The pandemic forced a life reset for many, especially when it came to creative and personal preferences, which affected many business decisions. This was the perfect situation brewing for Colette Steckel of Colette Jewelry. This month, she opened a new store to replace her store on Melrose Avenue just in time to celebrate her 25th year in business.
Located near the jeweler’s home and the Brentwood Country Mart, proximity was crucial in choosing the new spot. “The pandemic put things into perspective – family and health come first,” said Steckel, adding, “It taught me the more we simplify our lives, the better. For me, that meant bringing the business close to home.” Her life revolves around the country mart, and the space sits across the street on 26th Street in a former bespoke tailor shop. “There is a cool community of local businesses there. It felt natural to be part of that mix and lifestyle.”
A mix is also how this store’s offerings could be described. Steckel, known for her colorful enamel charm-based fine jewelry and ethereal, spiritual and cosmic-inspired diamond-based jewelry, is adding more lifestyle components. The designer has roots in both Mexico City and Paris and incorporates those places into the new concept.
“Anyone who knows me knows I am a collector of many things such as hand-painted boxes from an artist in Mexico City or a secret chocolatier in Paris,” said Steckel. She was used to getting grilled about her menagerie of treasures, so she decided the offer her best-kept secrets along with her signature jewelry. The new store will carry François Pralus Chocolates, Aromaria Candles, artwork by Benjamin Pietri, sweatshirts from Sandra Sisley’s BE collection and more. Many of the initial non-jewelry items are a direct result of the way she and her family spent time at home during quarantine, where they used the time “to reconnect and, in many ways, fall in love with home again.”
Speaking of home, the new store has a French-Contemporary feel to it. ‘Melrose Place had a very French, boudoir-like atmosphere with darker interiors and gilded accents, while Brentwood is flooded with light and a bit more minimalistic,” she explains, saying the overall look is reminiscent of a modern Parisian apartment filled lavender, light pink, and Crème Fraiche tones accent the space along with velvet-like marble. A touch of burgundy and herringbone floors complete the look.
Like her hometown, the space is filled with light. Being able to walk to work sounds appealing to Steckel and more reason to feel confident about her commitment to the area and Los Angeles. “LA is brimming with creativity; everyone is always working towards something cool and exciting, and I find that incredibly energizing; she enthused, adding she was excited about a potential new neighbor. “A two-star Michelin-rated French restaurant is rumored to be opening next to my shop– I’m a super foodie, and I think we’ll collaborate on some fun events together.”
The mixing of fine food and jewelry also sounds like a 2020-bred concept, as both draw a customer looking for comfort and sentimentality. Steckel noted collections such as the Gatsby and Santos y Cielos were sentimental or personalized, investment-worthy, and versatile enough to wear at home with sweats. Like many the brand, the pandemic forced a push towards online.
“Instagram became our lifeline, and we connected with clients over Zoom and FaceTime,” she said, noting the demand to talk to the designer directly. “When selling luxury, I feel strongly you need the experience to match. The online element supports the brick and mortar and vice versa – the brand is discovered on Instagram, but someone visits the store because they want to see a piece styled. Or they pass by the store in a hurry and then go to the website and make a purchase. It all goes hand-in-hand.””
She also had a goal to reinvent jewelry shopping. “I wanted to flip the traditional jewelry store model on its head. Buying fine jewelry can be intimidating and overly formal – I’m setting out to do the opposite. Come, hang out, learn about the jewelry, try it on, walk away with a jewel or a Backgammon set.“
Steckel reflects on twenty-five years in a business that changed dramatically due to technology and social habits, in her opinion, for the better. For instance, the digital experience has helped her to get to know her clients better. But beyond that, she likes the changes she sees in buying habits.
“I’m happy to see demand for fine jewelry continuing to open up; women and men of all ages and styles are in the market for high-quality pieces they can build a collection out of,” she observes, adding, “In the same way younger people are moving away from fast fashion, they’re looking for jewelry like mine that stands the test of time in both design and craftsmanship.”