235 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham, Mich.
Take a step into Birmingham’s tony downtown shopping district, and you’d have a hard time believing all the stories about Detroit’s urban devastation and blue-collar denizens. The community’s tree-lined streets are filled with upscale doggie bakeries, five-star eateries, and retailers with designer duds fresh from Fashion Week. With its sleek, modern mentality, Marcy Feldman’s Heartwear Designs fits nicely into the nabe’s rarefied atmosphere.
Marcy Feldman graduated from the University of Michigan with a teaching degree and no job prospects. It was 1970, and the only work she could find was for Motif Manufacturing, a Detroit jewelry maker. “Normally, they hired the physically disabled. My disability was I was a woman,” she says. But that one-year stint gave her a crash course in the business. “I started making jewelry in my basement”—taking her artistic aesthetic and melding it with gold, silver, and gemstones. Her husband, Michael, put his legal career on hold to act as business manager. He set up wholesale relationships with retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Fortunoff, and they set out on the nationwide juried art-fair circuit.
When a life on the road proved wearisome for the family of five, the Feldmans set up shop in a Birmingham office-building basement in 2004. Four years ago, they moved into their current airy 1,000-square-foot storefront and workshop. “We wanted a space that felt like an art gallery in SoHo. You can walk around as if it were somebody’s home,” Marcy says. Wooden floors covered with paint were stripped and refinished. They added a custom door handle that incorporates major design elements from Marcy’s Geometrix collection. The couple’s passion for recycling old into new is reflected by the 8-by-8-foot wall mirror they repurposed and the jewelry displays picked up at a bankruptcy sale; glass tops adorn the cases’ travertine-marble pedestals.
The Feldmans greet every customer with two offers: the first is to clean their jewels; the second is for iced tea in the summer or a bowl of oatmeal when the snow flies. It is this sense of whimsy that filters through Marcy’s work, all of which is created in-house on a small workbench located behind the retail space. Her Geometrix collection of sterling necklaces ($140–$450) combines hard squares and polished triangles with feminine circles. Her ethereal hammered bracelets ($330–$1,200) float lightly over the wrist. Then there are her earrings ($75–$1,200)—delicate semiprecious bezels, modern matte silver–set diamond studs, powerful statement drops contrasting black drusy quartz with white akoya pearls.
Where the Art Is
Heartwear also features work by other artists, such as 77-year-old Barbara SilverStein, who knits Swarovski crystals into stainless steel mesh, and sparkling glassware by Andrew Wu and Mark Sudduth. But Marcy’s favorite pieces are the fresh designs she creates from old jewels. She recently updated a client’s gold and diamonds into a new engagement ring; then she transformed bracelet links and tiny baguettes into diamond and pearl earrings. “What we do is very personal—and it’s fun. We love to make people happy,” says Marcy, who’s been happily married to Michael for 42 years. “We picked the name Heartwear because it is jewelry given from the heart. The art in Heartwear says it all.”
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