Like so many college graduates, Mary Margaret Beaver moved to New York City to seek out her professional calling.
In the aughts, she joined advertising firm J. Walter Thompson (now Wunderman Thompson) and was involved into De Beers’ famed “A Diamond Is Forever” campaign. She quickly became fluent in things like diamond buying cycles and consumer messaging.
Fast-forward to November 2020, and Beaver celebrated the opening of her first brick-and-mortar jewelry retail store, Tiny Gods. “I’ve been in retail for a really long time,” said the elegant blonde founder, who, upon moving back to Charlotte, N.C., worked 15 years for another jewelry retail establishment before hanging out her own shingle. “I fell in love with retail. I discovered I had a knack for sales and connecting with clients and had a good eye for beautiful jewelry. It became a passion.”
The COVID-19 pandemic’s most intense time was an odd time to open a retail store, but ultimately proved fortuitous. Beaver forged alliances during the height of the pandemic she might not have otherwise, she recalls. For example, she partnered with a branding and marketing firm that took on her business and website as a pet project after many of its hospitality clients had fallen off. She also hooked up with Irina Toshkova, owner of the Toshkova Fine Art gallery, and together, the pair found the 2,300 square-foot space Tiny Gods resides in: a quaint house in the Myers Park neighborhood that provided the perfect backdrop for art and fine jewelry.
“It feels like home to people,” said Beaver, noting the space’s charming fireplace, and sales associates who aren’t barricaded behind display cases, as a few of many welcoming features. “It’s a happy space. It feels more welcoming and less intimidating [than other fine jewelry stores].”
The décor is a big draw. While Toshkova gravitates toward a black-and-white aesthetic, Beaver is all about color. Interiors firm Casa Powell Design helped the founders fine tune and merge their styles: Rainbow-hued sconces add zip to one wall while multicolored modern-feeling art and white-and-gold mid-century modern furniture repeat throughout the space. Carpets by Missoni, and even some from Turkey (found on Etsy), continue the riot of colors lining stairways and large display areas. The retro-style display cases—gold and circular with angular stands—tie it all together.
“We have similar clients and collaborate a lot on events and have made the space a bit more dynamic,” she said. “We brainstorm. I get ideas from her and vice versa. There’s a camraderie.”
Beaver approached the fine jewelry assortment in much the same way she did the interior design, keeping it thoughtful-yet-whimsical. “Even though jewelry is powerful, it doesn’t have to be so serious and can be fun as well,” she said. “Quality and craftsmanship are so important, but so is colorful jewelry that evoke happiness.”
To that end, the space sells animal and architectural pieces by David Webb (the late designer was also a North Carolinian). An Art Deco-inspired diamond oval buckle David Webb ring, $32,000, sells alongside another from the maison—a large frog ring with a cabochon ruby and green enamel, $11,200. Large brown butterfly marquetry earrings, featuring diamonds, rubies, and black rhodium, $13,200, by Brazilian designer Silvia Furmanovich are up for grabs too, as is a sloth pendant made with garnets, diamonds, and sapphires by Daniella Villegas.
It wasn’t necessarily a matter of coming up with an assortment mix and slapping down the credit card, said Beaver. “I had to place buys strictly on online sheets [during the pandemic] then convince designers they should trust me and let me launch with their jewelry,” she said. “Now I host these same designers who can personally connect with clients.”
It’s old news now, but the pandemic turned out to be a boon for many jewelry retailers. Consumers who weren’t spending money on experiences, trips, or events gravitated toward colorful, happy-feeling jewelry. And Tiny Gods was, and is, full of such gemstone-and-metal antidepressants. The store also did well with timeless classics such as stud diamond earrings and gold hoops.
“Everybody wanted great earrings,” said Beaver, referring to the urge to express personal style, even on venues like Zoom. “Their ear game had to be strong.” The shop’s unique name is an ode to talismans—symbols of love, protectors from evil, and bringers of luck. “Fine jewelry can celebrate everything from self-love to big milestones,” said Beaver. “Beautiful little things can be so powerful.”
Top photo: Tiny Gods owner Mary Margaret Beaver in her boutique; all photos courtesy of Tiny Gods