I’d been receiving the emails counting down the days until Studio Collections would be closing its doors. I’ve written about this gem of a jewelry store right off the Sonoma Square for some years now.
(Here’s a favorite post about Deborah who worked there and rocked an eclectic style.)
I’m happy to call Bess Nathan Rice, the owner of Studio Collections, a friend. Her jewelry designs filled her narrow store along with an enviable stable of artists. Besides being the place to find unique jewelry, it was a gathering ground of cool people. Everyone seems to know Bess and anytime I was in her store, it was filled with interesting people with great stories.
Selecting jewelry for my clients
When clients needed to add jewelry to their own collections, I’d stop by and see Bess.
I’d have Bess pull pieces from the display cases that I thought would work for a client. She’d arrange my selection in a display case the day before I’d leave to see my client in Marin or the East Bay or San Franciso. I’d return with an empty case.
They appreciated the unique rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings that came from Bess’ store. I sit here at the keyboard and know exactly which accessories my clients own. When I’m styling outfits for my clients, clothing pieces get changed out but the jewelry keeps working. There was nothing trendy about Bess’ collections. You can imagine all the Beauty Bundles I’ve created that have her pieces at the heart of them.
We say goodbye to this magical jewelry store
Sunday, September 15th, was the closing day. Bess’ lease ran out and she couldn’t find a suitable place to relocate. But that sent her into new ideas. She wants to continue designing and perhaps she’ll have a studio where she’ll show her work by appointment only. For now, she’s going to rest.
She had the store for twelve years which is a long time in retail years. When she announced several weeks ago that she’d be closing, you could feel the community gasp. It’s such a part of the Sonoma experience. It seemed impossible to imagine not having Studio Collections to drop in on any day of the week.
She’s a masterful artist and a masterful shopkeeper. We all felt like she was our best friend and confidant.
Russ and I stop by one last time
Russ and I were out and about on the store’s last day. I looked at my watch and said, “If we leave Glen Ellen right now, we can get by Studio Collections and say goodbye to Bess.”
We got there for the last thirty minutes. There were lots of hugs and kisses and well wishes. And then there was a little bit of shopping.
Russ and I were leaning into one of the jewelry cases when he asked Bess about a silver cuff he saw. She pulled it out and he tried it on. It was grand. Russ fussed about the scale. He was used to wearing thinner cuffs together. Bess and I gently but firmly dismissed that idea. He’s a tall, striking guy. He can wear larger scale pieces.
“Look at it again, Honey,” I said and steered him to the mirror. Russ isn’t the kind of person who declares his appreciation of things with grandiose exclamations. For him to say, “I quite like it,” meant he REALLY liked it.
I wanted to be sure he’d wear it so I probed a little deeper. He said, “The thing I like about it is you wouldn’t see others wearing one like this.”
“Honey, I see you try on silver cuffs whenever you come across them. This one is the most handsome one I’ve seen on you. And look, you can still wear more than one cuff at the same time.”
He kept his eye on it while I moved his wrist from the right to the left.
Bess said, “Well if you can’t stop thinking about it, you know where to find me.”
That’s when I said, “I want to buy it for you.” I could easily predict how much enjoyment he’d have wearing it.
Bess writes up the final sale
It made me so happy to be the person holding the receipt of the final sale at Studio Collections. I don’t think Bess could understand how much joy she’s brought to so many people, even people like my clients outside of Sonoma who never met her in person.
Personal jewelry is so, well, personal. The essence of a piece we wear a lot can becomes an integral expression of who we are.
The difference one woman can make
I couldn’t let this occasion pass without sharing the difference this one very talented woman made over her twelve years of having her retail shop in Sonoma.
Bess, you know how much I love you, adore you, believe in you, cherish you. Just like so many others do. You deserve to rest as long as you wish. Your fans will be here for whatever new adventure you decide to take us on.
As part of this love letter to Bess and Studio Collections, I invite you to share stories about jewelry that’s made a big impact on you. Do you have pieces that were passed down to you or were gifted to you? Did you splurge on something that continues to bring you great pleasure? Let’s share the love of jewelry!