MONTAUK, NY – A new year-round business in Montauk has been started by a couple who believe in the magic of romance.
Chris Simunek and his wife Rebekah Harris own The Shipwreck Jewelry and Trading Company and in recent months have been offering jewelry making classes to locals and visitors. Both said they were surprised at the positive response they received.
“It’s a great activity for friends, couples, or kids over 10,” Simunek said. And, just in time for Valentine’s Day, the boutique not only offers jewelry and gifts, but also special jewelry workshops for couples; two hours is $150, and the lovebirds can design a pair of silver rings to match.
The shop, which debuted Memorial Day weekend in 2019, is open year-round; most of the store’s inventory is made on-site and much has a nautical theme.
“Montauk has been rocking us for a long time,” Harris said. “We first came here together in the winter of 2003 and started coming as often as we could. In 2008 we got married here and a few years later we bought a house. Then we had a dog and really started spending time hiking in the woods in the winter here with him.It was getting harder and harder to get back to town so we brought our things from town here.
Valentine’s Day is a busy day for florists — and jewelers, Harris said. “Usually we do special things to make each other’s Valentine’s Day the best it can be. Of all the holidays, it’s such a sweet day, a day to celebrate love. celebrate best, making little cards for everything the people you care about, not just one.”
Valentine’s Day has always had a special meaning, Harris said. “Several years ago in town, when we were selling with the Catbird store, we hired our bike courier friend to dress up as Cupid and cycle around town to deliver the Valentine’s Day jewelry. C was by far the best Valentine’s Day ever,” she said.
The couple, Harris said, had a workshop in New York called Shipwreck, and that’s where the idea for couples workshops was born.
“It was upstairs and we started doing workshops there to bring people in,” she said. After the first class, she was struck by “how people have changed working with and creating something with their hands. We continued to develop the classes and brought this idea to our shop in Montauk. Winters here can be long and lonely and it was important for us to create something for the community to do in the winter. For Valentine’s Day I thought it would be fun to have a marathon type day where the people come and go and make rings together all day – then go out for dinners or romantic walks.”
In Montauk, the couple found their inspiration, they accepted.
Harris got her start, she said, as an apprentice to a Gothic silversmith, Alex Streeter. “He made the jewelry for the movie Angel Heart. Reproductions of that jewelry have sold very well for almost 40 years. I’ve learned that the most valuable thing you can use in jewelry, more valuable than the “gold or diamonds, is the belief. Water and the ocean has always had my heart, so all of our jewelry is inspired by the ocean and its traditions. Naturally, Montauk and other passing water lovers time here seem to enjoy working here more.
Of their own romance, Harris said, “If you’ve been married for a while, it’s important to always learn and grow together in new directions…like goldsmithing.”
The Shipwreck Jewelry and Trading Co. is located at 57 Flamingo Ave in Montauk. For more information, call 631-238-5331.