You Dropped a (Peacebomb) on Me

I love this picture.  In today’s world that is filled with so much ugliness, the idea of flowers exploding in the air is a welcome site.  I was drawn into the Article22 booth at a recent trade show both by this image and by this spoon that was at the front of the display that said “this is not a spoon”.  As I was picking the spoon up and not understanding how it could be so light, someone approached me and said “it was a bomb”.  Excuse me, but what did you just say?  “A bomb.”  I needed to hear the story.

Article22 is a designer brand of hand crafted jewelry and home accessories that tells real stories of transformation of negative into positive.  The first collection, Peacebomb, is jewelry that has been up cycled by artisans in Laos.  It is made made from detonated bombs and other scrap aluminum and finished with precious metals and stones.  The bombs were dropped on Laos by the U.s. during the Viet Nam war; an  average  of  one  bomb-load  every  eight  minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years, approximately 250 million bombs. Laos  was  left  with  80  million  unexploded  bombs  contaminating  the  land.  Less  than 1%, around 500,000, of the bombs have been cleared.  A portion of the sales proceeds from the Peacebomb collection help fund the clearance of some of these unexploded bombs.

Earlier this month, Article22 was recognized by Prince Harry at Kensington Palace as he paid homage to the inspirational legacy of his mother 20 years after both her death and historic minefield walk which brought to life the horror still facing communities ravaged by war.

2017 also marks the signing and ratification of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, and MAG’s (the Mine Advisory Group) Nobel Peace Prize award.  ARTICLE22 has worked with MAG since 2010 and has donated funds to help clear over 150,000 square meters of bomb littered land in Laos.  This includes the removal of 400 unexploded bombs from the land of one artisan family in Naphia Village where the jewelry is produced.

And to think it all started with a spoon.

Happy New Year!  Wow!  It’s been waaaaayyyyyy too long since I’ve last posted anything — my apologies.  Now that we’ve turned the calendar to February, you know what that means – that designated day of love is upon us!  Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same here at Max’s if we didn’t celebrate it with the traditional live broadcast of the myTalk 107.1 ShopGirls show the Saturday before the big day, so that means that Allison and Harmony will be store on Saturday, February 11 between 11am and 1pm. Fine chocolates that are sold in a fine jewelry store – do you think they’ll have anything to talk about?!?!? Yeah, I think so too!

Our shelves and cases are full of things that would make great gifts – for all of the special people in your life. If you’re looking for some jewelry gift ideas, jump on over to our Valentine’s Day gift guide — it’s a bit of a (jewelry) love story!  If jewelry isn’t your thing, how about if I try to tempt you with some of our chocolates selections? One of the staff favorites right now is a new line of from Australia. They’re absolutely delicious and with a name like “goddess bars”, they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day. Of course we have assorted heart collections with fillings like bourbon ganache, single malt scotch and, of course everyone’s favorite — sea salt caramel.

Those are just a  few little teasers that I hope that has tempted you to stop by and let us help you with your Valentine’s shopping – or any shopping that you’re doing.

It’s Time for Max’s Semi-Annual Sale!

Ready.Set.Time to spend those holiday gift cards!  Starting at 30% off and going all the way to 80%, we’ve marked down several items that just might have your name written on them. Whether it’s because you’re feeling that Santa disappointed a bit this year, you received lots of gift cards as gifts, or you just feel like doing some shopping to treat yourself, it’s a great time to stop in to the store. It’s not just the sale items that are sure to be tempting, because we were receiving new items through the holiday shopping season, so there are sure to be many things that you haven’t even seen yet. The sale runs through January 14 but….you know how it goes….when it’s gone it’s gone, so you might want to shop early!


It’s Time for the Erica Molinari Trunk Show!

Holiday shopping this weekend? I hope so and I hope that you’ll stop in for the trunk show with jewelry designer Erica Molinari. For those of you who know Erica, you know that things get a bit crazy – in a good way of course – when Erica is in the store with her full collection of sterling silver and gold charms. Well, things are going to get just a bit crazier because Erica has been hard at work expanding not only the charm line, but her collection of gemstone rings, gold earrings and gold bands – many with inspirational inscriptions on the inside that are similar to those on her charms (and featured in the pic above) – not to mention an entirely new enamel line! Yep, our favorite Olympian-turned-jewelry designer has been hard at it since she was last at the store, and this weekend’s show is sure to be a lot of fun. Erica will be in the store all day Friday and Saturday, December 8 -9. The holidays are coming up fast, and we’d love to help you with your shopping. Jewelry, gifts, chocolates — what are you waiting for?!?!

Join Us for Small Business Saturday!

Join us this Saturday, November 26, to shop small and keep it local!  In the spirit of the season and to show our appreciation for your support, we’re “paying it forward” with a “points forward” day.  Use the points that you would normally earn for a future purchase against your purchase on Saturday.  In other words, if you spend $100 on Saturday and earn 10 points, we’ll take $10 off of your invoice!!!
One of our favorite traditions continues as The ShopGirls from MyTalk 107.1 will in the store for a live broadcast on Saturday!  We love it when Allison and Harmony visit to dish about all things shopping, and think that it’s a great way to celebrate Small Business Saturday and kick off the official start of the holiday shopping season!

Suzy Landa Says “Fine Jewelry Should be Fun Jewelry!!!”

We couldn’t agree with her more if we tried!  Suzy Landas jewelry is all about big, bright vibrant colored gemstones with accents of white diamonds – soooo gorgeous. Our customer’s love it when Suzy visits – both because they swoon over her jewelry and also because she’s so much fun to hang out with and she’s going to be here for 4 days! Suzy thinks that “fine jewelry should be fun jewelry” and when she hears that people have the good stuff locked away in the safety deposit box, she says “what are you saving it for?”  Join us for some fun and enjoy perusing her swoon-worthy jewelry — Friday, December 1 (beginning at 2pm) through Sunday, December 4.

Meet Todd Pownell This Weekend!

One of the things that I love best about this business is being able to introduce our customers to the designers they love. It allows them to hear, first hand, how the jewelry is made and the inspiration behind it. It’s always fun to welcome a designer to Max’s for the first time and this weekend, Todd Pownell is in the store for a trunk show!  Todd launched Tap by Todd Pownell 2008 and it has, from the onset, has been really well received and in very high demand. Todd’s signature is the inverted setting of diamonds, which makes them really, really shine. Many of his designs have a bit of a rough and rugged feel, making this a very fresh and cool collection to explore. Please join us as we welcome Todd to Max’s Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12.

It’s a Trunk Show Double-Header!

Fall is my favorite season of the year – it’s time to pull the cozy sweaters and fun boots out of the closet, the air feels fresh and brisk and the colors on the trees are gorgeous. It’s also my favorite time because it’s when the second half of our event schedule really kicks into high gear. We’re falling into fall in October at Max’s on the 28 and 29th with a double-header! Yep, it’s going to be two jewelry trunk shows at once, featuring the work of Alex Sepkus and John Iversen. Each piece of Alex’s is a work of art, in which the metal is hand textured  under a microscope to achieve the patterns he desires and paired with gorgeous stones  — they’re wearable mosaics. John Iversen’s nature-inspired jewelry pieces are also works of art. Each vein in his hydrangea collection is finely worked, the edges of his distinctive leaf series ripple as though they are actually dried, and his chain links are subtly textured to reveal the quality of the metal. It’s going to be a colorful, beautiful and highly artful weekend at Max’s on October 28-29 and I hope that you’ll join us.


The Wait is Over! It’s the Polly Wales Trunk Show!

I first met Polly Wales in a phone booth. I know — that sounds weird, doesn’t it? It was actually all very innocent. It was a few years ago and Polly had recently sent me some information about her new jewelry collection. I was intrigued by the pictures she sent. Fast forward a couple of months and I learned that she was at a trade show I was shopping — not as an artist trying to sell her jewelry, but as a friend of another artist whose work I was buying. When we met, we agreed that we should set up some time for me to look at the small sampling of her collection that she was traveling with at the time.  We needed a spot that was not on the show floor but not to terribly far away.  Low and behold — the phone booth! Ok, so it was actually more of a phone “room” — not very big by any means, but big enough for a few of us to congregate in to view Polly’s beautiful creations.  Fast forward another year, and Polly took the jewelry world by storm and I couldn’t resist!

A British designer who has recently re-located her family, business and studio to LA, Polly describes her jewelry as never having a perfect moment. Her process is to cast an array of gemstones inside precious metal to create pieces that always have unique and slightly unpredictable outcomes. Her jewelry has a rough luxe to it – she describes it as a “from the earth aesthetic – as if geodes had split open and stones broke through the surface of the gold at random points.

The word “unique” is so often overused, but I really do believe that it’s a word that truly describes this jewelry.  Why don’t you stop in and see for yourself at our trunk show September 23 and 24.

How To Go Chocolate Buying & Not Gain 5 Lbs!

So….made you look, huh?!?!  Well, what I’m really talking about chocolate buying as a buyer for a store, walking a convention center filled with option-upon-option of the tasty stuff from all over the world.  I just returned home from the Fancy Food Show in NYC where, I’m happy to report, I found some delicious new selections that will soon be on our shelves.  I’ve been shopping this show ever since we open the store, and I don’t know that I ever seen it this crowded.  When I first started going to the show, I was overwhelmed by all of the choices – not just the chocolate that I was shopping for, but all of the choices in so many categories of food – crackers, cookies, cheese, pastas, yogurts, – I could go on and on and on. During the recession, there’s no doubt that attendance at the show dropped off – both in terms of attendees looking for new products, but also exhibiting vendors.  Well, this year it certainly seems to me that we’re back at it and we’ve hit our stride again, because this show absolutely wiped me out!

Of course, there was a lot of chocolate tasting going on – after all, how else would I know if it’s a good fit for Max’s and whether I think you’d like it?!? The show is so huge, and the chocolatiers and chocolate distributors are spread throughout the convention center. I used to think that that was confusing and, while it’s still is anything from straightforward, I have learned that the opportunity to sample a lentil chip or some humus  in between chocolate bites is not only a nice break, it’s almost a necessity. People often tell me joke with me about what a “rough job” I have, but the truth of the matter is it really is hard to sample all this chocolate (cue the violins)! When you start at 10:00 in the morning and all you’re  searching for is chocolate, it does not take long before both your flavor pallet and your stomach are overwhelmed and can’t decipher the differences between the options. One of the best ways to cut through the flavor characteristics of the samples is to take advantage of the coffee samples from the roasters exhibiting at the show. Before long, I find myself up to the brim with chocolate and coffee—wheeeeee!!!!!!!  Having said all of this, I obviously have to admit that it really is fun to come shop for new chocolates. I’m excited about what I’ve tasted and what we’ve decided to bring to Max’s yet this year. Chocolate with coconut – coconut flakes, coconut milk, coconut sugar – it’s a huge trend and you’ll start seeing more of that in the store soon. I really can’t  call sea salt chocolate a trend anymore, because it’s been around just too long to be a trend. I feel safe in saying it’s not going anywhere for the foreseeable future and has actually become quite common place. Don’t misunderstand that for me saying that I don’t like it – I actually love it! – it’s just that it’s not terribly unique anymore.   

The purity of food – in all categories, not just chocolate – continues to be a real focus. Non-GMO, allergen free, gluten free (which is also so mainstream and everywhere that it can hardly be called a trend anymore) were features that were heavily promoted by vendors in many food categories.  Nut milks were big — I loved the macadamia milk!  Healthy snacks are also huge–I sampled quite a bit of fruit bites, dried fruit, puffed fruit, crackers made with rice, quinoa, kale — you get the point. Those of you who know me well know that this is a big deal for me – both because of my own food sensitivities/intolerances and a strong personal need to focus on ingredients, but also because I feel that it’s important to you and it’s an issue of credibility. One of my pet peeves is when I find milk powder in dark chocolate. I get it when there is an inclusion in the dark chocolate – then all bets are off when it comes to some additives — but unless chocolate is labeled as a dark milk, I don’t understand why there is any milk in dark chocolate…???

About the picture above.  While I wasn’t shopping for cheese in addition to the chocolate, I thought that this might help convey just how huge this show is — and this is only part of one floor of the show — this shows row 1800 and it went to 5600.  I hope that you’ll stay tuned for information about our new arrivals.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in some of the offerings we currently have, you can check it them out here.  I’m off to the gym because I really didn’t find any way to eat all of that chocolate and not feel it a bit around the waist!  🙂

Travel to Hawaii–with Vicente Agor

I love Hawaii.  Everything about it — the beauty of the island, the blue of the ocean which seems to go on forever, the food, the aloha spirit (which does exist).  I also love the inspirations behind the various jewelry collections from Vicente Agor (who, incidentally, grew up in Hawaii).  Vicente is one of the designers who, in my opinion, really thinks about what he wants a specific collection to represent before he sets out to create it.  It’s not just about pretty stones and pretty design — it’s about using those things to tell a story.

In his most recent collection, called Hokule’a, his inspiration is the story of how the first Hawaiians — Polynesians who traveled by double-hulled sailing canoe from Tahiti — arrived at the islands. Hōkūleʻa means star of gladness in Hawaiian and is also the Hawaiian name for Arcturus, the brightest star in the northern hemisphere. The voyage was reenacted in 1975, without use of modern navigation equipment to honor those initial expeditions by the islands’ ancestors.

According to Vicente, “In the 1970s, the Hawaiian people had become a caricature in hula skirts and loud printed shirts, and this voyage was empowering to the people. It reminded them that their ancestors had the wherewithal to navigate the oceans and use natural elements like the sun and stars to sail these long distances. And the interesting thing, in my mind, is that it motivated an entire generation to believe ‘you are greater than what you have been told.’ ”

In the Hokule’a collection, there are stylized gold versions of stars, water, moon and sun,the elements used to navigate the ocean, combined with conflict free diamonds and recycled 18K gold and gemstones.  It’s a beautiful way to tell this story.  We invite you to see it for yourself at our trunk show and Max’s 10th birthday celebration, this Friday and Saturday, May 20 and 21.  In keeping with what has become tradition at Max’s, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Vicente’s jewelry will be donated to Life-Source and the University of Minnesota Transplant Fund.