For my birthday, my husband took the day off, and we spent the afternoon in the Los Angeles Jewelry District. We have this tradition where he and I play hookie on my birthday and do something fun, just the two of us. I love it. I used to hate my birthdays but now I soak up all the attention I can get.
My friends had a surprise Belly Dancing Party for me this year which was a blast!
And did you see my post about my friend’s surprise YOLO Bday Dance Party? So fun!
Ok. Back to jewelry.
We visited a few stores at the LA Jewelry District and then had lunch at Bottega Louie (which is a block from the Los Angeles jewelry district). It was a great day.
Jewelry is my specialty. My parents were jewelers in South Korea, and my mom tells me that my love for diamonds stems from being in her womb while she was in gemology school.
Shopping in the Los Angeles Jewelry District
Below are tips on how to have a successful jewelry shopping experience in the Los Angeles Jewelry District
Know which stores you will visit.
You really need to know where you are going and what you are looking for before visiting, as the number of places to shop can be overwhelming.
Where you shop will depend largely on what you want to buy. I was on the hunt for some gold bangle bracelets to complement my existing diamond bracelets.
I wanted a good general jeweler with a fairly large selection of existing inventory. I did not want to order something to pick up at a later date.
Keep in mind, a good jeweler can make any design you want. But generally, this will take about 4 weeks and there will be less room to negotiate on price.
Know the general retail prices for what you are looking to purchase.
What is the general price of gold? Do you want 14k or 18k? Maybe platinum? What are the price of diamonds in the size and quality you are looking for? What quality is acceptable to you?
Generally, higher end jewelers like to use clarity SI 1s for their bracelet diamonds, even when using small stones. However, you can go down to SI 2s without compromising sparkle.
I was looking for eternity diamond bangles as the high end of my budget, so I did some internet research to get a general sense of price.
Appraisal and Diamond Quality Certificates are not necessary for diamonds less than 1 carat. Jewelers like to tout these certificates to support the value of what they are selling. They are generally worthless. For diamonds more than 1 carat, I rely only on GIA certificates.
Work with jewelers who understand your style.
There are traditional jewelers who focus on basic and timeless pieces. But there are also jewelers who are more artistic and current with their jewelry styles. I love to find new pieces that are unique and current, yet elegant. I love jewelers who take pride in their designs.
Workmanship is very important.
What is their maintenance service? Warranty? Can you return the item? Can you upgrade in the future? How long have they been in business? You want to be confident that the merchant will be around when you need them.
Retail vs. Wholesale
Generally, don’t buy jewelry retail unless you are buying something very specific that only that retailer sells. If you are buying a diamond tennis bracelet or band, go to the jewelry district because prices will be about 40% less than the prices at retail stores.
Have I purchased retail? Yes. I have purchased from Tiffany’s and Van Cleef & Arpels. I also shopped at retail jeweler 23rd Street Jewelers. I worked with a woman named Joni Hamilton, who is a gifted jewelry designer. I wanted her help to design and create a few pieces with existing stones I owned. They are conveniently located down the street from me. I wanted to work with a jeweler who I could trust with my stones. This retailer has a great reputation. The pieces 23rd Street Jewelers made for me are exquisite, but I definitely paid a premium.
Joni has since opened up her own store in Hermosa Beach, CA called Hamilton Butler. I’d say it’s worth giving Joni a visit because she is sooo good at designing and picking jewelry. She will guide your husband/boyfriend well. Tell her I sent you. Maybe she will give you a small discount (don’t kill me, Joni!).
My recommendation is to go to the Los Angeles Jewelry District for loose stones and pieces for which you already have an idea of the design. If your budget allows, go to boutique retail stores for designer or one of a kind, higher end pieces and when you want more consultation or hand holding.
We found these 18 karat bangles at Capri Jewelry. There was one in rose gold and one in white gold. They have a cluster of diamonds every third portion of the bracelet. I love the pounded metal in matte finish. The asymmetry of the metal gave these bracelets a very hip look to balance out the traditional pieces I already own (Van Cleef & Arpels white gold and diamond bracelet, and a white gold eternity diamond bangle).
We Ended Up Liking 3 Jewelers at The Los Angeles Jewelry District
Capri Jewelry at 601 Hill Street: They have a display case on the first floor of this building that fronts the street. They were professional when dealing with me, and were very fair in their pricing.
The store is owned and operated by a father and two nephews. Gary had quoted me $470 for each bangle. After he quoted me, he realized he had quoted for 14k instead of 18k gold, but he honored his initial pricing.
They seemed like straight shooters and I will return. These bangles are heavy, feel durable and are beautiful. I think I got a great price for them since they were the last of their kind in inventory and he was ready to clear them out.
Balian & Sons at 607 S. Hill Street, Suite 340: We met Edward Balian, the owner of Balian & Sons. I thought he had a good selection of newer styles. He was also very passionate about his designs.
Once we started talking, he showed us a wedding ring set he was designing for a couple who had very detailed specifications. He explained the process of making the rings, and I could tell he has a love for his craft.
He has been in business for 45 years and sells to retail stores as well as customers.
SN Queens at 607 S. Hill Street, Suite 550: This jeweler produces for high end retailers in the LA area and is worth a visit. Sylva was very helpful and knowledgeable.
They had gorgeous jewelry all around and were my favorite as far as level of choice. They occupy space in this building for a boutique to sell to the public, a store for wholesale to retailers and space where they handcraft their own jewelry.
Silva stressed their workmanship levels being above most places in the district due to their in house, hand crafted process. They can make any piece of jewelry you want and stand by their products. If a stone falls out or a link breaks, the service to fix it will be complementary.
We worked up an appetite while visiting the stores. Luckily, we found Bottega Louie on our way to the car. The vibe of the restaurant is hip like restaurants in New York City, with high ceilings and a large open space. We had the most delicious lunch. Dessert is notable as well, but cost a fortune. There is also a dessert counter with all kinds of delectables. Each dessert is about $15, so pick a good one and savor it!
So now you know where to shop and eat when shopping for jewelry. What more can you ask for? LOL. I hope this helps you find the piece you’ve been dreaming about! Tell them I sent you! Maybe they’ll offer a giveaway for one of my followers!