The tour began at a café in the building where we sampled drinks and appetizers from Scholars. I started with the wine, tasting both the red and white options, a Chianti and Pinot Grigio. Normally I prefer red but on such a hot night, the Pinot Grigio was perfect.
I moved on to the appetizers, my favorite being the pastry shells filled with tuna tartare. The tuna was fresh and topped in a slightly spicy Asian style sauce.
The Scholars Rockefeller (baked oysters with spinach artichoke stuffing, and hollandaise sauce) was another favorite. I found this dish, essentially oysters topped with spinach dip, a creative way to combine oysters with more casual pub fare.
I also tried the vegetable spring rolls, pastries filled with lobster salad, and asparagus wrapped in proscuitto, which were all very tasty.
While we ate and sipped our wine, the owners of several of the stores we were about to visit spoke about the history of the building and some of their experiences. We learned that most of the businesses in the building are family owned, many third generation, and that they are divided roughly into one third retail, wholesale, and repair / design.
Our first stop on the tour was Harry Gigian Co, where we were invited into the back workshop to learn about the whole jewelry making process.
Next, we headed to Boston Platinum where I saw a three karat ring I would almost be too nervous to wear every day, and what might be my dream ring!
Then to Paul Duggan and Company a reseller of high end watches, where we saw several vintage pieces including bright colored retro Rolex’s from the 40s and 50s and a diamond studded Hamilton from the 1920s.
Our next couple of stops were to wholesalers not open to the public, including the self described “guy you’re never going to meet on the streets” who many of the jewelers in the building go to for their diamonds, and Boston Gems a gemstone wholesaler specializing in rare stones including unheated stones and moonstone.
The next stop was really two stops in one, Dubin Inc. and Pearly and Girly. Dubin Inc. is run by a mother – daughter team, and the daughter also has her own store within the store Pearly and Girly. Both stores sell to the public as well as do design and repairs, but Pearly and Girly caters to a younger crowd. The merchandise is more trendy and affordable with necklaces in the $40-$50 range and several convertible pieces. They have also done local events such as Shecky’s girls night out.
We continued on to Bernard's, which focuses on repairs and more recently started selling finished jewelry. There we looked at walls and shelves filled with watch bands, earing backs, pearls, beads, just about anything you could think of! We also learned that buying jumbo backs for heavy earrings that tilt forward will counter the weight and help hold them up.
Next we visited Suzanne Pearl and Beads, which specializes in custom beading and all different types of pearl jewelry (from traditional to modern). We saw looked at several pieces made with stick pearls, which was something I’d never seen and learned that the traditional pearls we imagine when we think of our “grandma’s pearls” are a Japanese round variety.
Next was Forever Diamond, where we admired some beautiful pieces and learned that they even rent high end jewelry.
Our next stop was Serjeo, a custom designer available by appointment only. He talked to us about the design process, and when we stepped into his back room I saw one of the most unique and impressive pieces of the night, an authentic Rolex clock he received as a gift for finishing a project for a high profile, VIP client.
Our next stop was Santisi and Bove, which was Kim’s (our main guide) store. We saw some absolutely gorgeous rings, and paused for a group picture to be featured in Foodie’s of New England!
Freedman Jewelers was next; we learned they do retail and custom design, and sell Samantha's charms. Samantha is a former attorney turned jeweler who created a line for mothers and daughters that has been featured on the Today Show and American Idol. The line includes matching animal charms, a smaller one for the daughter and larger charm for the mother.
Next was Mouradian, where we saw even more rings including diamonds and other stones.
The last stop was Brag, a seventh generation family owned jeweler with some beautiful pieces we got to admire before heading back to the café.
We finished the night with gifts (giant diamond paperweights) and more food and drink from Scholars. Thanks to the Boston Brunchers, Scholars, and all of the Jewelers for a great night!