do a lot of “upcycling,” or using sentimental jewelry to create something new. The ideas of recycling and personalization are becoming more important.

Engagement rings are your biggest seller. How do you differ from other stores?
We want to give our clients a very clear understanding of each piece of the puzzle. After a consultation, we’ll source stones and then do a private “Diamond 101” that includes diagrams, pricing, and a discussion of the characteristics of the diamonds. Comparing stones in person—from ­colors to shapes—is far different than looking at statistics on a piece of paper. If we custom-design an engagement ring or wedding bands, I’ll often include a little booklet of photographs upon delivery of the piece. I take shots while I’m working so a couple can really understand the process and just how labor-intensive the production really is.

How did you initially envision the workshop?
We really wanted it to feel like the space is a community resource. Students can inexpensively rent bench time to work on their own projects, or they can sign up for a wide range of specialized classes ranging from beginner to advanced. We specialize in hand work and have equipment on site for soldering, enameling, wax carving, and setting. Clients who commission wedding bands can even join me at the bench to learn and contribute to their own rings.

Special events are central to your community approach. What is your strategy?
We put together curated, themed events every couple of months or so. The main space can be opened to the street and has a flexible gallery layout, so it’s perfect for large groups. The last one was called “Jewelry and Weaponry,” and last year we did a whole event inspired by honey. In addition to jewelry made by myself and local artisans, there were sculptures, paintings, and even jarred local honey from a neighborhood producer. Everything is for sale. I also do one all-student show per year, and it’s a great way for them to show off their work and to have something for their résumé.

Are these gallery shows financially successful?
The great part is that even when we don’t sell at a show, people will come back because something inspired them. Partnering with other artists also gives us extra press since they are promoting the event to their friends, family, and customers. Positive word of mouth is our best form of advertising.

Have your students gone on to have commercial success?
Yes! It’s rewarding and exciting to see a student launch a line. Some of them sell on Etsy or at craft fairs, but we often see students returning for extra bench time or advanced coursework. Plus, our educational services don’t stop at manufacturing—we also spend a lot of time discussing business and production and the basics of getting started in the industry. It’s all about cultivating the community and the understanding of the craft of ­jewelry making.

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