Jewelers Row | Varyer

Jewelers Row

An uncut tour of Chicago's iconic gem-filled district

The Jewelers Row District of Chicago consists of 2 blocks along South Wabash Avenue, between Washington to the north and Monroe to the south. The district contains an array of industry businesses: from loose diamond sales to custom pieces designed from scratch. Some of the businesses are open to the public and some are available only to wholesale clients and designers. Precious and deeply embedded in the city, the district itself is an actual treasure.

The manufacturing crew at A&A

With its 21 floors stacked with incredible artisans from around the world, the Mallers Building at 5 South Wabash is particularly special. While the inventory behind these walls is precious, the people within these floors bring the real value, especially considering the current crossroads between design and manufacturing. For better or worse, technology is changing many of our professions and we are collectively trying to determine whether or not AI will replace our jobs. It’s likely that some components of jewelry making will be, but there is nothing like a hand-fabricated piece of jewelry. From the rigorous design process, carving wax by hand, to the final stages of finishing—polishing and stone setting—handcrafting jewelry is truly a labor of love. Taken on a Sony RX100 VI, these snapshots are a behind-the-scenes look at the people, spaces, and tools that fuel that labor in the Mallers Building of Jewelers Row.

Jamie Perez, master wax carver

Hand-carved wax

Finished casting

Emily and Ilya of Ilya Fine Jewelry

Entirely hand-fabricated necklace and pendant

Stone selecting at Misfit Diamonds

Richard and Mark, master engravers and fabricators

Hand-engraved gun cylinder by Richard

Mark measuring an impressive bounty of 14k gold

The Miller brothers, oldest to youngest from left to right, 4 years between each of them

Barb and Jordan of RG Diamonds

Barb’s book of inspiration


Lapidarist, Michael and his giant dinosaur fossil