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The Loupe is a hidden gem, discreetly located inside renowned lifestyle retailer Martin Patrick 3 in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. Established in 2018 and becoming independent in 2021, the boutique has quickly evolved into the premier destination for fine designer jewelry. Here, founder Kiki McMillan discusses the inspiration behind the current curated collection and points to specific pieces she loves.

Artful Living | The Loupe Founder Kiki McMillan Curates a Designer Jewelry Destination

Photography by Nicole Autumn

From the very first conception of The Loupe, I sought fine contemporary designers who are relevant and have a dialogue with the jewelry, design and fashion worlds. Having lived in New York City for most of my adult life, I am constantly inspired by eclectic, modern and sophisticated styles, and I wanted to bring this aesthetic of niche, high-end jewelry to the Midwest in an approachable and modest way. Simultaneously, as a native Minnesotan, it was very important to me to find a way to add value to the Minneapolis market. I believe in the power of brick-and-mortar, both to foster relationships and build community. Our physical store is now a touchpoint to do all of this as well as champion the artistry of the designers we carry.

The process of choosing these designers begins with understanding their point of view. We want to find jewelry that tells a story, that celebrates design and artistry. It is not just about the inherent beauty of a piece; it is about the potential relationship one can form with a piece over time. In this way, like modern heirlooms, these objects tell a story and become part of a dialogue, in one’s life and for future generations.

My background is in ceramic arts, and I’ve always had a natural appreciation for how things are made: the balance between form and function, the intricacies of craftsmanship, the consideration of materials. I am always inspired by our designers’ workmanship and attention to detail showcased throughout their collections.

Artful Living | The Loupe Founder Kiki McMillan Curates a Designer Jewelry Destination

A standout example of this is Brazilian designer Fernando Jorge, who reimagines wardrobe staples, creating jewelry that is distinctly sculptural and effortlessly sensual. His multi-chain necklace is composed of delicate 18-karat gold graduating parallel lines that offer an understated yet indisputably feminine look. Striking a balance between craftsmanship and innovation, he infuses his collections with movement, energy and a connection to natural elements. Using locally sourced and hand-carved gemstones and his signature gold finish, Fernando creates sophisticated jewelry, all with wearability in mind.

I get great inspiration from the extraordinary, innovative work of Brazil-based designer Silvia Furmanovich. A world traveler, she imbues her collections with the artistic traditions of a specific place and culture. In her own words, her design ethos is “not so much about creating beauty but seeking it out and recognizing the beauty that already exists in all things,” which inherently lends itself to a design approach that is elevated, sustainable and occasionally Old World. Her Marquetry collection is absolutely iconic, featuring fine jewelry and home accessories made from naturally colored salvaged wood from the Amazon.

In Silvia’s Japan collection, traditional Japanese bamboo weaving is intricately paired with precious stones and her signature marquetry technique is married with vintage textiles. After discovering a box of textile swatches from the Meiji period in Kyoto, she incorporated Nishijin — an iconic textile with richly colored threads — into the collection, an homage to traditional kimono dress. Rich with Japanese motifs, the swatches depict cranes, clouds, chrysanthemums and other symbols that reflect personal and social identity. In Silvia’s Obi clutch, pale green floral marquetry provides a backdrop to a stunning swatch of vintage gold-toned silk, synthesizing the historical and the contemporary, the refined and the raw.

Artful Living | The Loupe Founder Kiki McMillan Curates a Designer Jewelry Destination

Silvia’s travels across Uzbekistan inspired yet another of my favorite offerings. Within her Silk Road collection, she explores diverse textile traditions through a series of miniature-scale silk tapestry earrings. Composed of multicolored strands of pure silk and adorned with diamond, garnet and morganite set in 18-karat yellow gold, Silvia’s one-of-a-kind earrings each contain more than 1,600 meticulous knots, reflecting a traditional Uzbek design. Whether working with local silk weavers or incorporating vintage textiles, Silvia’s Silk Road collection honors tradition and suggests historical and worldly connections. I see her jewelry not only as exquisite works of art, but artifacts that create a dialogue with other cultures.

Overarchingly at The Loupe, we want to offer jewelry that transcends trends — that will endure and be passed down. Trained in classical goldsmithing, Caroline Ellen reimagines classical silhouettes in modern forms. Her design process finds beauty in simplicity, and we see this in the way she considers every detail, from 18-karat gold bangles with carefully set diamonds to her 20-karat gold engraved collection featuring Greek proverbs. With refined design and rarefied elegance, every piece is a timeless treasure.

I delight in rounding out our collections with a few super special pieces, knowing there is the chance one will catch a very specific eye and speak directly to that person. Praised for her use of kaleidoscopic color, Irene Neuwirth approaches her Gemmy Gem collection by using unexpected vibrant-colored stones to create beautiful, truly unique mosaics. We see this throughout her Tropical Flower collection, where meticulously hand-carved stone flowers are paired with bold center stones, creating one-of-a-kind pieces — flowers that last forever.

Artful Living | The Loupe Founder Kiki McMillan Curates a Designer Jewelry Destination

The designers we work with have a distinct and compelling point of view, which they translate from collection to collection. Overall, they have a refined design aesthetic and display meticulous craftsmanship. It is inspiring to discover cutting-edge design and innovation, and I love keeping a pulse on emerging designers and being able to offer new and diverse perspectives to our clients and community. Jewelry, ultimately, is extremely personal; it is all about what speaks to you, how you want to express yourself, what sentiments you want to capture. It can even have the talismanic power to remind us of who we are, where we have been and where we hope to go. Beyond the beauty, I love the almost alchemical quality that jewelry possesses: to speak, to tell a story, to become part of one’s personal journey. At The Loupe, we are honored to continue the art of storytelling through jewelry.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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