As many of you know, our dear Annabelle bid us bon voyage this past spring to move to New York City where she’s pursuing bench jewelry! Rachel and Claire were then joined by Jen to form the newest Sparkles squad. Take a moment to re-introduce yourself and learn some interesting trivia about your friendly neighborhood jewelers!
Rachel, aka “Rikishi:” President and owner of Sparkles Fine Jewelry, Diamond Lover. (Note: rikishi is the Japanese word for “sumo wrestler.” This nickname was bestowed upon Rachel by her younger sis! Thanks, Amy!)
Claire: Jewelry Consultant, Novice Yogi and Candle Hoarder.
Jen: Jewelry Consultant, Champion Napper, Rogue Poet.
What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?
Rachel: My engagement ring! The emotion and beauty of this ring is irreplaceable!
Claire: A few months ago, I found a vintage yellow gold swallow charm and turned it into a pendant. The charm is from England, where I studied abroad in college. Swallows represent freedom and hope, which is really resonating with me lately. Additionally, I am almost never without my grandmother’s engagement ring.
Jen: I have my late grandfather’s dog tags from WWII. I love them.
What’s your favorite piece of jewelry in the store?
Rachel: The diamond drop necklace. 7.79 carats of diamond deliciousness!
Claire: A white gold diamond cluster band. The band consists of small clusters of round diamonds that look like ovals from far away. I’m not usually draw to white gold, but I try this ring on almost every day at the store! I keep dropping less than subtle hints to my boyfriend about it. I may just have to treat myself 😉
Jen: The vintage pieces are always my favorites – I’m a vintage girl through and through.
What’s your favorite Chicago small business?
Rachel: I have a few favorites in the Andersonville hood: Murray & White, Milk Handmade, Let them Eat Chocolate, and Martha Mae.
Claire: Vincent restaurant in Andersonville. Their food is something to write home about, their décor is delightful, and they leave chalk in the restrooms so you can write on the walls. Sorry not sorry for how long I spend tagging Harry Potter and Doctor Who references all over them! #always #badwolf
Jen: I’m a huge fan of Rotofugi, which is a toy store for grown-ups down on Lincoln, Racine, and Diversey. I also love everything about Women and Children First.
When I’m not at Sparkles, I’m:
Rachel: …traveling to a jewelry show or meeting friends for dinner.
Claire: …in exotic locations risking my life to recover precious artifacts and save the world from complete devastation. Wait. That’s Lara Croft. Lara Croft does that. I’m not Lara Croft. Me? You can find me on the couch with my dogs binge-watching Netflix and drinking my weight in tea.
Jen: …reading, writing, walking my dog, demanding food.
What made you go into the jewelry business?
Rachel: I started at the young age of 18. A family friend owned a jewelry store and they needed some extra holiday help. I fell in love with the industry and had a blast helping people find the perfect gift and sharing in the excitement of so many special moments.
Claire: I’ve always been drawn to jewelry. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of playing with my mother’s rings. Being able to work with sparkly gemstones and rich precious metals on a daily basis seemed like the perfect fit.
Jen: I started backwards! I was working an admin position at a jewelry store as well as the project manager of the back-end of custom jewelry, which was super-fun and a great learning experience. I also loved meeting all the jewelers who worked by hand on each piece the company manufactured. My clients were jewelry stores across the country and beyond. I really love working with people face-to-face, so I came to Sparkles, and it’s wonderful here. I love our clients so much, and I love Andersonville, too!
Rachel: Blonde hair, always laughing, yellow-green cat eyes.
Claire: Red hair, flawless makeup, grandpa sweaters.
Jen: Curly hair, goofball expression, tattoo of baby driving car.
Rachel: Untangling necklace chains!
Claire: Excessive knowledge of all things British including but not limited to Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Benedict Cumberbatch, and making a perfect cuppa.
Jen: Competitive gluten-free eating, baby whispering, and toddler-level Mandarin. I’ve also got mad haiku skills.
I would be voted Most Likely To __________:
Rachel: Shop ’til I Drop!
Claire: spend money on clothes, makeup, or books before food.
Jen: Okay, in high school I was voted Most Fun-Loving, and at one point in college I was voted Most Likely To Get Hit on the Head with a Raw Potato. (Yes, that happened – at a show, when the Irish band threw a potato into the crowd. Maybe not super-thought out beforehand.) Now? I’m Most Likely to Sing You a Song Written on the Spot.
Who’s your hero/heroine?
Rachel: My hero is anyone who has gone through a large struggle in their lives and tries to see positivity.
Claire: Imaginary: Hermione Granger. Real life: Dame Helen Mirren.
Jen: Roxane Gay.
Rachel: A Man Called Ove.
Claire: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
Jen: Anything by Louise Erdrich, especially The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse. I also love George Saunders. This is a hard question for me. This could be its own blog post, or its own entire blog: 33 Years of Reading, Alphabetized.
Favorite movie or TV show:
Rachel: Movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and TV show Parenthood or Scandal.
Claire: Movie: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Show: BBC’s Sherlock.
Jen: Deadwood is the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV, and then Breaking Bad. Movie-wise, I love It Happened One Night and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
Currently on your playlist:
Rachel: “Chill Out” on Pandora.
Claire: Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Glass Animals, Tove Lo, and Chance the Rapper.
Jen: I’ve been on a big Whitney Houston kick.
Something about you your customers would never guess:
Rachel: I’ve been in the jewelry industry for over 13 years. I’m taking Spanish classes. I was a very active online dater with Tinder and OK Cupid, and I met my fiancé on both sites!
Claire: I’ve never eaten a PB&J. I feel like that’s a prerequisite for being American, so that usually shocks most people!
Jen: I’ve been a nanny, a potter, a burlesque performer, a stage manager, a singer in a vaudeville-style band, and a Pushcart nominee.
Waffles & Dudley, 5: best buds and co-conspirators.
Waffles is a shepherd mix from PAWS. She thinks any and all leftovers belong to her. Her ears are aerodynamic, her tail has a kink, and she has resting female dog face. While not naturally affectionate, her brother Dudley annoyed her until she gave in and became a snuggler. But don’t tell anyone, because she’d like to maintain her rep.
Dudley is a poodle/lab/wolfhound from Wright-Way Rescue. He has looked like an old man since puppyhood. Although he weighs in at 70 pounds, he thinks he’s the size of a bunny. He likes to be touching someone at all times, but he’s not, like, needy or anything. He was named after Cary Grant’s character in The Bishop’s Wife, not Dudley Do-Right.
Wiffy: 1 year; 11 lbs 11 oz; Bich-huahua, Bodyguard, Muse.
Wiffy came from a drug-bust in Nashville! He enjoys long walks, peanut butter, and soothing cello tunes. Wiffy’s a big fan of little kids, but if you’re an adult or you work for UPS, he wants you to know he might just MESS YOU UP. He loves to learn new tricks, and he has a deep-seated aversion to the DEA.
You’re not likely to run into our dog pals in the store, but feel free to come visit Rachel, Claire, and Jen anytime! We’re always happy to answer any questions you have, whether they pertain to jewelry, Andersonville, small business, or the relative merits of the book vs. the movie version.
All our Sparkly love,
Rachel, Claire, and Jen