Designing Woman: Alicia Winalski The Difference Behind Nyman Jewelers
by RONA MANN/photos by Stephanie Sittnick & still life in motions photography
Don’t think for one moment that this is your average jewelry store!
Sure you can buy a watch here, get a new battery for that watch, pick out your wedding rings, find a nice pin, earrings, or bracelet, even have quality repairs done professionally, but there’s a whole lot more behind Nyman Jewelers in Old Saybrook…and that difference lies beyond the front counter and is far from average. That difference is the woman who is most often found beyond that counter, hard at work at her bench in the back of the store.
To say that owner, Alicia Winalski is a talented jewelry designer is an understatement. Alicia Winalski is as much a treasure as the precious metals with which she works, engaging in the singular art of metamorphic design, a craft that elevates Nyman from being just an average jeweler, raising her to the class of artisan. A process whereby a jewelry designer takes the remnants of old or broken jewelry, melts them down, and creates stunning new pieces, metamorphic design is both an eclectic and exacting art. And that is precisely where Alicia Winalski shines.
From the moment you meet Winalski, everything about her persona shines through. Her smile is 1000 megawatts, and she looks each person squarely in the eye, as though from the first she is searching for that one bit of individuality that sets them apart. She then transfers those impressions into the work she performs, because when Alicia creates a piece of jewelry, she does it solely to reflect the individuality of her client and not her idea of how a piece should look. Here is an artisan who puts the greatest emphasis on individuality, both of her client, as well as the individualism that defines her own talent. She realizes that more than any other gift, jewelry is that special something that has to do with emotion; and through her art and great ability to listen between the lines and then translate those emotions to the pieces she creates, she has a responsibility not only to the client’s head, but to his heart.
Creating her one-of-a-kind-treasures for over 20 years, Winalski is a forward-thinking businesswoman as well as artist. Recently she added a small display of clothing to her shop because she felt it was a unique and yet necessary compliment to the jewelry. While many individuals complement their clothing with jewelry, Alicia has turned the process delightfully upside down with enviable results. There are women’s designer dresses, jackets, scarves, tunics, “and really cool palazzo pants,” Alicia laughs. Offering an effortless, yet polished look, palazzo pants are the comfortable way to entertain, go out to dinner, or enjoy a shopping trip to the city while still looking stylish and beautifully put together.
In addition to being unique, every item of clothing at Nyman’s has been made in the USA, a fact which pleases Winalski no end. “That’s very important to me.” It’s apparent that this woman is highly principled and does not waver even slightly when it comes to her beliefs and the way in which she chooses to run her business.
But it is the jewelry, recycled from 14 karat, 18 karat, 24 karat, and real sterling that is the heartbeat of this store and its owner/designer. Alicia urges visitors to “try on my jewelry! Don’t just eyeball it,” pointing out that a piece can look a certain way through the case, but when an individual tries it on, it takes on that customer’s persona and can make it really pop and stand out.
While Alicia Winalski is brimming over with ideas (“There are millions of things in my head”), she is quick to add, “But people can come in with their own ideas. I love that. I love when they can tell me what they want; and I can sketch it, and we can work together until we have a finished piece that is exactly what they envisioned.”
There’s literally nothing Winalski cannot create…from personally designed engagement and wedding rings to necklaces, bracelets, brooches, pins, rings, and now even chunky, fashionable belt buckles.
At the recent American Made Show in Washington, D.C., Winalski’s first time at a wholesale show, the quality and uniqueness of her work immediately garnered the attention of several shops around the country where her work is now displayed for sale. “What I’d really like to do someday is develop a complete wholesale line while still keeping the store here in Old Saybrook.”
Nyman Jewelers is still front and center very important to Alicia, who relishes being situated right in the heart of Old Saybrook and enjoys meeting the wide demographic that makes up her customer base. Being as far from a “mall jewelry store” as possible, the small town atmosphere allows everyone in the store to truly know their customers…not just their names, but also their likes and dislikes and just who they are. This then paves the way for a special kind of collaborative customer service that transcends the actual term; and like so many other shops in Old Saybrook, becomes the only way they know how to do business.
Ask Alicia Winalski about future plans, and you get that big, broad smile again. “Eventually I would like to teach. My store works for me because I do my art not just for myself, but for the people I am proud to call my customers.”
During the upcoming holidays, if you’re in or around Old Saybrook and want a watch battery or a nice traditional gift of jewelry, you won’t do much better than Nyman Jewelers. But if you look beyond the front counter into that open repair space, you will no doubt find the artist herself sitting at her bench, happily melting down precious metals and creating something wonderful. And then you’ll catch that signature smile and know this can only be Alicia Winalski, Old Saybrook’s “designing woman.”
Nyman Jewelers/Alicia Winalski Designs is located at 900 Boston Post Road, Rt. 1 in Old Saybrook