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Volume 40 Issue 15 • August 12-18, 2010
now in our 40th season

Resurrecting the Artistry

RingThere was a time when all jewelry was custom made by artisans who painstakingly created each piece by hand.  There is a shop on Nantucket at 9 South Beach Street where this lost art is being resurrected—a gallery of jewelry, where pieces are purchased for their design, creativity, and workmanship without much regard to cost.

Reubin Simantov opened R. Simantov Fine Jewelry on the island just two years ago.  Nantucket residents and long-time summer visitors have come to consider the summer season started when he returns and reopens.  In just two seasons, R. Simantov has become a destination shop.  Many first-time customers discover the shop as they are strolling down South Beach Street on their way to or from Lo La 41, the White Elephant, Brant Point, or the beach.  When they get to the large windows at 9A, they stop...they look...they look closer...then almost invariably they come in.  "I just had to stop and look," is the universal comment.

Inside they are captivated by the designs.  From cocktail rings and cufflinks to brooches and necklaces, many of Reubin's designs are inspired by and reveal a reverence for nature.  There's the stunning feather necklace of 18 gold and mixed metal, another brilliant necklace created to look like leaves carefully strung on delicately twisted twigs, a ring with a sculptural inset of a fine horse, earrings that emulate sea creatures, and butterfly brooches that actually flutter.  "Classic jewelry re-imagined for the 21st century" is what Reubin calls it.  It's no wonder that his jewelry designs are part of the permanent collection of the Headley-Whitney Museum in Lexington, Kentucky.

Simantov's interest in art began when he was a young teen, by the time he was 18, he was working for a high end estate jewelry dealer.   "I fell in love with the artistry of how jewelry used to be made...I want to show people that jewelry can be art...we are resurrecting the artistry of jewelry making."

Reubin's original designs are contemporary pieces that have been created using the techniques and artistry from the past.  These techniques employed include engraving, gold and platinum inlay into various metals, enameling using custom colors they mix themselves with one enamel a unique translucent variety that give an opalescent look.  Every detail of R. Simantov jewelry is made by them—they fashion the hinges, the clasps, every bit of work. 

They even do their own lapidary, taking stones from rough to finished. And what stones they are!  Simantov has a level of expertise in precious and semiprecious gems and pearls as well as carved and sculptured gems, and he is always on the lookout for rare and unusual gems.  "We never design ahead: we buy the material and then decide what to make.  Often the stone [the shape, the size, the color] dictates what we design."  Simantov has a keen intuition of what will please his many repeat customers, and when a stone comes in that lends itself to a jewelry design that he knows will please, Simantov will propose a piece for their collections.  "We develop a relationship with our customers, they trust us."

His method is to take time with a customer, learn what he or she likes, and design a piece of jewelry just for that person or couple.  Then he brings out his breathtaking array of stones:  canary diamonds, pearls of unimaginable size and luster, rubalite, a 74 karat Burmese peridot, tanzanite of unusual clarity, blue South Sea baroque pearls, sapphires of every color: "you want lavender? green? orange? yellow?  We have them all!"

At press time, Simantov was waiting for a couple to approve a pair of inlaid bracelets they commissioned Reubin to create to honor their love and a special anniversary.  The bracelets depict three-dimensional fish gracefully swimming together with tiny and very sparkly canary diamonds, red spinel, green garnets, orange sapphires, white diamonds, and pearls.  This sculptural three-dimensional inlaid technique is equisite and uncommon.  It gives uncanny life to the pieces in which it is used, and at R. Simantov, you can see it in a number of pieces. "This business is about meeting the people and adding something beautiful to their lives...something that will be a treasured piece that will stay in their family forever."

Horse Ring

Simantov opened his second store in Greenwich, CT in November of 2009, and that is where he can be found when his Nantucket shop closes for Fall.  That is, when he is not traveling for the many philanthropic efforts in which he participates.   "Last year we helped raise $600,000."  These included benefits for The Hole in the Wall Gang and Rooms with a View in Southport CT. 

R.Simantov Fine Jewelry
9A South Beach Street  •  917-324-4410


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