337 S. Cedros Ave., Suite D, Solana Beach, Calif.
If you think North County San Diego is solely a laid-back surf haven, you probably haven’t yet discovered the myriad aesthetic pleasures of Solana Beach’s Cedros Avenue Design District. Some 85 businesses—from antique shops and art galleries to interior-decor and architecture studios to fashion boutiques and accessory emporiums—pack the eclectic two-and-a-half-block stretch. Among them: Linda Rocco’s glittering gemstone paradise, Hot Rock Jewelry.
Rough Around the Edges
Though the boutique showcases select pieces by Timothy Meier, Mark Maxwell, and Victor Velyan, Hot Rock stocks mostly Linda Rocco original designs—bold and whimsical rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pins, and even loose gemstones. The collection is divided into two sections: Rough and Refined. Rough pieces—designed to be worn every day—feature imaginative beading, earthy tones and textures, and reasonable price tags. (You can nab copper and black onyx drop earrings for just $50.) The Refined pieces incorporate gold, diamonds, and rarer gems (18 mm faceted white South Seas pearls, for example); those, Rocco explains, are made for the days when you want to “dress up and feel like a princess.”
Gems & Biology
According to the designer, we are all hard-wired to love jewelry. “Billions of years ago, before man or animals, the highest expression of God’s love was gemstones. We are made up of the same materials as gemstones—it’s biological!” preaches Rocco, who began making—and selling!—jewelry on the elementary-school playground (think feathers and macramé) before getting serious at the Glassell School of Art at Houston’s Museum of Fine Art and then at the Gemological Institute of America. Whether it’s deep purple amethyst, smoky quartz, creamy jade, or golden amber, Rocco unearths a unique story in every stone she works with. Gaze into her tourmaline, diamond, and 14k white-gold ring ($10,369), and you’ll swear you see an aquamarine ocean in the 3.54 ct. Afghan seafoam green tourmaline.
Design for Selling
When Rocco first visited the Cedros Avenue Design District, the area immediately resonated with her. “It’s offbeat, eccentric, and high-end—just like me!” laughs Rocco. Her vision for Hot Rock—which had its grand opening on Black Friday 2008—was the opposite of a traditional diamond-jewelry store: Warm tones and rich wood flooring shine throughout the 450-square-foot boutique. Jewelry is displayed in glass cases, atop slabs of stone imported from India with rough pebbles scattered between. The layout reflects the Rough and Refined divide—as does the clientele, a diverse mix of tourists and locals with tastes as varied as the store’s colorful collection. The only rule? “If you don’t love it,” Rocco says, “you can’t have it!”
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