1600 Boulder St., Denver
Around the block from Denver landmarks Little Man Ice Cream and Linger (the Olinger mortuary turned restaurant) is a new regional hot spot for local artisan jewelry. Metalmark prides itself on its community-friendly atmosphere. Each night, before or after grabbing a coveted cone at the Little Man milk jug, families freely stroll through the boutique.
Metalmark, which welcomes passersby with a simple desert-pink outline of its namesake butterfly, is the 1-year-old collaboration of Indianapolis natives and childhood friends Mary Leppert (pictured, above left) and Samantha Larkins (above right). “I never thought I would open a store,” says Leppert, who started in jewelry retail and recalls her employers taking little time to enjoy life outside the store. “But we have good priorities.” As for Larkins, a designer with her own brand, Samantha Louise: “I knew I wanted to be a jewelry designer in high school after taking a glass bead–making class.” She soon figured out how to discreetly use a torch to make beads in her bedroom. “Luckily nothing ever caught fire,” Larkins laughs. When she made the move to Denver about 10 years ago, Leppert followed.
“People see us coming into the boutique wearing our jeans; they bring their dogs and kids and are welcome,” says Larkins.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ROCKS
About 60 percent of the designers stocked at Metalmark are Colorado-based—starting with Larkins, whose signature is rich, matte-finished 18k yellow gold. (One of her favorite pieces? Her gold petal earring jackets: “I love pairing them with a classic diamond stud to feel edgy and sophisticated.”) The whitewashed cases, created by Leppert and Larkins, also feature delicate modern geometric styles by Colorado brands Amour Absolu and Belle & Bone; cross motif pieces inspired by the mineral staurolite from New Mexico–based Diane Dorsey; and, in a nod to the owners’ Midwestern roots, organic inverted diamond designs by Cleveland’s TAP by Todd Pownell. The boutique caters to Coloradans heading to the theater or to a hike—in other words, jewelry made to be worn in multiple settings. Leppert points to a Rahaminov diamond matchstick necklace that could easily go from work to dinner: “It’s fine jewelry with a twist,” she says, “and I’m always a sucker for that combo!”
The store is honoring Denver with a 14k gold cuff that outlines the skyline, the Rocky Mountains to the west, and starry skies above illuminated by diamonds. While the brand Katherine & Josephine also has created cuffs featuring cities such as London and Paris, the retailers have developed such a strong love for their adopted hometown that they requested one exclusively for Metalmark. Of both her designers and patrons, Leppert says, “we are creating this community of people for us to work with.”
(Photography by Rebecca Stumpf; still life photos courtesy of Metalmark)