(Alexandria, VA) “I loved to collect rocks when I was a little girl,” recalls Elizabeth Mandros, owner of Mystique Jewelers of Old Town Alexandria. “And I still do!” Elizabeth is in the business – and has been for the last 20 years – of collecting rocks or rather finding and turning beautiful gemstones into one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces as well as bringing the collections of up-and-coming jewelry designers to her waterfront boutique. During this year’s celebration, Elizabeth reflects back on her 20 years in business
“To me, Mystique is not just a business,” offers Elizabeth. “It is a community. It is my family.” That extended family includes jewelry designers Ivan Naranjo with whom she has worked side by side for 14 years (and whose brother was Elizabeth’s mentor) and Alberto Parada, Mo in the parking lot, Charlotte across the way, and, of course, her longtime loyal customers. “It has been fun and an honor to have been a part of my clients’ many cherished moments. They’ve purchased their engagement rings and wedding bands here. Even proposed in the store! And then I’ve watched as they’ve raised families and marked life’s celebrations — graduations, birthdays, anniversaries and then the next generation’s weddings — with jewelry from Mystique.” Throughout this past year, Mystique customers have shared their memories – both in word and in picture — with Elizabeth in person and on Facebook.
Elizabeth grew up in Belle Haven, just down the road from where Mystique is located and where her parents still reside. When it came time to locate her new business in 1991, Old Town Alexandria was the only place she considered and has stayed put ever since. The store’s design reflects Elizabeth’s own warm personality and her approach to business. “It’s like a living room,” explains Elizabeth. “It makes people feel comfortable and welcome.” Elizabeth’s mother Anne Kincheloe Mandros adds her whimsical touch with rotating themes and her own unique shell designs (which are available for purchase).
Elizabeth has seen jewelry trends come and go and advises her clients to purchase what you love instead of the latest trends. “You’ll love it and wear it forever,” she adds. For that reason, Elizabeth chooses (and designs) well-crafted pieces to fit a more casual lifestyle. “Not fancy, but beautiful, classic pieces that you can wear with jeans or dressed up equally well.” In addition to their own custom designs, Mystique carries the collections of jewelry designers Lauren K, Alberto Parada, Katie Decker, Lika Behar and Jude Frances. Elizabeth also specializes in turning people’s old jewelry into something new. It may be as simple as making a pearl necklace more wearable, perhaps with a new clasp. Or creating an entirely new piece from unworn gold jewelry. Elizabeth’s sense of styling and creativity bring her customers back again and again. Like any business, Mystique has had its share of ups and downs in its 20 years. There was the fire that delayed its opening. There has been the ongoing economic downturn. Through it all, Mystique has succeeded because of its attention to the basic building blocks: quality product and excellent customer service.
About Mystique Jewelers
Mystique is celebrating its 20th year of making memories. Elizabeth Mandros opened Mystique in 1991 with the idea of bringing unique and sophisticated fine jewelry to Old Town, Alexandria, not found elsewhere. Elizabeth has traveled the world to hand select pieces for her boutique, including such highly coveted designer lines of Jude Frances, Lauren K, Erica Courtney, Alberto Parada and Beverly K. In addition to its fine designer jewelry, Mystique’s on-premise master goldsmith and jewelry designers can create a one-of-a-kind custom design which is heirloom quality, timeless and classic in design. Mystique was named Best of Old World Style by The Washingtonian. www.mystiquejewelers.com.