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Jeweller has positive outlook for St George

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Three generations: Saltwater Jewellery Design shop on Water Street, St George’s is run by Kelli Thompson, left, with assistance from her mother Roseclair Thompson, seated, and daughter Mya-Erin Thompson. On display at the left is an early example of Water Wings, which is made from Venetian glass and will be the shop’s signature piece for 2017 when the Island hosts the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup

From market-stall beginnings Saltwater Jewellery Design has flourished to the point where it now enjoys a prime position in St George’s key retail area, Water Street, just a few steps from King’s Square — the heart of the Olde Town.

And the business’s improving fortunes appear to be in step with a brightening outlook for the town, which during the past decade suffered the double hit of the economic recession and the loss of regular visits by cruise ships.

Owner Kelli Thompson is in no doubt that things are on the up, both for her shop and the town.

“St George’s is moving forward. There are a lot of new businesses that have appeared, and while a few have closed others have started up. Everyone is trying their hand at entrepreneurship,” she said.

Any fledgling businesses searching around for an inspiring example of what can be achieved need look no further than Saltwater Jewellery Design.

It was 17 years ago that Ms Thompson and her family started collecting sea glass on a local beach and used it to make jewellery items, such as necklaces.

The jewellery was sold at hotels, including the old Sonesta Hotel and Pink Beach Club, and from market stalls and at events, including Harbour Nights.

Then Ms Thompson decided to see where the business could go next and opened the first Saltwater Jewellery Design shop on Duke of Clarence Street, St George.

Buoyed by success, the shop moved to a busier spot, halfway along York Street, in March 2013. But before the year was out it was moved again, this time to an even more central location.

Ms Thompson had been walking along the pedestrianised Water Street when she noticed an empty retail unit only a few yards from King’s Square. She made enquiries with a property agent, the late Peter Lever, and seized the opportunity.

“It’s been a fantastic spot for us,” she said, explaining the higher number of visitors and shoppers who stroll by and stop to check out the shop and its selection of handcrafted jewellery and its range of handbags imported from Great Britain and Cuba.

“We call this the prime retail walkway. It has given us a noticeable presence and it’s made a difference,” she said.

Saltwater Jewellery Design is a family business. Ms Thompson’s daughter Mya-Erin Thompson and mother Roseclair Thompson assist in the shop and making of the jewellery pieces, which are created from a variety of materials such as Bermuda sea glass, semi-precious stones, fresh water pearls, and Italian Venetian glass.

The shop’s distinctive logo was created by Ms Thompson’s son Jarae Thompson, who has just completed a master’s degree in graphic design at the University of Greenwich, London.

The shop recently gathered international exposure when the in-flight magazine of Canadian airline WestJet gave it a mention in a feature article on Bermuda.

In the near future Saltwater Jewellery Design plans to expand into online shopping with a website.

The Thompson family has been working on a signature jewellery item for 2017, inspired by Island’s hosting of the America’s Cup. The necklace, named Water Wings, contains a curved piece of black Venetian glass that hints at Oracle Team USA’s wing sail.

With the shop’s fortunes mirroring the uptick in interest St George’s is experiencing as a visitor and shopping destination, Ms Thompson said of the town: “St George’s is a truly Bermuda experience. Things are picking up and will continue to pick up, although they could put on more ferries at the weekend.”

And on running a handcrafted jewellery retail store, she said: “It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We have three generations of the family involved. I’ve enjoyed it and I always say that as long as you have a creative mind you can do anything.”

Saltwater Jewellery Design is located at 6 Water Street and has a Facebook page.

Eye-catching designs: Handcrafted jewellery on display at Saltwater Jewellery Design on Water Street, St George’s
Wide selection: Handcrafted jewellery on display at Saltwater Jewellery Design on Water Street, St George’s