19 N. Belmont Ave., Richmond, Va.
Dating back to the early 17th century, Richmond, Va., is steeped in history. But retail and real-life partners Nick DeRosa and Eliza Spell are determined to push the capital city’s fine jewelry offerings into the future. The duo opened Nine Roses, in the picturesque Museum District, in a former bookstore in April 2015 to fill a void in the local landscape: fashion-forward fine jewelry for newbie buyers and seasoned collectors alike. The shop’s smartly edited, accessible inventory ($500–$1,000 is the current sweet spot)—heavy on artisanal, small-scale pieces from brands such as Communion, Mociun, and Jennie Kwon—mirrors the vibe of its irreverent decor. Think classic cartoons with a dash of Ancient Greece. “We spend a lot of time here,” says DeRosa. “We want to like it.”
Magic in the Mix
“Every single thing you see, we had to do ourselves,” says DeRosa, who with a carpenter friend rebuilt the minimalist glass cases that wrap around the store in an L shape. The configuration leaves plenty of room for a cozy-cool sitting area that includes a white wingback chair (taken from his mom’s house) and a sofa with a shapely wooden frame bought at a consignment shop. A hefty Grateful Dead tome—which DeRosa has taken to calling “man’s best friend”—rests on the table: “I can’t tell you how many times dudes have started talking about their experiences with the Dead just sitting there, flipping through that book.” Nearby, an original Felix the Cat painting by Spell, whose background is in fine art, hangs near a stately, classic crystal chandelier.
“I started making jewelry because I was a crystal collector,” DeRosa says. Faceted crystal—in the flesh and as a design motif—is everywhere at Nine Roses. Colored crystals fill the insides of the black -fabric–lined cases. The front window displays geometric, crystal-esque iron objets, teamed with a snarling ceramic tiger, oversized bronze candlesticks, and an ivory reproduction of a Greek sculpture of a woman. The shop’s most striking design element, a wall-size black-and-white work by local muralist Mickael Broth, shows huge crystals jutting up and out into a spare, spacey landscape.
The fledgling retailers, who had few connections with brands prior to Nine Roses, initially composed a list of around 200 “dream” brands, then whittled that down to a handful. DeRosa recalls with a laugh “the many early conversations that went like this—‘You call them. No, you call them.’?” Standouts include quirky pieces from Richmond brand CM•AU, which casts everyday items such as plastic zip ties in precious metals; bold geometric signet rings by Nvit Blanche; and colored diamond gold rings by Elizabeth Street. A house line may be in the works (they recently signed a lease on a nearby studio). But the pair is focused on the present. “We have a lot of ideas,” says Spell. “We’re really trying to not get ahead of ourselves.”
Photographs by Jay Westcott