As you stroll along the Washington Street Mall, you can’t help but notice a large gold crown hanging above the entrance of a Victorian pewter gray building. Lush greenery spills from the window boxes. This is Queen May, a jewelry store with luxury merchandise. But don’t just peek through the bay front windows displaying showcases that sparkle like stars—venture inside. As the name suggests this store certainly holds what one would consider the “Queen’s Jewels.” The shop glistens, from the sparkling cases filled with diamond jewelry to the lighting overhead, bouncing rays of light onto the honed marble floor. Everything about this shop speaks “elegance.”
Amanda Adams and Dan Uffleman began their entrepreneurship in 2012. As recent college grads, they shared a vision of having their own business one day. They gravitated to Cape May after spending many “date nights” here and decided that it would be a perfect place to begin their adventure. Both are self-made, first-generation jewelers. After renting different shops, this location became available and in 2018 Dan and Amanda bought the building and started their dream. They have the business savvy and youthful vision that has made this business a continued success.
Scattered throughout the shop are gold framed mirrors—a massive antique cheval floor mirror and rococo gilded mirrors hang behind the showcases harboring emerald solitaire rings, gold chains, and pearl drop earrings. There are trendy vintage stick pins with pearls, diamonds, and rubies transformed into pendants hanging from 18 kt gold chains.
Dan and Amanda have a discerning eye, acquiring signed pieces made by Tiffany and Co., Van Cleef and Arpels, Bulgari, and more. There are Victorian, Georgian, Art Deco, and Mid-Century period pieces for sale. Although the price tags on one-of-a-kind items can be $10,000 or more, there are many affordable pieces to fit a budget under $1,000.
There’s a fine selection of sunglasses, vintage and new collector’s items perfect for a beach town. Behind the counter is a colorful array of vintage Chanel leather handbags. Another wall is designer silk scarves. The showcases brim with sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, some set in rings, others in bracelets and necklaces. An Art Nouveau piece caught my eye—a delicate yellow-gold necklace with six amethysts and drops of natural sea pearls with a price tag of $2,600. Nearby, there was a piece of hair jewelry that appeared as a work of art rather than typical mourning jewelry. It was a pin from the 1800s containing four tiny, braided pieces of blonde and brunette hair set behind glass. On the back of the pin is the mother’s dedication to her four sons.
The staff is knowledgeable, helpful, and patient with their clientele. It’s obvious that they enjoy working here. Everything on display is positioned with an interior decorator’s eye. If the first floor isn’t enough to keep your interest, then take an elevator to the second floor and see what surprises await. A sign, the “diamond lounge” further tempts you to visit the second floor. When you enter the elevator, an ornate gold embossed antique tri fold mirror greets you. The elevator ride is smooth and silent as though you are in Tiffany’s. Slowly I ascended, filled with anticipation. A wall of vintage leather designer handbags greeted me. The colors and workmanship will captivate any buyer. Behind the cases are various styles of Chanel purses—a dainty lavender heart-shaped bag with its distinctive interlocking double letter C logo in 24kt gold alloy, along with evening bags. There’s even a black Chanel leather backpack.
Many designer purses—Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Hermes to name a few—are accessible, complete with a full-length mirror to see if it’s a perfect fit for you. And don’t forget that whenever you buy a vintage purse, including vintage jewelry, your purchase is not only more affordable than new but sustainable to boot!
In a nook is a small bar with bottles of wine and several stools. Just what a buyer may need when deciding and finalizing the sale of the perfect diamond for his or her sweetheart. An appraiser’s desk is located on one side while opposite is a painted gray and gold desk with a wall of files containing jewelry certification documents.
One showcase is filled with heavy gold chains with hearts, a chunky gold chain with CHANEL in all caps, meant to impress, along with large 14 kt gold hearts encrusted with diamonds. Showcases of engagement rings contain carat upon carat of gorgeous diamond solitaires and diamond-encrusted wedding bands. For the fiancé, there’s a case of stately wedding bands, varying in carat weights in gold or platinum, or consider designing your own and mixing the precious metals. The choices are endless. All you need is a vision, and Dan and Amanda will make it happen.
Curated vintage jewelry, acquired in countries such as France and England, is available for purchase. Dan and Amanda travel the world to acquire curated vintage jewelry, but often the world comes to them. After making an appointment, the seller will meet with one of their buyers to discuss pieces for sale. Queen May will appraise honestly and if interested will offer a fair market value. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Art Deco and the elusive Art Nouveau are hot sellers. As soon as they receive such desirable pieces, interested buyers will surely snatch them up. Queen May has an online presence where many of their fine pieces are listed. Yet with a high turnover, especially around the holidays, I suspect the pieces won’t last long.
Queen May is located at 325 Washington Street Mall, corner of Jackson and Washington. Usually open year-round from 10am to 5pm, but it is best to call ahead for business hours. Phone: 609 854-4936.