Kenny Martin/Daily Journal
From left to right: Joy Rudkin, Diane Christensen and Coreen Gutierrez evaluate a piece of jewelry for insurance purposes.
A jewelry store in San Mateo has recently added to its collection of wedding rings which offer unique representations of love’s bond. The new line of jewelry is designed with same-sex couples in mind, a demographic that up to this point hasn’t been represented through jewelry.
This month, Christensen and Rafferty Fine Jewelry, located at 181 Second Ave., added a line of wedding rings by Rony Tennenbaum to its collection. Tennenbaum, based in New York, has been designing jewelry specifically for same-sex marriages for six years now.
Colleen Rafferty co-founded the jewelry store 18 years ago and said she is excited her store is the first and only one to carry the Rony Tennenbaum line in all of California.
“It’s fashion forward, something that stands out and doesn’t have a sameness to it,” Rafferty said.
Christensen and Rafferty Fine Jewelry only started carrying Rony Tennenbaum’s jewelry a couple of weeks ago, and it hasn’t received the entire order shipment, so there hasn’t been any clients requesting to see the new pieces yet. However, Rafferty said she has had same-sex clients in the past and, in her experience, these couples aren’t as interested in the typical, “traditional” rings offered in her store. They tend to want individualized rings.
Tennenbaum said same-sex couples often aren’t looking for the flash of traditional bands, but rather rings that are symbolic of their love.
“I try to focus on what’s representative of a couple,” Tennenbaum said. “I don’t think jewelry out there puts much into the symbolism. LVOE and my other designs resonate with people; they have a significance other than being a gold ring.”
Tennenbaum said part of his decision to make jewelry specifically for the gay community was people, especially recently, were struggling with creating new customs and traditions. Now that same-sex couples are getting married, people are sorting out new questions. Questions such as who proposes to who, and do couples wear matching rings, are starting to be answered.
“[The decision to step out on my own] was very clear-cut for me,” Tennenbaum said. “I’d done almost everything there was to do [in the jewelry business.] I wanted to focus that knowledge and experience on my community. There was no one else doing it, so I felt I needed to do it.”
Another way Tennenbaum is making his jewelry different from many other designers is using what is know as EcoGold, which is essentially using recycled gold and other metals when making jewelry. Using gold obtained through mining is destructive to the environment and pollutes water supplies, but using recycled metals allows water to be mostly purified of chemicals before being released back into the environment.
The different Tennenbaum rings at the San Mateo store include Shadow, LVOE, Ripples, Air, Bricks, Euro, Tie the Knot and a pavé black diamond ring. The Tennenbaum jewelry line prices start at $675 and can go up to $3,500, Rafferty said. Of the rings available so far at Christensen and Rafferty, none of them have a large gem in them. Most still seem flashy because of the metal being shiny and reflective, but a couple stand out because they have a solid, bold look that almost demand your attention.
While this jewelry line was made with the gay community in mind, anyone can purchase these rings. Both Rafferty and Tennenbaum said they have had clients who aren’t gay express interest in Tennenbaum’s jewelry.