Its been almost a year now since the well-known Del Ray jeweler Mia Gemma pulled up its stakes from Mount Vernon Avenue and moved to 933 F Street, NW in DC’s resurgent Penn Quarter.
Mia Gemma, a high-end boutique jeweler known for unique and limited edition stones and precious metals, had become a retail icon during its three years in Alexandria, but as for owner Irene Barbieri, her heart still remains in Del Ray, where she still lives.
We’re delighted that Mia Gemma has brought a new concept in jewelry design and shopping to the business, residential, and art community of the Penn Quarter area,” Barbieri said. “Th e gallery and boutique has more space and serves a broader market at our new location for those who wear jewelry, collect jewelry or are interested in supporting artists who create jewelry.”
Mia Gemma, which is Italian for My Gem’ emphasizes style and design that is timeless. “Th e name, Mia Gemma, means a lot of things to me,” Barbieri said. “It represents a lifelong passion of mine to open my own place and to do something creative and design focused. In addition, my grandparents are from Italy. So the name mia gemma’ brought my background in as well as some of the Italian-made jewelry that I feature in my store.”
The shop prides itself on superior customer service. “When you visit, you will fi nd comfortable chairs and a place where you can relax and take time to explore the many unique pieces this shop carries,” said Barbieri, who specializes in helping her clients select custom pieces that refl ect their own personal style. “I wanted to create an environment for women to relax and treat themselves well. Th e design of this shop – everything from the colors on the walls to the ceiling – is soothing, beautiful and comfortable. It is our mission to deliver to our customers creative interpretations of classic design by up and coming artists in a comfortable, elegant environment.”
Barbieri is becoming known for bringing the work of new artists into the hands of her clients. Ann Parten, who has known Barbieri for years, is familiar with her commitment to make her customers happy. “Irene has a great eye and a talent for discovering emerging artists,” Parten said. “She cultivates a relationship with each artist to create special pieces for her clients. It’s like custom-tailoring, but with jewelry and accessories.”
When asked how she selects her inventory, Barbieri said, “I look for unique pieces that are hip, cool and elegant and I make a point of getting to know the artists. I have several artists from New York City, who do fabulous work. I want great stuff that is beautiful and interesting.
And I like variety. I have handmade bags from England and jewelry made in Italy. I also have handbags from a designer in Charlottesville and scarves from a New York artist.”
Like beautiful gems, this shop has many intriguing facets including exquisitely woven silk scarves and exotic custom-made jewelry by renowned artists. “Th ey are defi nitely pieces that when you wear it, people will notice,” Barbieri said.
In addition to off ering custom-made jewelry, Mia Gemma features wedding bands and bridal jewelry. She and her staff work with each bride to customize everything – the design, color, length or material ensuring that every piece is a perfect accent for her gown.
Barbieri, originally from New York, is no newcomer to the D.C. area. She’s lived here for 26 years. Living in Del Ray puts her closer to her daughter, who “has been a huge factor in me starting my own business…She supported me from the very beginning. I looked at lots of opportunities. But this was my original idea and it was the beauty of the idea that I kept coming back to.”
Tina Games Evans contributed to this article.