It all began 17 years ago this month for Tiffany Peay with an order from Barneys New York for 144 of her Moving Stone rings, and her smart request for payment upfront, which helped establish her in business. Ten years later, in 2007, she took the big step of expanding her wholesale jewelry line and opened a retail shop, Tiffany Peay Jewelry located in a renovated historic Tiverton Four Corners building. Full of natural light, the warm unpretentious space, which functions as both shop and work studio, is feminine and relaxed reflecting her collection of necklaces, rings and bracelets handcrafted with different shades of gold, gemstones and pearls.
As a fresh graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where she studied metalsmithing and glass working, Tiffany headed to NYC with only the guarantee of subletting from a friend for three months. It was an exciting time to be in the city chasing down a job the old fashioned way by circling want ads in The New York Times and faxing off paper copies of her resume. Just as her housing was ending she landed her first job which gave the then 21-year-old a business acumen which has served her well to this day. “I worked for a company that made high-end jewelry for Tiffany’s and Van Cleef and Arpels. I learned at a young age how to break down the cost of making a piece of jewelry, everything from the pricing to the weight of the stone,” she says. “They also sent me to diamond grading school and I learned so much about the business of making jewelry.”
That knowledge affects her designs to this day. “My work is really based on the gem and the search for the gem,” Tiffany explains. “It will sing to me and if I put the right necklace on you, it will sing to me. Gems are powerful with each one having its own attributes, which can really affect you.”
A big benefit of Tiffany’s shop location is that Tiverton Four Corners is a sales tax free zone and she credits her landlord Rosalind and late husband Jim Weir for fostering and promoting working artists in the village. “In New York City there was always fashion pressure and so much stimulus going on around me it was overwhelming,” says the designer whose work has been carried by Barneys New York, Barneys Japan and Banana Republic, to name a few. “My work is so much more of a beautiful complete collection here in Tiverton. I have really changed and gotten away from all of that negative energy and have embraced community here, which is so much better for everything. “
Thanks to the shop’s success, Tiffany is able to employ five including herself, two seasonal sales associates, a part-time bookkeeper and Hannah Soares, who year round handles sales and the active special events and marketing programs which Tiffany feels are an integral part of her success. This month the store will have its annual Mother’s Day sale May 10-11 and will participate in year two of the popular Tiver-
ton Four Corners Nestival.
Tiffany knows that to be a successful jewelry store it is important to attract customers of all means and to create a welcoming atmosphere for the most causal buyer. “We like to think anyone can come in and we will educate them and share the knowledge and the experience of gems and how jewelry is made even if they don’t buy here.” While there are many high end pieces in the shop, Tiffany also offers a make your own gemstone charm necklace with a price point starting at $30 per charm. “I have customers who will spend hours selecting gems for a charm necklace. It is not a complicated piece of jewelry but it is special and allows the customer to be very much involved in the process.”
She recently started teaching Intro to Wire and Metalsmithing at Newport Art Museum and is not limiting her instruction to the physicality of creating but plans to share the businesses part of being a jeweler.
The reason customers come into her shop is simple says Tiffany, “jewelry is fun to wear. Who doesn’t want to support a local artist and our shop?” After so many years in business, what is Tiffany’s biggest challenge these days? “I have an intuition which I act on and make things that sell. I have more ideas for jewelry than I have time to make.”
3851 Main Road, Tiverton. 401-816-0878