Jewelry, New Orleans
What to buy:
The French Market is full of vendors selling jewelry, but Oscar Donahue III is the only one who is an artist: he actually designs and makes the jewelry he sells. His earrings and pins are bright and whimsical and are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. They are truly a form of wearable art and are very reasonably priced.
I own three pairs of his earrings and five pins: a Mardi Gras mask, a martini glass, a saxophone-playing crawfish, a Hurricane Katrina house pin, and a Hurricane Gustav pin. I have often given his jewelry as gifts.
Small-world story: a woman who worked in the office across the hall from me has one of his woman-shopper pins, which a friend of hers brought back from New Orleans.
If you get down to the French Market, say "Hey" to Mr. Oscar for me. He's a very nice person and will give you a good deal. You can also order custom pieces via his website (see below). I commissioned him to make Hurricane Katrina pins for my Habitat for Humanity team, and he did so at a very fair price.
At the 2014 JazzFest, TV station WGNO reported on Oscar's booth: http://wgno.com/2014/05/01/oscar-hat-pins-are-huge-hit-at-jazz-fest/#axzz38hS1xpH9
This small shop located on Charles Street houses some of the most unique jewerly I've ever seen. The downstairs level specializes in original pieces by wonderfully talented artists, while the upstairs level displays various items of judica.
What to buy: I would have bought it all if I only had a wallet to support such a habit. The beautiful pendant pictured here is one of the pieces that I admired very much on my last visit.
What to pay: A pretty penny, but its worth it. These are wearable works of art after all. You can, however, purchase some beautiful, one of a kind earrings for under $50.
Although there are paintings and art visible in the picture, there are only two places where I can see a label which would indicate what the vendor's name was. One of the artists is Kathleen Olson Grumich of Nouveau Deco Inspirations who paints on silk clothing, and the other is Hidden Women of the Sea. But there were many other artists here at this little street fair, along with a jazz band. This was much more like what I had expected from the French Market and did not see.
What to buy: Hidden Women of the Sea makes jewelry out of those broken glass pieces that are smoothed by the sand and the sea. Their website says that they are three friends, and they make pendants, earrings and such items.
Mignon Faget, a New Orleans native, began her career designing ready to wear clothing before moving on to jewelry. She has shops in Canal Place, as well as on Magazine Street and in the Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie.
What to buy: Her jewelry often comes in two renditions, silver or gold. Her designs frequently incorporate local symbols -- red beans, crawfish, fleur de lis, etc.
There is such any array of unique and original jewelry pieces here. You can also hand pick individual rocks, gems, and semi-precious stones for custom made work. I was drawn to the huge crystals that were at least a foot long and 2 or 3 inches in diameter.
The clerks were friendly and very patient with us while we pondered endlessly handpicking stones and gems we wanted to bring home.
They had various reading material on the subject of gems and lapidary and an assortment of unique gift ideas. This is definitely a place we will be visiting again.
Open 9:30 A to 6P seven days a week.
What to buy: Stones, gems, hand crafted jewelry.
What to pay: Since they deal in wholesale the prices were very reasonable.
Heather Elizabeth's work is sold at the local art markets in New Orleans. The two monthly markets are the Bywater Art Market and the Arts Market of New Orleans. She shoots photographs of New Orleans and turns her photos into jewelry. What makes her pieces even more special, is that each piece is backed with a portion of old love letter from her great grandparents!!!
What to buy: Her pendants are great. She also sells NOLA photo night lights and winestoppers.
What to pay: Her pieces range from about $28.00 to $55.00. Really reasonable for handcrafted work.
Features both antique & modern jewelry, mostly in silver, but also in gold. You may also check out their wine openers, animal miniatures, clocks, cuff links, walking sticks, silver serving pieces, etc., etc.
I've been buying Oscar's Originals for over 10 years - wonderfully unique pieces of art that you can wear! Truly New Orleans flavor - pins of alligators or crawfish playing saxaphone, fleur de lis, angels, dogs, cats, elephants, shotgun houses, Mardi Gras masks - all are wonderful! He also makes lovely earrings - some with the same subject matter as the pins, and some beautiful abstract designs too.
The shop is a cart in the French Market, and is currently residing at the upper part of the facility, where the food is usually sold (vice the flea market section).
Oscar's prices are so low, you will want to start a collection right away! August 2011 prices were $10 for a pair of earrings, $10 for the small pins, and $15 for the large pins.