2111-E Vine St., Berkeley, Calif.
Nestled among bustling eateries and quaint wood houses on a tree-lined street in Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto” is a jewelry boutique that fits right in with the neighborhood’s down-to-earth appeal. Zaver & Mor, a 750-square-foot homage to local sustainable jewelry design, feels more like a home, which was exactly what owner Rada Sahney was aiming for. “I wanted people to feel like they were walking into somebody’s living room,” says the affable entrepreneur, who manages the store herself. Sahney’s personal touch and careful selection of mostly handmade pieces reflect her roots in India, where jewelry is revered. As Sahney puts it: “Part of a woman’s true soul is her jewelry.”
Sahney wanted the shop’s decor to tell a story. Peppered along the walls are framed black-and-white photographs depicting everyday life in India, taken from a musty old album unearthed at an estate sale. Her one-of-a-kind jewelry displays—including an old case that Grace Slick from the 1960s band Jefferson Airplane used to store her guitar—were sourced mostly at local flea markets. “I’m all about heritage and finding things that have a sense of history,” Sahney says.
The store is located half a block away from the birthplace of the local food movement, the venerable restaurant Chez Panisse. So it seems fitting that Sahney would place emphasis on local artists, many of whom craft their wares by hand and use recyclable metals. Eleven of her 14 designers are California- or Bay Area–based. “It’s important for me as a human being to be responsible, so I really appreciate local,” Sahney says. She stocks heavy-hitters like San Francisco–based Sethi Couture and Rebecca Overmann, as well as emerging local designers including Andrea Bonelli and Sharon Zimmerman. Sahney describes her pieces as contemporary meets fine jewelry. “It’s not Harry Winston, but it’s also not Forever 21,” she says.
Sahney was deliberate when designing the layout of her wares. The jewelry cases snake around the room, displaying contemporary jewelry in the front and the finer pieces at the back. “Contemporary is more eye-catching and it is less intimidating,” says Sahney. Standout pieces include an unusual vertebrae bracelet cast in bronze from Corey Egan ($290), while an 18k gold and diamond ring from Sethi Couture ($5,400) represents the finer end of the spectrum.
Sahney often can be seen standing outside Zaver & Mor chatting with locals and curious passersby. “I like to talk to people and build friendships,” she explains. A sunken dark-brown leather sofa and glass coffee table (often adorned with flowers) sit in the center of the room as glass chandeliers glint above. Often people will flop down on the couch and while away the hours, doing work or simply making small talk. “I wanted people to feel they could put their feet up,” she says. An animal skin rug and a horse sculpture from Sahney’s own home give the space a personal touch. She and her husband live across the bridge in San Francisco, but the daily commute doesn’t bother her. “It’s such a warm and friendly neighborhood,” she says. “I feel lucky to be part of this community.”
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