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Gem Theory: Why You Should Be Jewelry Shopping at HMNS This Summer

Why shop at a museum? Exclusive brands, local trunk shows and that sweet membership discount.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen July 17, 2015

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Alexis Bittar's carved lucite jewelry, on display in the Houston Museum of Natural Science Shop.

Image: Sarah Rufca

The 7,000 square feet that comprise the Houston Museum of Natural Science Shop are filled with a lot of the things you'd expect. There are raw geodes, cut into bookends and coasters. There are wine glasses that spell out "tipsy" in letters from the periodic table. There are backpacks designed to turn any kid into a dinosaur. But there are also cases and cases of designer and costume jewelry, much of which can't be found anywhere else in town. 

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Rebecca Lankford's exclusive collection for HMNS

Image: Sarah Rufca

For the final three Fridays in July, HMNS is spotlighting its commitment to Houston jewelry designers with a trio of local trunk shows. The first is Rebecca Lankford, who is in store today (July 17), and whose work is so popular that the museum has commissioned her to make exclusive pieces for their collection with gems hand-picked by HMNS buyer Jennifer King. On Friday, July 24, Mariquita Masterson's arty glass jewelry collection will be featured, and the series will culminate with intricate wire-wrapped gemstone jewelry by Mirta Tummino.

During the trunk shows, the featured designer's works will be 20 percent off. Combine that with a HMNS membership discount of 10 to 20 percent and you're looking at some sparkling steals. 

King has also been bringing in a mix of established and undiscovered designers from both near and far. Famous names like Alexis Bittar and Eddie Borgo are represented, although the selections from the former's new collection focus on Bittar's technologically fascinating use of painted lucite in his jewelry, creating pieces that seem to glow from within. 

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Gina Melosi's edgy jewelry is modeled after pieces of broken glass.

Image: Sarah Rufca

Elsewhere, the HMNS is the first shop in Texas to offer the strange-but-cool animal mask inspired wares of Dallas line F. is for Frank as well as the rough, avant garde works of London-based Gina Melosi, who fashions her pieces after bits of broken glass. History buffs will dig the line from SoCal's Ax + Apple, which incorporates vintage coins into earrings and bracelets, while fashion plates may be drawn to the colorful yet understated geometric wares of Portland's Betsy & Iya, the neon excesses of MAWI London's costume jewels or the bold, perfectly on-trend pieces by former J.Crew accessories designer Lele Sadoughi

Taken together, it's one of the most interesting jewelry collections in the city—you might even forget there's a museum attached.

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