3406 Rosedale Ave., Dallas
Tucked between trendy fitness studios and chic clothing boutiques lies Designer Jewelry Atelier, an unassuming Dallas storefront filled with jewelry that’s anything but ordinary. The store itself would make a great place for quiet repose: There’s soft light, courtesy of a twinkling antique chandelier; raw wood tables flanked by Moroccan-inspired mirrors and geodes; and glass shelves held up by distressed wood beams. The decor itself is much like the jewelry it spotlights. As owner Vanessa Maxey says, both are “natural, peaceful, and relaxed but have amazing details that catch your eye.”
Designer Jewelry Atelier has been around since 2007, and Maxey has worked there since the beginning as in-store designer, manager, and buyer. It wasn’t long before she was inspired to take the next step and enroll at the GIA in Carlsbad, Calif. After earning her degree and returning to Dallas, Maxey received an offer she couldn’t refuse: the chance to take ownership of the Atelier. “I had been the face of the shop, and [then-owner Suzana Gordon] knew I loved working there so much,” Maxey says. “In February 2014, I took over and started the rebranding.”
Maxey has had a passion for jewelry and stones ever since she can remember. “I used to make clay jewelry in the kitchen as a kid,” she says. “I never realized it could actually be a job.” Her designs—which compose about a third of the shop’s inventory—veer toward raw materials such as leather and semiprecious stones. “I like things that feel glamorous but down to earth,” she says. “It starts with inspiration from a pattern, color, or texture or even my travels. From there, I will do a light sketch to lay the idea out.”
In the Mix
Maxey sums up her buying mantra as “things that stand out but are still versatile.” Apart from her own works, Designer Jewelry Atelier carries some 15 artists, local and national. “I try to find designers that complement the collections we have in store. But I want designers who aren’t necessarily well known in Dallas,” says the retailer, citing Renee Garvey, Todd Reed, and Sarah McGuire as a few of the clients’ favorites. And she doesn’t discriminate when it comes to price points: A Gold & Gray wood-beaded tassel bracelet retailing for about $30 sits next to a Todd Reed rough diamond ring that sells for more than $2,000. Garvey’s $150 matte brass earrings mingle easily with Margery Hirschey’s $3,200 triple-drop tourmaline earrings.
Currently, Maxey is focused on her new e-commerce site (nearly everything in the store is listed online). She’s also on the hunt for a second location. Eventually, she’d like to expand to other cities, but for now another Dallas store is her goal. “It’s the locals that keep me going,” she says. “The daughters, mothers, grandmothers—they all shop for each other. We have the best clients in Dallas. They feel like family.”
Photographs by Terri Glanger