It was a walk along opulent Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills that prompted LA-based jeweller Irene Neuwirth to open her eponymous shop in nearby – but decidedly lower-key – West Hollywood. “The high jewellery stores that line that street always felt a bit intimidating and I wanted to create the antithesis of that,” says Neuwirth of the light-filled boutique on Melrose Place she opened in 2014. “This is a place where people can relax and even have lunch while browsing, and everything is meant to be touched,” she says. “There are elements of a traditional jewellery store, but really it’s just an inviting space that’s a reflection of me.”
With her heart set on this historic building with its ivy-covered façade, Neuwirth enlisted the help of Pam Shamshiri of LA’s Commune Design to create an eclectic backdrop for the colourful, whimsical pieces she designs for clients including Ruth Negga and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. White plaster walls, gently curving archways and marble floors all lend an organic feel, while jewelled sconces from legendary set designer Tony Duquette’s estate, a vintage pink couch and hand-knotted Moroccan rugs add unexpected touches.
Sleek vitrines and a dramatic diorama by LA artists Clare Crespo and Marine Panossian display the creations to dazzling effect. Her style is a vibrant mix of rare, semiprecious and precious stones – opals have long been her signature (opal and turquoise earrings, $3,260), often in their raw state, set in burnished or satin-finished 18ct gold.
Among her most sought-after pieces are her pear-shaped Cutout Drop earrings ($2,440) in various shades of burnished gold, including a pair ($6,890) with Akoya pearls. Necklaces have a California cool-meets‑Rajasthan vibe, with eye-catching offerings such as a 46cm rose-gold chain ($67,960) adorned with “charms” of pink Australian opal, moonstone, tourmaline, beryl, Mexican fire opal and full-cut diamonds. Satin-finished rose-gold bangles ($6,530) studded with onyx cabochons, a carved turquoise ring with diamond pavé ($6,930), and aquamarine and turquoise cabochon pendants (from $730) are more classic in style.
Bespoke pieces have included a stunning tiara (price on request) with Mozambique rubies crafted for last year’s Oscars, shoulder-dusting sapphire and tourmaline earrings (price on request) for the Met Gala in oxidised 18ct white gold and mismatched cufflinks (price on request) made of raw diamonds.
No detail of the store has been overlooked – from the flamingo topiaries that flank the entrance to the hand-held vintage mirrors with sunsets and swirling vines by local artist Aaron Morse. The store’s eat-in kitchen, complete with Lacanche stove, adds warmth to the space and invites visitors to linger – Neuwirth often hosts clients there, serving lunches such as vermicelli with mint and cucumber from the store’s neighbours, Croft Alley. “The boutique is a sensory experience and we encourage people to try things on,” she says. “Who knows? If not now, they might wish to have a piece later.”