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MiVT: Raintree Jewelry

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 12:41 PM EDT
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SHELBURNE, Vt. (WCAX) - Shannon Mahoney and Mike Tope have long loved and worked in jewelry making.

“I started in Houston, Texas. There was a jeweler there that was looking for some help and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Tope said.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that fate brought them together. Fortunately for them, it was in St. Thomas.

“One of my oldest friends asked me to design a ring for him, so I designed the ring but then I needed someone to help me make it who had a bench at home,” recounted Mahoney. “A colleague introduced me to Motorcycle Mike. Pretty much the first time, the first time we ever sat down and talked together I was like, I’m in trouble!”

Now, the two co-own Raintree Jewelry, a small Church Street shop with big reach.

“We’re a national brand, we make all of our own jewelry. This is our flagship, we feel lucky to be able to live in a place like Burlington, Vermont, but then sell to lots of people all over the country,” Mahoney said.

Lots of their reach comes from their accolades, with two Spectrum awards for design and craftsmanship, and most recently, an award from Instore Magazine for being one of the “Coolest Jewelry Stores in America.”

Part of that is because of their stunning storefront. Though it’s also because of the eye-catching work this couple produces.

“We have kind of a unique feel and look to the pieces we make. They’re distinctive. People actually on Instagram always say, ‘I knew that was your piece as soon as we saw it,’” said Tope.

“Mike and I love working with very colorful gemstones and lots of color and lots of playful lines. But, everything is also exceptionally finished. So it’s really fun but it’s also very fine,” said Mahoney.

With a massive online presence, Mahoney says much of their customer base is out of Vermont, though they cater to customers far and near.

Everything is designed and built by hand in a studio space in Shelburne, either by Tope or their apprentices.

They’re currently working to expand their apprenticeship program. The plan is to create a four-year program where apprentices will be paid for their time and energy, and will learn the tricks of the trade from two jewelry masters.

“Most of the jewelry production these days has all gone to CAD production and computer-aided design. We don’t do any of that. We make everything old-school by hand,” Tope said.

It’s all meticulously crafted to bring a little sparkle to Shelburne, Church Street and beyond.

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