I recently had the pleasure of visiting Hunt Country Jewelers: a second-generation family owned gem of a jewelry store in picturesque Purcellville, VA, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
First things first: the setting. Purcellville is a beautiful little town in the heart of Virginia wine country. Rolling hills, wide skies, friendly residents, wine everywhere. It’s worth visiting on its own.
Hunt Country Jewelers is right in the middle of the town, across from a distillery. It’s a bright, open, thoughtfully-designed space that feels like a gallery without the standoffishness. Warm wooden display cases, bright lit, dot the room, holding everything from large, custom show pieces to sterling silver earrings to loose gemstones awaiting their fates.
I met Logan and Carolyn of Hunt Country Jewelers at a GIA event some months ago. After chatting with Carolyn for a few minutes, I complimented her glasses frames: they were gold colored, with pretty little details. She responded, “Oh, thanks! My husband made them,” and then proceeded to tell me how she was tired of needing to have bent glasses frames repaired, so her husband simply made her a pair out of actual gold so that he could fix them himself at his jewelers’ bench whenever necessary.
If that doesn’t make you want to meet these people, you’re reading the wrong blog.
The ring above features a tanzanite that Logan and Carolyn brought back from their honeymoon (didn’t you visit gem mines on your honeymoon?) in a custom-made setting that shows a tiny wildlife scene: here in the foreground you can see a rose gold mama elephant with her baby, in front of the spreading branches of a stand of trees that hold the central tanzanite.
Every step of the process – from selecting and cutting the tanzanite to designing, creating, and perfecting the setting – was conceived and executed by a member of the Hunt Country Jewelers family. And when I say “family,” I do mean family: husband and wife Ed and Claire Cutshall were the ones who founded the business, and now their son Logan, and his lovely wife Carolyn are involved as well.
That’s three lapidaries and two Gemologists: Ed even holds the patent to a gemstone cut, the Jubilant Crown, and his designs have taken home awards in both the International Pearl Competition and the AGTA Spectrum Awards.
In other words: small shop, little town, staggering amounts of knowledge and talent.
Logan, following in his father’s gemological footsteps, has even been dabbling in gem importing through his connections at certain African mines. He says he enjoys seeing all the rough that comes through and – even better – he gets first pick of the stones.
It only takes one look around the showroom to see that Hunt Country Jewelers is run by people who love gemstones: bright green garnets, vibrant tourmalines, and rich tanzanites stand out among more frequently seen stones like aquas, diamonds, sapphires, and amethyst.
Hunt Country Jewelers’ signature style is light and airy, often featuring swirling designs reminiscent of Celtic knots but more freeform. It’s beautiful and distinctive, providing a perfect foil for stones like the perfect tanzanite in the setting above.
The Hunt Country Jewelers’ showroom is dominated by one-of-a-kind pieces, but the store is starting to expand into some limited edition lines of designs reproduced a few different ways, or with a few different stones: I saw this lovely, leafy necklace with a few different stones – and as a pair of matching earrings! The garnet was my favorite.
With so many jewelry experts in one place, innovation is inevitable. Here’s one experiment that I was able to see for myself: these rings have articulated shanks that fasten in the back like a watch. They’re completely handmade, and extremely cool.
The idea was to create a ring that arthritis suffers could put on without needing to slide it over swollen knuckles. (Logan told me that he was happy with the design, but that he hopes to make it even better.)
Here’s a very special custom piece. This one is Papa Ed’s work, the senior Mr. Cutshall. He was inspired by the ethereal fire of this opal to craft it a setting that featured a tiny fairy and a tiny dragon gazing at each other across the stones. The whole design flows with an organic energy that makes it feel like it’s a scene you’re seeing in a dream, rather than something that somebody made.
In conclusion: I urge you to go to Purcellville, VA, drink some local wine, and visit Hunt Country Jewelers. Ask Carolyn for a restaurant recommendation – she knows her stuff. You won’t be sorry.
This post is brought to you by Hunt Country Jewelers.