Lauren Wolf studied jewelry design in the mountains of Mexico and established her own line in New York City before opening Esqueleto (Spanish for skeleton) in Oakland in 2011. The airy boutique and gallery reflects Wolf’s organic yet refined aesthetic and draws in shoppers looking for original and ethically sourced pieces, including Wolf’s one-of-a-kind engagement rings. "Nontraditional bridal jewelry is something people continue to be interested in and excited about," Wolf says. shopesqueleto.com.
"Personalization has always been at the heart of my design inspiration," says Ariel Gordon. "Whether it’s [incorporating] birthstones or hand-engraving custom elements, there’s something that feels both of-the-moment and everlasting about a piece that’s personalized just for you." The former publicist and current East Bay resident began producing her eponymous line of handmade jewelry in Los Angeles in 2009, and her subtle yet glamorous designs have appeared in numerous national publications and on celebrities walking the red carpet. Head to Oakland’s McMullen boutique to discover more of Gordon’s delicate work. arielgordonjewelry.com.
Environmental responsibility meets extraordinary design in Melissa Joy Manning’s handmade work. The cochair of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Sustainability Committee, Manning uses recycled gold and silver and traditional metalsmithing techniques to avoid waste. Although her jewelry reflects a modern sensibility, she hopes it also makes a lasting statement. "I work in direct partnership with customers to create heirlooms that are meant to be treasured for a lifetime," Manning says. Find her unique products at her Berkeley store. melissajoymanning.com.
Bay Area native Kate Ellen found her artistic calling during a beginner’s metalsmithing class at The Crucible industrial-arts center; four years later, in 2011, the former teacher and social worker opened her own jewelry shop, Crown Nine. The intimate, welcoming space in Old Oakland offers chic pieces for everyday wear as well as elegant and eye-catching bridal jewelry. "Our clients are currently obsessing over Montana sapphires [seen at bottom left]," Ellen notes. "[They are] an artisanal and sustainably mined alternative to a traditional diamond engagement ring and come in a rainbow of dynamic colors that change in different lighting." crown-nine.com.