For Samantha Larkins and Mary Leppert, jewelry is their number one passion, which led them to owning and running Colorado-based fine jewelry boutique Metalmark Fine Jewelry. Metalmark has become a reliable go-to among the LoHi community known for its boutiques.
The store has become a home for Samantha Louise Jewelry, designed by Larkins herself, as well as a vast but cohesive collection of unique jewelry, and Leppert is a reliable source for anyone searching for diamonds or other precious stones, jewelry repairs, watch repairs and estate jewelry needs.
Shared passion, love for design and expertise are what creates the unique retail experience that is Metalmark. We caught up with Larkins to see how they make customers’ visits memorable, the biggest lesson she’s learned from her business, what she’s most looking forward to at JCK Tucson 2019 and much more.
What is your background in the jewelry industry, and how did you get your start?
I took a class on glass beads in high school which led to making and selling my jewelry at art fairs. After a Fine Art degree at the University of San Diego, the passion for jewelry design was still there. I enrolled in classes at GIA in Carlsbad and I was hooked. The industry took its hold and from then on, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
How would you describe your store using only three words?
Unexpected. Approachable. Empowering.
Can you give us a glimpse into your process when purchasing pieces to include in your store collection and your decision-making strategies?
I am looking for collections that fill a niche in our cases. I want each case to be different and each designer to speak to our customers with a unique aesthetic and appeal. From Sarah Hendler to Tap by Todd Pownell the individuality of each of our collections is what makes our store special. Once we select a designer and a collection that we believe in, my partner, Mary Leppert, has an amazing eye for individual pieces that will sell. She examines price point and originality and sometimes takes a risk that is outside my comfort zone. She knows our customers inside and out, and those risks are often our greatest successes.
Are there any particular stones, hues, or styles you are partial to and prefer to carry more of in the store?
I am personally drawn to yellow gold and rustic or rose cut diamonds, but this year I have seen some interesting uses of turquoise and emerald that I am loving.
What do you do to make customers’ visits memorable?
I think it goes back to our three words: unexpected, approachable, empowering. We are a fine jewelry store, but we are far from predictable. You can spend hours looking at the cases only to come in the next day and pour over them all over again finding new unexpected surprises. Our team is knowledgeable, but approachable. We aren’t trying to sell to our clients, we are empowering them to discover or design a piece that speaks to them… a piece that can become intertwined in their identity. A customer that walks into Metalmark feels like they’ve happened upon a secret. They feel like it’s a place made just for them and the jewelry they discover tells a story that is hard to forget.
Do you do any special events? If so, what kind?
We have trunk shows, sidewalk chalk parties for kids, Santa visits at Christmas, wine tastings, mimosas and massages, date nights, flower shop pop-ups and more… If there is an event, we are in. It’s the events that bring communities together to support each other.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your business?
People make the difference. This business is all about relationships… with designers, team members, partners and customers. Supporting each other in business breeds growth and opportunities.
You currently have locations in Denver, CO and Carmel, Indiana. Would you consider expanding further? Is there any city or area you’d be particularly interested in?
I believe we would if it was the right fit. For the time being we are breathing and perfecting the art of running two stores, but I’m a dreamer so I always have my eye on what’s next. Not quite sure what that is yet, but I’ll let you know when I find out.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is just starting out in the industry?
Don’t be everything to everyone. Find your voice and live it.
What is one of your favorite JCK memories?
In the evenings, at the JW Marriott Starr Pass, the patio is filled with a collection of some of the most knowledgeable people in our industry. While the show hours are amazing, it is often the after-hours sitting on the patio that open doors for education and inspiration. A couple of years ago, I was sitting on the patio with one of my idols in the industry, deep in conversation when the glowing eyes of a family of javelina suddenly appeared near my chair. I leapt 10 feet in the air and (I’m embarrassed to say) screamed like a little baby. That night I made a lasting impression, although maybe not the impression I had hoped!
What are you most looking forward to at JCK Tucson 2019?
Newness and inspiration.
What types of pieces/collections will you be looking for at JCK Tucson 2019?
Designs I haven’t seen before. What I love about JCK Tucson is that it is an intimate setting. I have the opportunity to spend time with each designer and collection to see if it’s the right fit. I will be looking for new designers, but also new designs from seasoned lines, like Aaron Henry.