Did you know that this year is our workshop’s 50th anniversary? Yes, indeed. Our little shop originally opened its doors fifty years ago under the previous owners’ name, Rubesch’s, and we proudly continue their tradition today of old-world craftsmanship and service (albeit updated with our more modern perspective). I was reflecting upon this particular milestone lately when a client reached out to me regarding a birthday gift that she wanted to create for her husband’s fiftieth birthday. The story of what we designed together truly encapsulates how far we’ve come as a shop, and I would love to share it with you, if you’re interested…
About two months ago, I received an email from someone saying that they had recently visited our newly renovated showroom (after learning about it on Stylebook) and that she wanted to follow up to potentially design some custom cufflinks for her husband’s milestone birthday. While exploring our showroom she was particularly taken by my wedding tiara that we have on display (though not for sale!) It was handmade by my husband Tim nearly five years ago and she loved the amazing detailing throughout the piece.
My client specifically wanted something in sterling silver and ideally handmade because she liked the idea of a truly unique, crafted gift. She mentioned that she and her husband attend black-tie poppy balls fairly regularly, so she would love to have a nice pair of sterling cufflinks with a poppy detail somehow included. Then, she mentioned that she was in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and could we ship?
I loved it.
I’ll be honest, we have never actually shipped something to Abu Dhabi (or anywhere near, for that matter) but I knew we could figure it out. I asked her a few questions about the aesthetic she wanted to elicit in the cufflinks and we exchanged a few images and details back and forth via email to confirm the plan. The entire dialogue took about a week to settle and by the time we had our plan together, I knew exactly what my client wanted and how we would go about achieving it. All over a distance of 7,064 miles!
When we finished the cufflinks a few weeks later, I emailed her a photo before shipping them so that she could ask for alterations if any were needed. They weren’t — the cufflinks were perfect — so I boxed them up and prepared them for shipping. I emailed my client to let her know of the tracking information (and the customs requirements) and…two days later, they were delivered to my client! She absolutely adored them and couldn’t wait to give them to her husband two weeks later for his birthday.
Looking back at this project, it’s amazing how much of it wouldn’t have been possible fifty years ago. Our shop back then looked much more “antique” and focused on silver restoration and fabrication. Old Town itself was so different in the late sixties — far from the bustling neighborhood full of retail shops and boutiques that it is now — and community networks like Alexandria Stylebook didn’t exist to share the amazing features of the neighborhood with a greater audience. Our client would never had heard of us without this asset and she would have gotten a very different experience from our shop back then than she did a few months back in our newly renovated private showroom.
More to the point, our entire design process would have been impossible without face-to-face meetings to show examples of designs, and there would have been no Google to search for ideas so we would have been limited to what we had in store or readily accessible in jewelry books. And finally, the very idea of our small business shipping something precious and handmade all the way to Abu Dhabi (in two days!) would have been completely unthinkable. Our client was able to design a custom pair of handmade cufflinks from more than 7,000 miles away, and have them in-hand for her husband’s birthday in just over a month. How incredible is that?
Fifty years is a long time — for a person or a business — to be around. It’s exciting and so special to be able to celebrate this milestone with our ever-expanding community of clients, and to be able to enter this next phase of our business with a fresh perspective on our time-honored craft. I’m always honored when our clients (new and existing) think of us for their own milestone celebrations, so don’t hesitate to reach out and see what we can put together for you. Whether you find a treasure in our showroom or we design something together, we’ll help you make this year’s celebration both memorable and special!
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.