By Alyse Diamantides / email@example.com
“I have to love it, or I can’t sell it,” said Donna Soodalter-Toman, owner of DIVA, a new jewelry store that opened July 1 in downtown Gloucester. DIVA stands for Donna’s Infinite Variety of Adornments and has a large selection of antique, vintage and contemporary designer jewelry, with some pieces dating back to the 18th century.
Jewelry “should be something that makes you feel better, makes you stand taller and makes you smile and feel more confident,” Soodalter-Toman explained. Her store has display cases filled with jewelry that range from $5 costume pieces to high-end, vintage ones in the thousands. “Everybody can find something that they really like,” she added.
The pink diamond design and fresh white paint on the walls give off an art deco feel when you step through the doors.
“My favorite thing to do,” Soodalter-Toman said is when “someone wants to match something.” If it’s for a wedding or specific outfit, she said she likes to bring customers outside their comfort zones and show them different kinds of pieces.
The owner and designer has been in the business for over 50 years and started out bead weaving and creating her own pieces in college. “I thought it was really interesting,” Soodalter-Toman said, and later began taking silver and gold classes. “I’d rather do something that’s different, that’s more unique,” she added.
“It just became a hobby and then a passion,” Soodalter-Toman said and went on to say she knew it was time to do something when her house started looking like a jewelry parlor. “I was in Newton, and I passed by this space,” Soodalter-Toman said and impulsively decided to open up her own store. She was still working a full-time job in health care at the time.
“I got interested, not just in contemporary, but antique and vintage because of the history behind it,” Soodalter-Toman said and started buying more vintage pieces. “I’ve re-learned history totally because of it,” she added and went on to say how Victorian jewelry has so many hidden meanings and symbols.
“I need to focus on this full time,” she said and explained that when a space opened on Main Street last November she decided to close her store in Newton and move her business and home to Gloucester. But she kept the name DIVA because it “had a good brand identity.”
Every shelf and display case is filled with different kinds of Victorian, Egyptian, Asian and retro-inspired pieces from Paris and more. There’s an entire wall lined with necklaces ranging in all different styles and price points. Earrings made from old buttons and bracelets formed from old typewriter keys sit on glass cases, along with a one-of-a-kind vintage handbag made from the red leather interior of a Corvette. But Soodalter-Toman said the store’s still “more contemporary than vintage.”
“It’s exciting when someone gets excited about a piece and it makes them feel better,” Soodalter-Toman said. “They learn how the artist made it and what materials went into it.” She said merchandise comes in everyday, but she continues to make her own pieces.
“It should be a fun experience,” Soodalter-Toman said and wants DIVA to become a destination. “I think people take it so seriously,” she said and she thinks shopping for jewelry should be fun.
Soodalter-Toman said people can come in if they’re looking to sell some of their own jewelry, but she has a few consign rules. She has to love the item, hopes someone else will love it, and the piece has to be something she doesn’t already have. She then looks at the condition of the item and determines the price.
DIVA has U.S. and Canada-based artists and a selection of pieces from Mass. jewelry designers. Soodalter-Toman said she’s always looking for innovative designs she hasn’t seen before.
DIVA will be at Gloucester’s annual Sidewalk Bazaar.
DIVA’s located at 161 Main St., Gloucester. For more information, visit http://adornmentdiva.com/.