There’s an easygoing elegance to Dawn Hendricks.
It’s introduced in her casual-yet-sophisticated (and often black) wardrobe. It’s echoed in her focused-yet-friendly demeanor. And, perhaps most tellingly, it’s brought home through the distinctive-yet-understated jewelry she’s wearing on a recent morning.
Together, these elements combine, we notice right away, to form an impression that extends to her boutique, Peridot Fine Jewelry in Larchmont.
Within the airy, gallery-like space nestled into Palmer Avenue, Peridot offers a warm welcome that’s anything but a screaming, “Look at me.”
Instead, the curated collection — a selection of often one-of-a-kind creations by designers hand-picked by Hendricks — awaits discovery. Customers are encouraged to try things on, to ask questions and to learn about the artists and their stories.
It is, in short, all about the personal touch. And that’s just the way Hendricks envisioned things when she launched the business nearly 15 years ago at another space within the village.
“The design has always been very clean and really hasn’t changed since 2002,” Hendricks says of the gallery atmosphere created by sleek cases devoted to single designers. It was back in 2014 that Hendricks settled into this spot, larger than the original and after operating a second space for a time in Greenwich.
No matter the location, it’s always been about creating an environment that “allowed the jewelry to speak,” she says.
And speak it does.
“My background is display. It’s visual. You can have the most beautiful jewelry in the world but if you don’t display it right, it becomes a jungle.”
A JEWELRY JOURNEY
Hendricks starts an impromptu tour — one that introduces a visitor to each of the designers on hand — with the work of Caroline Ellen, “one of our premier designers.” It is, she shares, “completely handmade in New York,” with a sophisticated — definitely “not crafty” — appeal.
Then, there’s the work of Anne Sportun: “We’ve sold her rings since the day we opened.”
A personal, often longstanding, relationship with the designers allows Hendricks to present the jewelry in a unique way.
“You tell the story of someone in a very different way once you’ve met them.”
As she walks from case to case, Hendricks shares points of interest, introducing Kothari Design (“an Indian designer out of Oakland,” Calif., known for “rustic” diamonds) and describing Brooklyn-based Yasuko Azuma’s approach to a particular piece (“The ring is basically made around the stone.”).
She touches on London-based Ruth Tomlinson’s lost-wax process, the lapidary work featured in Jamie Joseph’s line and the unique vision Brooklyn’s Rosanne Pugliese brings to a most traditional jewelry element. (“It’s definitely a reinterpretation of how you wear a pearl.”).
There are, also, names that have more widespread recognition. Hendricks is one of the few independent retailers carrying Cathy Waterman, who joined the mix some two years ago.
“She’s someone who has been exclusive nationally at Barneys. We were really attracted to her work. She has a really long history of iconic design.”
Shoppers will also see pieces from Temple St Clair.
“All her work is made in Italy,” Hendricks says.
And with motherly pride, Hendricks points to another best-selling line, The Brave Collection, founded by her daughter, Jessica Hendricks Yee. Handmade in Cambodia and designed to celebrate bravery and empower women across the globe, the symbolic jewelry provides job opportunities to artisans, with a portion of the profits donated to fight human trafficking in that country.
Hendricks, a longtime Larchmont resident, was born in Miami, schooled in Boston and lived in Paris for a time. She hit a pivotal moment when living in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
It was in that Hudson Valley community that she remembers being so impressed by the way a local shop, Hummingbird Jewelers, worked with one of its designers on a special request.
“We were just so fascinated that he had that one-to-one connection with the artist,” she says.
And she wanted to cultivate that same connection when she opened — a way of doing business that definitely was in place long before today’s de rigueur obsession with all things made by hand.
As Hendricks says with a laugh, “It was ‘Etsy,’ the maker. It was really ‘farm-to-table.’ We were doing it.”
And Hendricks has never wavered from those early days, while still keeping an eye on trends.
That is, she says, “part of the challenge, having something fresh and new but will age well.”
To that end, Hendricks remains aware but selective.
“Trends are so powerful. The wave comes no matter what,” she says. “We follow the trends to the extent we do. We want to be current, but on the other hand, we remain true to who we are.”
Peridot’s savvy clients — “It’s a customer who understands luxury but is also very practical” — appreciate what rounds the boutique out, from trunk shows to wish lists, bridal selections to modest options for more casual gifts.
Hendricks, who has forged her own path, has certainly created a niche with Peridot.
“People, especially in this community, like the idea it’s unique — everybody not walking around in the same thing — and that’s not always true.”
Peridot Fine Jewelry is at 1903 Palmer Ave. in Larchmont. For more, visit peridotfinejewelry.com.