Shopping in the Historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham is the perfect activity for a relaxing afternoon—at anytime of year, for that matter. I always head there when I need a special gift for a friend (and sometimes that friend is me!). What I love the most is that the shops and galleries of Fairhaven often feature items you don’t see everywhere else. Store owners take the time to find or create the unique goods they proudly display for their customers from near and far.
Recently, I was on the hunt for jewelry, and found some lovely items to share with you from two wonderful stores: Whimsey and Jewelry Affair.
Whimsey is located at the corner of Harris and 10th Streets, adjacent to the Village Green. The gallery has been owned by Cami Grichel for over 12 years. Cami curates each item on display, seeking out artists from all over the Pacific Northwest region, British Columbia and across the U.S. The works of many local artists are on display, and Cami is happy to tell you the origin of each piece.
Her customers have let Cami know they appreciate the high quality items she brings into her gallery. “People who love jewelry are always looking for something new and unique,” she said. Luckily, Whimsey is filled with pieces that fit that description.
You can create your own necklace using interchangeable charms and beads (above left and right). And check out these fabulous beaded cuffs from Love Heals. They look even better in person!
Whimsey also carries a large selection of stainless steel bracelets, rings, chains and earrings. Why stainless? According to Cami, it requires less maintenance, is tougher and lasts longer than other metals. Plus, it’s safe for sensitive skin because it contains no nickel. Sold!
Other unique pieces I loved included larimar pendants and rings (above, right) this handmade bead mosaic pendant and hammered silver pendant, plus the incredible Navajo pearls (below), which are silver beads made to look like pearls, with “a little more edge,” said Cami.
These cute pendants above say, “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are,” “I might read until I feel better,” and “Every little thing is gonna be alright.”
Whimsey is a great place to pick up a gift for just about anyone, with modern pieces available in a wide price range. The light-filled gallery also features original artwork and a very friendly, four-legged salesperson named Ruby. Be sure to stop in and give her a pat on the head, while you feast your eyes on beautiful things that will likely end up on your wish list.
Whimsey, 1001 Harris Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225
Open daily 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and by appointment
Whimsey on Facebook
Just across the street and up the hill a bit from Whimsey is a completely different sort of jewelry shop: Jewelry Affair. Another long-standing Fairhaven business (here since 2002), Jewelry Affair got its start at Bellis Fair Mall in 1993. Owners Rodney and Beth Smithson brought the shop to Fairhaven to take advantage of the neighborly vibe and rustic charm.
Rodney is an accomplished jeweler and custom designer, with 40 years in the business. He comes from a jewelry design family, with a designer mother and jeweler father. He started working at his dad’s bench when he was just 12! With all that experience, it’s no surprise that his custom pieces are in high demand. He created an exclusive line for the Golden Nugget Casino’s jewelry store in Las Vegas, and of course, offers the Rodney Charles line at Jewelry Affair, too.
Three of Rodney’s custom pieces, above. A hammered pendant, chunky men’s ring and cross pendant.
The Lug Nut Collection (pictured below) incorporates wrenches, washers and other hardware. Super cool! A true artist, Rodney fabricates each piece from scratch, in house. His equipment-filled work area is upstairs, and I got a behind-the-scenes look at the process. From carving and injecting, to hammering and polishing, there is a lot going on in this tiny space. And Rodney was kind enough to clean my rings in his super-fancy machine. They came back to me so shiny and clean, I almost didn’t recognize them.
Jewelry Affair is a very welcoming shop, and it’s fun to poke around. Even if you’re not into jewelry, you might enjoy the vintage photos that cover the walls, or the antiques they’ve gathered that are also for sale. They’ll probably offer to clean your rings, too!
Rodney is an old-school jeweler with a modern eye. He also offers repair services on items that other stores won’t or can’t handle. If you have old jewelry, pocket watches or gem stones lying around, bring them in and let Rodney create you a new piece you’ll actually wear and enjoy. From Grandma’s costume earrings to old engagement and wedding bands, he can either fix it or turn it into something awesome. Even if you think the job is too small, feel free to come in and talk to Beth and Rodney. You might be surprised! He’s quite the sentimental jeweler, and wants his customers to be able to hold on to their memories. After all, sentiment is more important than monetary value.
Jewelry Affair is truly a jewelry store for everyone. Just ask their happy customers, who come to the shop from Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and even more far-flung places. They know they can even get an on-the-spot repair when they really need one.
If you’re like me, you’ve walked past Jewelry Affair dozens of times,. I’m so glad I finally got to check it out—and you will be too. Rodney and Beth really know their stuff, and like so many Fairhaven merchants, are two of the nicest people you’ll have the pleasure to meet. Bentley the Wheaton Terrier is a sweetie too! (He did not pose for a photo.)
Jewelry Affair, 1006 Harris Ave. Suite 110, Bellingham WA 98225
Open Tuesday – Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Jewelry Affair on Facebook