New Mission Boutique Fiat Lux Showcases Jewelry with Substance and Style
Fiat Lux is a jewelry boutique that wears its intellect and deep love of handcraftsmanship on its sleeve. The store is the pure embodiment of the fascinations, values and aesthetics of husband-and-wife team Alexei Angelides and Marie McCarthy. And a heady combination it is: Angelides holds a PhD in logic and proof theory (where math meets philosophy) from Stanford, and McCarthy, who studied biomedical engineering and art history at Northwestern, founded and still runs Rose Gold’s, the beloved Haight Street tattoo and piercing parlor. The boutique mixes Victorian with Art Deco, goth with mysticism, and tough with tender, showcasing McCarthy and Angelides’s handcrafted pieces, an exquisite selection of vintage and antique items, and collections by independent artists that McCarthy terms “heirloom and future heirloom” jewelry.
The light-filled, 1,200-square-foot Mission boutique is the next iteration of Fiat Lux’s original location, a tiny, 199-square-foot store in the Castro. Designed by McCarthy and Angelides, the new space is elegant and edgy—its black, white, grey and gold palette anchored by a custom mural by San Francisco artist Victor Reyes. Every element has been lovingly and meticulously realized, from the display case inspired by antique Victorian design, made by local craftsman Jeremiah Nielson, to the custom ring boxes that McCarthy created in collaboration with woodworker Michael Benton.
The couple has curated pieces by local and international artists from London, Israel, Los Angeles, New York and beyond. Metals predominate, but there are also works made of fabulously unexpected materials, such as necklaces in silk by textile artist Rhiannon Griego and in black cord by Eleanor Amoroso. Their breathtaking array of rings ranges from engagement solitaires to modern signets and the striking Fiat Lux Vintage Collection, featuring diamonds in unusual cuts. And if there’s nothing quite perfect, custom commissions are also available: Angelides and McCarthy make pieces in their on-site studio as well as at a jeweler’s bench tucked behind a sexy chain scrim at the boutique’s front.
While jewelry is, of course, the star of show, Fiat Lux also offers a tightly edited range of books and vintage jewelry-making tools; all are available for purchase, and each underscores the fine detailing and sheer physicality that is the essence of the craft. What also sets them apart are the ideas and symbols most important to McCarthy, Angelides and the growing Fiat Lux fan base. From Digby & Iona’s signet ring bearing San Francisco’s motto, “Oro en paz, fierro en guerra”—“Gold in peace, iron in war”—to DMD Metal’s ring inscribed with Nea Isis—Cleopatra’s self-given name—to the custom engagement rings that encode personal meaning, such as key dates, into their design, courtesy of Alexei’s academic grounding in math, symbols and philosophy.
As McCarthy says, “In this age, when we go a million miles a minute, we’re about slow jewelry: We want people to connect and realize the meaning behind everything.”
A version of this article appeared in the April/May 2017 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Enlightened Adornment.