I heard the words “you’ve never seen anything like it” several times in the months before Federico De Vera, a legend in San Francisco, opened his Soho store (1 Crosby Street; 212-625-0838). I was skeptical, but the minute I walked into the lofty space, I understood. This is not your usual store.
“It’s like walking into a museum where you can touch and buy things from someone’s personal collection,” says De Vera. The 41-year-old Philippines native travels the world buying objects that appeal to him (often only to take them apart and make them into something else). The mix is incredible, from architectural remnants to vintage and contemporary glass pieces to nineteenth-century dolls from India. But the real star is the jewelry. De Vera designs most of it himself, and, like his store, it’s a mixture of old and new in such a way that it’s a challenge to discern which is which. Rose-cut diamonds are De Vera’s obsession, in rings, earrings, hanging from leather cords, or set into a dazzling necklace. Sounds pricey, and on average it is—from $45 for a hand-blown glass ant from Italy to $95,000 for a necklace of sixteen big rose-cut diamonds. That’s a lot of rock for the buck.