Culture vultures already know that Sarasota is a must-do. But it’s perhaps less common to make a trek to Sarasota just to shop. And that’s a shame, because a recent jaunt to the charming Main Street and St. Armands Circle shopping districts revealed a plethora of mercantile destinations that were not only unusual but also imbued with a sense of family — the perfect ambience for holiday shopping.
Throughout the coming holiday shopping days, we’ll be highlighting the shops we visited. Earlier this month, we wrote about the amazing creations of jeweler Todd Alan. Earlier this week, we reported on Dream Weaver Collection and Art Uptown Gallery, destinations (respectively) for unique women’s clothing and talented local artists. Today, we’re delving into…
Tilden Ross Jewelers
The Ross family has been in the jewelry business for more than six decades, ever since patriarch Irving Ross opened a store in NYC in 1947 and won a bid to reformat military watches for civilian use. The company expanded into the worldwide luxury market over the years, and in 1985 Irving’s son, Richard Ross, and his wife, Gail, moved operations to Sarasota.
And that’s where you’ll find Tilden Ross now, in a sunlit space on St. Armands Circle. Staffers Mary Phillips and Lee Gerletti, both former jewelry store owners themselves, bring a wealth of knowledge to the quietly amazing inventory.
It’s not often you go to a shop and leave it thinking, “Wow, I learned something in there.” But that was my experience here. Take, for instance, the whimsically detailed, brilliantly hued Frogman sculptures by British artist Tim Cotterill (Tilden Ross is the only gallery on Florida’s Gulf Coast authorized to sell them). I’d always thought they were made of blown glass, but Lee explained that they are bronzes, hand-sculpted and colored in serialized, limited editions.
And Mary introduced me to a precious stone I’d never heard of before: the brilliant teal-colored Paraiba tourmaline, discovered in Brazil in the late 1980s. She showed me an example of the stones in a necklace whose links were tiny, hand-tooled gold faces. Stunning, and I suspect entirely worth the $19,375 price tag.
PS: If you go, ask Mary to explain why she thinks the Paraiba showed up in Brazil. And ask Lee to describe the spectacular arrival of Tim Cotterill at a trunk show in 2009 (it involved a metallic green Nehru suit and a motorcycle).
Tilden Ross Jewelers, 410 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota,941-388-3338, tildenrossjewelers.com