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Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor

Shopping the Parks

Jewel of Orleans at Disneyland

July 13, 2001

Everyone knows that a Disney vacation can be tough on the wallet. You have to buy tickets, food, souvenirs, not to mention diamond and emerald earrings ... ? In the small corner space that once housed the perfume shop in Disneyland's New Orleans Square stands the Jewel of Orleans, a unique store specializing in estate jewelry. Many women I know simply refer to the shop as "the sparkly store," while their husbands simply cringe whenever their wives set foot inside.

After Disneyland closed the perfume shop in 1996, the merchants took a trip to the real New Orleans. They were hoping to find an estate jewelry store that would be interested in opening a shop in the empty space at Disneyland. Unable to locate a suitable partner in Louisiana, they approached Diannes Estate Jewelry, LLC, a San Francisco shop that had previously impressed one of the Disney executives.

The Jewel of Orleans sign still shows it's perfume shop origins
The Jewel of Orleans sign still shows it's perfume shop origins

Alex Jacobs, and his parents and partners Dianne and Charles, were invited to visit Disneyland and discuss the proposed venture. It was the first time any of the Jacobs had been to Disneyland, and they were impressed with the cleanliness of the park and its high standards. An agreement was soon reached, and the Jewel of Orleans opened in 1997.

Charles and Dianne are most often found at the San Francisco location, while Alex manages the Disneyland store. All three act as buyers, scouting estate sales and auctions to find pieces to bring back to the two stores. Most days, you can find Alex behind the counter of the store, greeting guests and polishing the displays. MousePlanet staff members have made purchases at Jewel of Orleans, and found the store staff to be knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. Alex can give you the complete background on any piece in the store, and all of the staff really knows their stuff.

Hide your wallet
Hide your wallet

In the shop's windows, lace curtains and period antiques serve as a backdrop for displays that provides a teaser to just some of the unusual pieces offered inside. An opera bag, made from thousands of tiny hand- soldered links of multicolored gold, twinkles in the sunlight. A detailed gold bangle, inset with a smooth cabochon-cut amethyst, draws admiring glances from passers-by.

The interior of the store has retained the painted glass mirrors and decorative molding from the perfume shop. Cases along the back wall house a collection of necklaces, pocket watches, and an assortment of curios and props. A tile floor and decorative chandelier complete the elegant decor.

Just a hint of what awaits you inside
Just a hint of what awaits you inside

Of course, this is all just window dressing to the real stars of the show—the jewels. However as with many photo-shy jewelry stores, we can only describe in words what unusual pieces you may find at the Jewel of Orleans; to enjoy their beauty you must visit in person.

The pieces in the store run the historical gamut from the reign of Queen Victoria to modern times. You can find several pieces of antique Victorian jewelry, notable for the use of cameos, colored stones, and seed pearls. Wide, ornamented, gold bracelets in velvet boxes lure you into the store from the side windows. One particularly striking ring features a large, mine-cut diamond in a gold mounting.

The opera bag in the window is just one of the several such purses the store carries. The dozens of pins and brooches on display always intrigue me, and a lovely opal stone, worked into a design with a graceful crane, is one of my favorites. The store currently has a stunning diamond pin that can also be worn as a pendant.

Curios and bric-a-brac amid cases of sparkling jewels.
Curios and bric-a-brac amid cases of sparkling jewels

The store has a beautiful assortment of Edwardian rings and pendants, prized for their lacy filigree designs and innovative mountings. The early 1900s pieces showcase the skill in platinum work, taking advantage of the metal's strength to mount stones in seemingly invisible settings. During the two world wars, platinum was generally reserved for military use, and wartime jewelers turned again to silver and white gold. Platinum did not make a major reappearance in jewelry until the 1980s.

My personal taste runs to the art deco, and retro pieces. An unusual ring recently caught my eye, which upon closer inspection, was matte gold ring cast in the image of a pharaoh, clutching a diamond- capped staff to his chest. Pieces in 1920s art deco styles of distinctive geometric lines, are scattered throughout the store. You can also find retro pieces from the late '30s and '40s, featuring rose and white gold, as well as colored stones like rubies and sapphires.

Decorative ceiling moldings and crystal chandelier
Decorative ceiling moldings and crystal chandelier

One wall display is filled with watches and rings for men. Last year, the store offered a 1950s Hamilton Ventura watch, the world's first commercially available electric watch. If the name doesn't ring a bell, it was the watch worn by Elvis in his 1961 movie "Blue Hawaii." A modern version of the same style later gained international exposure-and near- cult status - when it was featured in the movie "Men in Black." Pocket watches are a popular collectible item, and the store offers a small selection at Disneyland, with a larger collection just a phone call away through its San Francisco location.

Alex prefers to stock the store with authentic vintage pieces, but says that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find high- quality antique jewelry. The store works with skilled artists to create replica pieces, and to remount vintage stones into new settings. Alex can also look for pieces upon request, often retrieving merchandise from the larger San Francisco store to provide customers with a better selection from which to choose.

The mirrors were painstakingly painted backwards (highlights first, full colors afterwards) then silvered  - so you can look through the glass to the artwork
The mirrors were painstakingly painted backwards (highlights first, full colors afterwards) then silvered - so you can look through the glass to the artwork

The store's customers are mostly local guests, annual passholders, and Disney cast members (CMs), with a smattering of tourists. Alex notes that many foreign tourists prefer to shop for name brand modern items, and that the exchange rate can be discouraging for visitors from Canada and Australia. Unlike many jewelry stores - both estate and contemporary - Jewel of Orleans does not artificially inflate price tags in order to offer "sale" prices. There is no haggling here: the price on each item is the price you pay. Alex does admit that this puts off some guests who expect to be able to negotiate for a lower price. The store also offers no- interest layaway, which is an affordable method of financing a large purchase.

Lots to look at
Lots to look at

MousePlanet columnist Adrienne Krock comments positively about her experience:

I am not a jewelry person. I am far too practical to spend a lot of money on jewelry, and I usually only wear my wedding and engagement rings...

Then it happened.

My girlfriends took me into the "sparkly store." Although I was still a little too frugal and practical to make a purchase, I enjoyed looking and thinking, "When I win the lottery..."

For many months I admired one particular ring: a gold ring with a solitaire sapphire in a platinum setting. It looked like the long- lost cousin of my engagement ring. Sapphire is not only my birthstone, but is also my first son's birthstone. As I would ask to see that same ring over and over again, one friendly cast member would tease me: "Carats are good for your eyesight, you know." As our fifth wedding anniversary approached, my husband finally decided that enough was enough; he was going to buy me that ring!

For us, the best payment option was layaway. We put down 10% and then paid 1/12 of the balance each month. If I had changed my mind, the "sparkly store" would keep my payments and allow me to apply them to another piece in the store. Of course by the time Kevin and I decided to buy that ring, I was not turning back!

After my 11th payment, a cast member took my ring measurement and sent the ring out to be properly sized. When I made my final payment, I put my ring on my right ring finger and happily walked out the store with it. The store staff presented me with a lovely ring box and bag to take home with me. As an added bonus, the appraised value of my ring is a bit higher than the price they charged!

There are several online sources where you can learn about the finer points of buying estate jewelry and its industry lingo, as well as see examples of each period. AntiquesWorld.com has an easy- to- understand glossary of the most common estate jewelry terms, while About.com has a collection of articles and guides to help you learn the ropes of estate jewelry collecting. Once you have learned a bit about estate jewelry, you can visit the Jewel of Orleans and admire its collection in person with newfound appreciation.


As promised at the beginning of this article:

The DISNEYLAND RESORT invites you to set sail on a tour of Disneyland Park in celebration of the 46th Anniversary: July 15 - 29, 2001

The invitation to the event  - Promo art  Disney
The invitation to the event - Promo art Disney

To celebrate the 46th Anniversary of Disneyland, the park is hosting a new Map Hunt through the park. Like the 44th Anniversary "Conquer the Mountains" promotion, and the 45th Anniversary "Walk in Walt's Disneyland" event, this year's challenge will have guests wandering the park to obtain stamps on a commemorative map.

Your first stop will be Disney Showcase, the Disneyana Shop, Autopia Winners Circle, Fantasy Faire, Bonanza Outfitters, Tropical Imports, Pieces of Eight or The Disney Gallery to buy your tour map. Then you will travel to five locations throughout the Park and receive a stamp on the tour map. The stamp locations in the park will be open from park opening to park closing. When the participants have received all five (5) stamps, they will go to one of three redemption locations, Disney Showcase, Disneyana or The Disney Gallery, to receive their commemorative anniversary pin.

Seven pins will be available for purchase  - Promo art  Disney
Seven pins will be available for purchase-Promo art Disney

There will also be seven limited- edition sailing pins available for purchase at the redemption locations. The pins will feature Storybook Land, Peter Pan's Flight, "it's a small world", Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Mark Twain and the Columbia. There is a limit of one pin, per style, per map purchase.

Annual Passholders who complete the quest between July 15th and July 22nd will receive a second, AP-exclusive pin in addition to the event pin. The summer NFFC convention will be taking place during this event. As a special bonus for NFFC members, the first 1000 members that visit a selected, (and still undetermined), location will receive a commemorative event button when they present their valid NFFC Membership I.D.

Visitors who participated in last year's event may recall that the park sold completely out of maps, even before the actual anniversary. At the first Disneyland Pin Workshop, Martha Blanding from the Merchandise Special Events office assured collectors that there would be plenty of maps and pins available for the entire event.


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Adrienne here.

Shopping the Parks

ADDITIONAL INFO

Dianne's Estate Jeweler, LLC
Jewel of Orleans
P.O. Box 84585
Anaheim, CA 92812
(714) 956-3294
11:30 a.m. through 8:30 p.m., 7 days a week

If you are in the San Francisco area and want to see where it all began, visit:
Dianne's Old and New Estate Jewelry
Union StreetFrancisco, CA 94123
(415) 346-7525
Store Hours: Call ahead


ABOUT THE EDITOR

Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.

In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.

If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.

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