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By Sharon Gittleman
ROYAL OAK – A new Royal Oak jewelry store has brought a fresh design concept to Michigan. Charlotte, opened just two weeks ago, promises customers a lifetime guarantee of high style.
“We sell interchangeable modular jewelry,” said Lois Wekenmann, who owns Charlotte with her husband, Joachim.
Every ring is created by the purchaser, who attaches a jewel or other design element to a band. You can pop off that same jewel and connect it to an earring or necklace base. Several lines of rings, necklaces and earrings are made from layers of jewels and precious materials you can mix and match to produce your own creation.
Owners say the concept was invented to satisfy the women in the Swedish royal family. Modular jewelry allowed them to remove the centerpieces from their tiaras and wear them as pins or necklaces.
“You can create your own look everyday, if you want to,” said Wekenmann. “The whole company is based on personal stories. You express your mood, style and feeling. It’s all about you.”
Charlotte is a franchise store, with its headquarters in Germany and 100 sales locations throughout the world, including cities in Switzerland, Greece, Hong Kong and Singapore. There are only four stores in the U.S., including the Royal Oak shop – the first to arrive in Michigan. Charlotte opened its doors just two weeks ago in the metro-Detroit suburb.
“We looked at the mall scene. We think they are boring,” said Wekenmann. “We feel the jewelry will be better suited in Royal Oak. Royal Oak has the personality and our jewelry has the personality, so we think we’d be a better match.”
Charlotte brings European high style to the U.S.
“All the craftsmanship and goldsmiths are in Germany,” she said.
Sterling silver, platinum, gold, diamonds, ebony wood, meteorites, peridot, rubies, cultured pearls and other fine gems are used to create layered jeweled flowers, hearts, creatures, middle-eastern style scrolls and hearts. You can even buy a wedding vest with pearl-centered blooms set among a flexible mesh that looks like Queen Anne’s Lace.
“The designer, Wolf Peter Schwarz is a fourth generation Master Goldsmith,” said Wekenmann. “The jewelry we sell has a lifetime guarantee for materials and craftsmanship.”
One Charlotte customer walked into the store after an extended visit to the casinos.
“He said do you have an ‘I’m sorry’ gift?” said Wekenmann. “He bought a bracelet and earrings – beautiful pieces. Two weeks ago he said he had to buy her a Cadillac.”
You won’t have to spend thousands of dollars at Charlotte to say you’re sorry – though of course, you could. Prices start at just under $50.
Charlotte is located at 220 W Fourth Street in Royal Oak. You can call them at 248-586-9990.
Hours: Monday by appointment only, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Noon to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.