Atelier D’Emotion, a classic New York City-style jewelry shop with ornate tin ceilings and mosaic tile floors, is a feast for the eyes—and has a pleasing, calm energy. Every time we step into the store, we find ourselves taking a big, relaxing breath.
Boutique owner Alice Sundbom, a native of Sweden, knew the circa-1901 space at 137 Sullivan Street (in the less-commercial western part of SoHo) was where she’d be comfortable working every day. “It had good bones and I fell in love with the ceiling and floors,” says the former psychologist and marketing executive. The space’s look was on point from the beginning, and she recalls, saying, “We didn’t have to do much.”
Still, every element of the store has been cleverly executed. Sundbom salvaged a beautiful Dior case from the Lord & Taylor flagship on Fifth Avenue, a casualty of the company’s bankruptcy in 2020. A flaw on the multicolor tiled floors near the entrance was “fixed” with a cowhide covering that looks like it’s always been there. “We’re basically rising from the ashes of big retail,” she says. “And I love that. They live through us. We give them a different life. It’s all about recycling and not spending a lot of money and making it into something it’s not.”
She adds, “My purpose was to bring SoHo back to what it was, a place where you can go and find an independent shop with unique things that you couldn’t find uptown at bigger chain retailers. I think this is a place where everything comes to life.”
Sundbom launched the store in 2018 as a pop-up for the month of December, drawing a line of eager customers snaking out the door. Fast forward five years and there’s a six-month waiting list for jewelry designers eager to occupy a smidgen of space in her jewelry cabinets.
“This store is an extension of my world,” says the retailer. “I curated every piece, and I would wear everything.” Her criteria for picking jewelry is simple: “I have to like it and it has to be special and it has to be made in New York.”
There’s a lot to love at Atelier D’Emotion, which offers a mix of fine, demi-fine, contemporary, and art jewelry. New York-based Vitae Ascendre’s jewels are 3D-printed, employing the structural engineering of bridges—its geometric earrings and bangles ($1,600 to $2,100) made from 18K gold that are so light, they seem to defy the laws of metallurgy. “These pieces of jewelry wouldn’t be able to exist in the real world without 3D printing,” Sundbom notes. “You cannot carve all the negative pieces out in a piece of wax. When it comes to earrings, it’s very helpful because you can wear these huge earrings and they’re very light.”
There are also necklaces and bracelets crocheted out of fine gold chain, so finely wrought that they resemble fabric. The Romanian artist, Alice Butunoi of La Vie Boheme, lives in upstate New York and takes about three weeks to make each piece ($240 to $1,550). Then there are pieces from Elena Kriegner, an Austrian alternative bridal designer who works out of a studio in Chelsea, New York City whose designs are clean, modern, and geometric: hinged three-bar bangles ($560) form an appealing square on the wearer while a silver cocktail ring with a green amethyst ($860) has all the angles of a Neutra house.
Arguably, the biggest statement pieces come from Val Stern Art, a native of Ukraine, whose giant amethyst and ametrine kinetic scorpion doubles as a cuff or pendant ($5,000).
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Sundbom agrees. “People come in and buy big pieces of jewelry. They want to be seen after all these years of wearing a mask. Big earrings. Big bracelets. Big rings. That’s a trend I’ve been noticing, and I love it.”
Sharón Chandally Pedrini, a native of New York City, founded her line, Chandally, in 2009 based on Yemenite silversmithing that her grandfather, his siblings, and generations before studied. Her pieces—including spiral 18k gold earrings with diamonds ($1,840), a heptagon mixed chain bracelet with a gray diamond ($2,800), and myrrh earrings in 18K gold with white diamonds ($9,000)—often incorporate musical elements as well as a spiritual bent.
Jack Bigio, originally from Columbia, specializes in wearable sculptures. One of the notable pieces in the store is his watermelon tourmaline bracelet—slices of dark green, light green, white and pink—set in 22k gold ($13,200).
Many of Sundbom’s designers create kinetic, interactive, or multifunctional pieces. There are rings on which you can swap stones, cuffs in animal shapes that move like the creatures they depict, and even pendants on which you can imprint a QR code.
“I try to get things that I would wear myself,” she says. “I don’t want [the store’s designers] to compete with each other, so I don’t want things that look the same.” The retailer says Atelier d’Emotion draws two types of clients: the Millennial girl who wants fun, whimsical pieces with a backstory and their mothers who want something big, bold, and unique. Perusing the beautiful and fascinating jewels in the shop’s cases, it feels like both clients will be inspired for years to come.