NYC Jewelry Store Love Adorned Elevates the Art of the Hunt

Love Adorned is one of the most beguiling stores in New York City. And considering NYC's stature as a top-tier retail kingdom, that’s saying something.

The charming space it inhabits – inside a pre-war building with tin ceilings painted white and two large skylights – sits at 269 Elizabeth Street in the NoLita neighborhood, a chic, tree-lined enclave bordered by SoHo, Little Italy, and the Lower East Side. The 13-year-old store carries a unique array of fine jewelry, but it's much more than a jewelry store; owner Lori Leven carries everything from graphite-chalk-and-wood-scented candles to sunglasses, books, and even dried flowers.

On a recent visit to the shop, Leven recalls that when she was looking for a space over a decade ago, "it was Elizabeth Street or bust.” She had debuted her very first store, New York Adorned, on Second Avenue in the East Village in 1996. The space was actually a tattoo shop (run illegally for a year before the city lifted a longtime ban put in place because of a Hepatitis B outbreak in the 1960s). Jewelry was a front for the clandestine operation. The ban was lifted in 1997, but not before it became clear to Leven what her customers really lined up for: the jewelry she hand-picked.

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Jewelry mixes with books, gifts, and more at Love Adorned

From the beginning, Leven set out to give New Yorkers something unique, so she picked up much of her inventory on overseas trips to India, France, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico. “I’m a high-end hoarder,” Leven quipped. “I would have conversations and say, ‘This is my stuff store. I’m going to carry things that make me happy.’ I started out to make the store a joyous experience. If your work is joyous, then it’s never work." 

Leven has mastered the kind of merchandising that inspires discovery in her stores (she has a second shop in Amagansett, N.Y.).  "I’m a shopper and when I would go in and out of stores I would see the same things," she says. "I knew New Yorkers deserved more.” 

Her instincts have served her well—in this era of social media and online shopping, Love Adorned has remained a choice destination for a certain ilk of stylish shopper. 

Walk into the downtown NYC boutique and you’re immediately drawn into a rarified world of vintage jewelry, pottery, and hanging plant pods. A giant white canoe is suspended from the tin ceiling. Throughout the open-feeling space there are oddities and eccentricities such as painted tree branches, fluffy square cushions, and Southwestern rugs. There's a giant hanging geometric mobile. Wherever your eye lands, there's something pleasing, unusual, or special to look at. 

When it comes to jewelry, Leven is choosy but not fussy. One of the first jewelry designers she championed was Anna Sheffield, a tattoo-ed native New Mexican with a background in sculpture and a penchant for creating delicate engagement rings out of rough diamonds, black diamonds and recycled metals. Sheffield is now a firm favorite with fashion-conscious brides, and has her own boutiques. 

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Jewelry trays at Love Adorned in NYC
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The store's enchanting flower display

Some of our favorite finds from a recent store visit include a chunky pink sapphire cocktail ring by Brooklyn-based Page Sargisson hand-carved in 18k gold ($6,380); an untreated Afghan lapis lazuli double-drop necklace by Lou Zeldis Studio from Bali, Indonesia—a deep blue indigo stone wrapped in 22k gold ($1,1250); and a gold moon-face bangle bracelet featuring diamond eyes in 18k yellow gold by Anthony Lent ($10,580).

There are two things you can be fairly certain of if you decide to invest in a piece of jewelry at Love Adorned: You're unlikely to see it anywhere else, and that Leven has put it through its paces when it comes to comfort and wearability. “I have to see how [jewelry] interacts with the body,” she explains. “Is the metal smooth inside? Does it turn to the side? When you put a necklace on, are there bits that catch? Jewelry has to come with me in life. Then I want to take it off and put it in my jewelry box.”

But you don't have to have a sky-high credit card limit or loads of cash to shop Love Adorned. It's also a great gift shop (for yourself or others) where you can pick up quality incense, a cool pair of socks, or an inexpensive necklace charm. While plenty of people come for the pricey engagement rings and other fine jewelry, Leven is equally pleased by the college student who's clearly inspired by the sheer act of wandering through the environment she's created. “If I can supply inspiration to someone, that’s magical,” said Leven. It's also an art. 

Love Adorned, 269 Elizabeth St., New York City; and at Amagansett Square, Amagansett, N.Y.