Best Place to Buy Yourself Something Avant-Garde

Jewelers’ Werk Galerie
3319 Cady’s Alley NW, (202) 337-3319
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
It’s not fair to call this small, airy space a shop, but it’s not a just an art gallery, either. Inside, you’ll find jewelry you can purchase, but it “isn’t fashion-based, it’s art-based,” says owner Ellen Reiben. If you come here looking for a diamond solitaire for your betrothed, you’re in the wrong place. All of these ambiguities start to make sense once you step inside and check out some of the incredible pieces on display. The space is dominated by stack upon stack of white drawers that open to reveal one-of-a-kind wearable artworks—some of it incredibly strange, all of it compelling—by international artists. While you might come across necklaces or bracelets made with more traditional materials—gold or silver or precious stones—you’re more likely to find wearable artworks made of paper, fabric, metals of every hue and texture, or textiles. Prices range from $50 to $15,000, but you’ll find the biggest selection in the $100 to $500 range. Reiben was a jeweler before starting the gallery-shop in 1984, and her expertise and eye shows in the selection. She says she hasn’t recently counted how many artists are on display, but around 75 is a fair guess, and the space features a new exhibition every month except December and January. If you somehow manage to leave with nothing dangling from your ears, at least the space between them will feel enriched.

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