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“One foot in the past, one foot in the present." That’s how Emily Duffelmeyer, owner and operator of Jean Jean Vintage, described her completed high-end antique jewelry store in REO Town.
“I wanted to create an entire experience for my customers, for which I relentlessly pursued this property until I got it,” she said.
The building occupied by was originally a shoe store back in 1937. Duffelmeyer said that she fell in love with the limestone, the curved yellow top which looks like chrome, and the huge geometric windows.
“It’s just so classic art deco, I feel really lucky to have it,” she said.
Even before entering the space, customers will be greeted by real 23k gold lettering on her door, which was painted by Detroit artist Kelly Golden.
The process took her a couple of days, said Duffelmeyer, starting with a little box of 23k hand hammered foil, basically squares, which she would just tap to set the adhesive and trim the excess away.
“It looks good in any light, if it’s a cloudy day or sunny day.”
She also meticulously designed the store herself, after completely overhauling the electric, HVAC, plumbing and the roof of the old structure.
Working with a local architecture firm, Jorgensen Architecture, who encouraged her uncommon interior choices of dark walls and a black ceiling, she picked out her color palette based on a wallpaper on the back wall.
“I picked out the wallpaper from a very obscure company in New York. It has a very low contrast while being very elemental with a murky primordial green which is also luxurious.”
The space echoes her aesthetic which she said is not bright and glamorous but more focused on the jewelry as artifacts.
“If you walk in, it’s kind of like stepping into a darker space. It's welcoming. It feels old but also contemporary and there’s lot of textual elements like the marble prints, the wood, the heavy glass cases, the concrete and the minerals in the terrazzo.”
She wants this space to feel different than any other jewelry store and has plans for adding new jewelry and designers eventually.
“I want to have modern designers because women wear both old and new jewelry together.”
For the opening weekend, she has planned a couple of giveaways, an antique ring and a collection of earrings from a modern designer.
“I want people to come in and try things. The jewelry wants to be worn."
She hopes customers will pore will take time to pore over the old catalogs and talk about their own jewelry.
Her present collection consists of necklaces and rings, mostly costume necklaces from the 1920s and 1930s, like Czechoslovakian glass jewelry. Most of the rings are fine jewelry, gold and gemstones.
“I have pieces from $30 all the way up to $14,000, so it’s a big range.”
In the future, she wants to work with other small businesses and carry their stuff in the store. She already has an orchid from Where the Wild Things Bloom near one of the jewelry cases.
“I am really interested in education, bringing in some professors and students from MSU and showing jewelry specific to a time period.”
Jean Jean Vintage
1136 S. Washington Ave. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Saturday By appointment, Monday-Thursday (517) 220-4184 facebook.com/ jeanjeanvintage/