Custom jewelry comes in many forms, ranging from leather bracelets to elegant strands of diamonds and pearls. However, never before has an institution been created to display the techniques used to create this unique jewelry or showcase examples. Now, this is about to change: the first museum of custom jewelry design and manufacturing recently opened in Harrisonburg, VA.
On February 19, the Museum of American Jewelry Design and Manufacturing opened its doors to the public. Located in Downtown Harrisonburg, the museum is the first of its kind in the United States. By visiting the museum, visitors will be able to view a variety of custom jewelry design tools, artifacts and handcrafted jewelry, which founder Hugo Kohl has been gathering for more than 20 years. His collection includes antique hand-engraved hubs, dies and rolls, as well as over 7,000 pieces of custom jewelry, making it the largest jewelry hub in the U.S. Visitors will be able to interact with these manufacturing machines and tools in a controlled setting, allowing them to appreciate the beauty and skill necessary for these processes.
Kohl’s vision was a museum that could give visitors a visual, audible and sensory understanding of custom jewelry manufacturing. To accomplish this, the museum features an elevated floor plan, which allows people to browse the retail store while watching artisans create different pieces. Visitors will also be able to create custom jewelry of their own at a special station, which uses an online program to help users determine their preferences, select materials, and choose a price point. Within 10 days, a custom piece of jewelry will be delivered to their home. Visitors will also be able to purchase select pieces from the artisans and the collection.
However, this is just the beginning for the custom jewelry design museum: in the future, Kohl also plans to add a station where visitors will be able to create their own pieces with the machines on display. For now, however, people will simply have to watch artisans shape pieces before their very eyes.
The Museum of American Jewelry Design and Manufacturing can be found in a well-known Harrisonburg landmark called the Cassco Ice House. The showroom will be open 11 AM to 7 PM Monday through Saturday, while the workshop will be open 8 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday.