Photo by Jen Bellefleur
Jewelry is more than wearable art; it’s a way to tell our stories. Now, Ellen Hertz of Max’s Jewelry and Jen Bellefleur of New Gild Jewelers are sharing theirs.
Jewelry is one of the most popular gifts we get our significant others for Valentine’s Day each year—and for good reason!
“It may sound corny, but I really think that anything can be a romantic gift if the right vibe is there between the giver and the receiver,” says Ellen Hertz, owner of Max’s Jewelry. “I would be lying if I didn’t say that I think jewelry is a perfect way to go because jewelry is the way we help tell our own story. It’s personal—it’s on our body, it’s often next to our face, which is the most visible part of us to others. It can evoke a memory of where you were when you received it and certain emotions because of who gave it to you.”
Max’s, which is turning fifteen this May, was founded by Hertz when she decided to leave her twenty-one-year career in the technology industry to pursue a long-time dream of owning a jewelry business. The store is named after Hertz’s Papa, who owned Max’s Jewelry Co. in Hamtramck, Michigan, for fifty-four years.
“I like to say that the jewelry biz is somewhere in my DNA, and that those genes skipped a generation,” she says.
Hertz says that what sets Max’s apart from other jewelers is its assortment of jewelry. “We represent artisans who are not only designing their own jewelry, but who are also either crafting the jewelry themselves or working with a small team,” Hertz says. “We do not represent anyone who sends their designs overseas to a big factory for production. We try hard to relay the artists’ backstories to our customer. For example, what they’re inspired by, what motivates them, and how they approach design.”
While many customers stop in for a self-purchase, Hertz says the team at Max’s truly loves helping customers pick out something that will be just right (especially if it’s for someone special).
“While we take what we do and what we sell very seriously, we try not to take ourselves too seriously,” Hertz says. “We like to have fun and hope that we can create a fun, low-key, no-stress shopping experience for everyone who walks through our doors.”
Like Max’s, New Gild Jewelers is known for its unique, handmade pieces of jewelry. “At New Gild, everything in our gallery was handmade, one at a time, by us or someone we know,” says Jen Bellefleur, owner of New Gild. “Your memories aren’t manufactured, they’re personal—shouldn’t your jewelry be, too?”
Six or seven years ago, Bellefleur and her partner, Kelsey, found themselves working together in a small custom jewelry studio where they were responsible for everything. “After a few years, we looked around one day and said, if we can do this all for someone else, why wouldn’t we do it for ourselves? And we conceptualized and started New Gild,” she says.
About two years into their business, they moved into a bigger and more centrally located storefront in Linden Hills. “We continue to evolve, both in our gallery and custom work, and into gemological evaluation and valuation,” Bellefleur adds.
Like Hertz, Bellefleur says she believes Valentine’s Day is a classic jewelry gift-giving occasion.
“Depending on the length of the relationship, anything from a beautiful necklace or earrings to a ring make sparkly presents! Some of our gallery favorites right now include unique ruby earrings and necklaces, as well as rings,” she says. “Pink and red are great colors for Valentine’s Day. We also have a spectacular pendant made from hand-blown glass and 18K yellow gold, filled with tiny, fully cut pink sapphires—with matching earrings!”
Whether you’re celebrating a decades-long love, or a new romance, New Gild offers special gifts for every relationship status.