By Wendy Wallace
Bainbridge Islanders love rocks. Heck, we live on one.
Lucky for us, we’re surrounded by a handful of gifted residents bejeweling it with precious metals and gems.
For those seeking fine jewelry traditionally defined as exceptionally made gold or platinum set with precious gemstones such as diamonds and rubies Alina Korotkina’s luxurious shop in Harbor Square is a sight to behold. Korotkina sees her global clientele by private appointment only inside the storefront that opened this year.
Korotkina’s bespoke diamond pieces range from timeless engagement and bridal jewelry to bold pendants, rings and necklaces. “Every age loves diamonds,” she said, “It’s just the size of the diamond that may change.” Born in Russia, Korotkina was classically trained and previously owned her own business in Chicago’s diamond district, Jewelers Row, where she fostered relationships worldwide. Korotkina said her recent Bainbridge collection was designed for the island lifestyle. “We are somewhat casual during the day and in the evening we want to dress up a little and look nice. But we always want comfort.”
Korotkina listens to her customers carefully to craft pieces both with impeccable quality and special for the individual recipient. Her expert staff repairs watches both antiques and new along with all kinds of jewelry. Customers can economically recycle or repurpose family jewelry into new custom pieces. And each fall, Korotkina hosts a cleaning party where customers have a chance to have their pieces polished and maintained while they enjoy wine and snacks.
Samples of Korotkina’s collections can be found at korotkina.com.
Another storefront option for elegant jewelry is Castellano Fine Jewelry on Madison Avenue near Doc’s Grill. Connie Castellano is an award-winning jeweler and longtime Bainbridge resident with more than 20 years’ experience. Her varied collections feature organic lines and bold architecture as well as period pieces with contemporary sophistication. Clients can refresh family heirlooms with settings for antique gems designed to please younger generations.
Her commissioned works always include graded, fine gemstones and non-conflict diamonds in accordance with ethical guidelines from the Gemological Institute of America and American Gem Trade Association. Her pieces can be seen in person at her Winslow shop or online at conniecastellano.com.
Although embarking into the jewelry business later in life, islander Robin Callahan jumped into the field with gusto to create Robin Callahan Designs. Working from her home studio, Callahan meets with clients and personally designs and casts pieces. In the past year she also became a lapidary, or gemstone cutter, with her work featured in the prestigious industry publication, Lapidary Journal. Callahan always considers “how to let light in to showcase the gem and not overpower it with too much metal.”
Callahan emphasizes meaning beyond the materials and offers engravings suited to each recipient. For a recent gift for someone awaiting a lung transplant, she included an engraving of “just breathe” and a heart. She finds that islanders have a great appreciation for the creative process and working with an artist. A social media maven, Callahan uses Facebook and Instagram to grow her business.
Robin Hansen of Simplicity Gems agrees. Since 2012, Hansen has focused on genuine gemstones in modern, simple settings that can be worn every day. After a career in environmental consulting, Hansen shifted her love of rocks toward a more creative direction. Not finding pieces she liked, she started making them herself and the business grew organically. With only one or two friends originally wearing her jewelry, Hansen began getting requests from boutique owners to carry her work.
In addition to island locations like Renew Day Spa, Barn Cat and Flowering Around, her collection can be found online at simplicitygems.com and on Etsy as Bainbridge Gems. However, it is old-fashioned island word of mouth she said that fuels sales. A recently made custom silver cuff for a man who wore it to the Bainbridge farmers’ market led to four new clients wanting one.
“It’s just so Bainbridge,” Hansen said, “for people to just stop people and ask where they got something and how they can get it and two days later I get a phone call.” To all four jewelry designers we say, rock on!