Cruising along Watch Hill Road, the shoreline scenery speeding by, it’s easy to miss OMO Jewels & Gifts. A small roadside sign is the only indication that you’re in the right spot, a postage-stamp-sized gravel parking lot shared by a produce stand and Avondale Arts. Walk through the Avondale Arts entrance and you’ll find yourself in OMO, a bright, welcoming space that occupies the gallery’s two front rooms.
Owner Joanna Papineau Allen opened OMO just two years ago, but she practically grew up in the space. At the age of 17, she began working as a jewelry buyer for Sun Up Gallery, the building’s prior tenant. She remained with the gallery for 20 years, right up until it closed in 2014. When Avondale opened its doors a few years later, Allen saw an opportunity to carve out her own niche as a shop owner. “It felt like coming full circle,” she says of the shop, which she aptly named OMO, for “on my own.” She initially leased the galley-size space in back, expanding to the larger front room last fall. Allen’s keen eye, honed during her years buying and selling jewelry, is evident in the tightly edited selection of one-of-a-kind, handmade gifts sourced from across the country, all displayed with the kind of symmetry, balance and proportion befitting an art gallery.
There’s truly something for everyone and every budget. “I want everyone to feel like they can come in and find a beautiful gift, no matter the price,” she says. Given Allen’s background, it’s no surprise that bewitching gems and eye-catching silver and gold jewelry occupy much of the display-case real estate. Shoppers will find everything from an $18 pair of shoulder-grazing earrings to stunning gemstone rings ranging in price from $750 to $1,500. Beaded-stone and crystal pendants and drop earrings designed by former ballet dancer Miguel Ases beckon some attention. Handmade in New York City, Ases’ vibrant pieces lend serious fashion-cred to any ensemble. Lovers of all things vintage would welcome the reclaimed silver, gold and bronze talismans cast from authentic wax seals and images from the Victorian era. Each piece is symbolic, with images intended to inspire, offer protection, or celebrate a milestone. And for the star gazers, there’s the simply elegant silver, gold and diamond constellation pendants by Connecticut-based jewelry designer Carol Ackermann.
To stash all those jewels, OMO sells a whimsical line of handcrafted wooden jewelry boxes that are as much works of art as they are storage. The wall-mounted, nature-inspired jewelry cabinets are fashioned into colorful dragonflies, butterflies, flowers and honeycombs with small, individual jewelry compartments hidden within.
Among other customer décor favorites, says Allen, are laser-cut wooden nautical map trays and wall hangings depicting the Rhode Island shoreline and Long Island Sound that allow you to put your coastal New England pride on display. Spiritiles are also perennially popular and won’t break the bank at $129. Made by enameling artist Houston Llew, the tiles are crafted by hand using ground glass that is painted then kiln-fired to copper. The tiles feature images that call to mind simple, intimate moments in life—a father and son fishing, towering aspens reaching for the sky—with quotes stenciled on the sides.
For the holidays, hostess gifts abound with ceramic dishes, including a brie baker in a gorgeous shade of cerulean blue, for $35. On the higher end, ceramic platters and plates imprinted with autumnal leaves, wildflowers and greenery start at $75. Sweet little vases inspired by the ocean—think urchin and shell shapes in neutral shades—are a steal starting at $16.
Nothing says have yourself a cozy little Christmas quite like cashmere, and OMO will be stocking wraps, scarves and toppers in the sumptuous material, just in time for winter’s chill. Throw in a Nest scented candle and you’ll win Christmas. Speaking of, Allen will have plenty to choose from in the something-extra gift department, including all-natural Beekman hand creams and lip balms made from goat’s milk, Whiskey Stones, Wine Twirls wine chillers, stationery and other stocking-sized surprises.
For the holidays, OMO will offer complimentary gift wrap and, beginning Thanksgiving weekend, will be open seven days a week through the New Year. Insider’s tip: Stop by on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to score a deal during the Small Business Saturday sale.
OMO Jewels and Gifts is locate at 95 Watch Hill Road, Westerly, R.I. For more information, call 860-961-4678 or visit omojewels.com.