For many, the thought of JB Hudson, the grande dame of Twin Cities jewelry institutions, leaving the beautifully appointed space it’s occupied for nearly eighty years was unthinkable. But times change and the evolution of JB Hudson from your grandmother’s well-stocked jewelry box to a place that offers the classics side by side with the hip and trendy, called for a fresh new location—appropriately—in one of downtown’s crown jewels, the Young Quinlan Building (901 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-338-5950). So from the circa-1929 Spanish Renaissance–style space, the gemstones, adornments, and walnut jewelry cases made the trip down Nicollet to the 1926 limestone art deco structure that was originally built as the Young Quinlan department store and recently housed Polo Ralph Lauren.
The move provides more street presence for the fine-jewelry boutique, more physical space, and underground valet parking. Jeannie Joas, co-owner and the face of JB Hudson, sees the move—and decorative changes to the Polo space—as a way to showcase the old-meets-new aesthetic JB Hudson has embraced for the brand. The traditional details of the space now have a nouveau classical edge. Red floors were stained dark, and woodwork has been painted in a combination of chic matte black in some areas, white in others. Pops of citrus green velvet, raspberry-colored furnishings, and a lapis blue wall further the sense of modernity. The updated surroundings allow the refurbished original display cases and luxe lighting fixtures (that also made the move) to share the spotlight with the fabulous jewelry.
Many of the same jewelry lines are still present, but each has been organized in way that creates more of a shopping experience. There’s the trend room—fashion-forward looks from the likes of H. Stern, John Hardy, and Casato; a fine jewelry area—Mikimoto pearls, Italian brands Ambrosi, Valente, Torrino, and Di Modolo; an atrium full of watches positioned as the largest selection in town—Cartier, Chopard, Raymond Weil, Glashutte; and, of course, an estate room. “This represents the best of the old,” says Joas. “The period pieces, like art deco diamonds, handmade Victorian jewelry, and brightly colored stones from the Indian period, are something that JB Hudson has always been known for.” And then there’s the diamond salon, a light-filled sanctuary squared off by citrine velvet drapes where couples can come for private diamond-buying sessions.
JB Hudson’s reinvestment in downtown retail, and reinvention of itself, ushers the store and the brand beautifully into a new era while remaining respective of its heritage. And, of course, case after case of sparkly diamonds and breathtaking gemstones don’t dim the luster either.