Family owned and operated since 1914, Smyth Jewelers lavishes customers with expertly cut gems and attentive service. Fill Valentine's present voids with designer necklaces ($32.50 and up), adorn lonely lobes with earrings ($28 and up), or add panache to foosball matches with sparkling rings ($50 and up). The caring staff will not force shoppers into splurging on baubles, but rather will introduce them to pieces that fit their needs in design and price. Smyth also purveys gifts such as silver platters, wine coasters, crystal decanters, and decorative bowls to fill with fruits, pocket change, or collector edition condiment packets. Perusers of higher-end items may fuse two Groupons to put towards purchases over $300, selecting from shinables such as the 18-karat diamond stud earrings clasped in white gold ($340). Smyth's six certified gemologists ward off showy intruders, admitting only GIA or AGS approved gems with the most refined facets and credible qualities.
Somewhere among the rows of illuminated display cases that flaunt Oakley, Ray-Ban, and Arnette shades, a furry snout pokes out, sniffs twice, and returns to its brightly colored chew toy. The snout belongs to the official mascot at Shades of the Bay: Allie, a 13-year-old beagle who spends her days nuzzling visitors and frolicking amid shelves piled high with sunglasses and Reef flip-flops. Across the street lies Shades of the Bay’s sister store—Shades Unlimited—which also boasts a large collection of sunglasses from top designers, both polarized and nonpolarized. At either location, a knowledgeable staff helps lead customers to shades that flatter faces or transform sock puppets into trendy companions.
The staff at Monica Jewelers’ locations in Columbia and Annapolis guides clients through a selection of thousands of pieces, helping them to find the ideal wedding rings, anniversary gifts, and accessories. Their watches include those from Citizen, Bulova, and La Vie, and their stock of gold necklaces save wearers the trouble of growing their own gold. The jewelers also sell a vast selection of earrings, bracelets, chains, and colored gems.
The brand American Apparel, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, conjures up images of stylish and well-fitting fashion basics. It also likely brings to mind sassy advertisements featuring long-haired beauties in natural makeup posing in skin-bearing bodysuits and loungewear.
But what many don't know about the brand—despite its name and the slice of apple pie that comes with every purchase—is that all of its clothes are made in America. Everything from sewing and cutting to accounting and marketing happens in one building in downtown Los Angeles, and the rest occurs within a 30-mile radius. Not only that, every slim-fitting pair of pants, spandex bodysuit, and v-neck T-shirt is made in a sweatshop-free environment.
Plus, keeping everything in house means the company eliminates unnecessary and wasteful factors, such as shipping fuel and packing materials, as well as provides jobs to Angelenos, instead of outsourcing them.