It may be the smallest town in Iowa with an independent book store downtown, and amazingly enough, The Bookworm in Bellevue is also among the top 12 out of 800 dealers in the world in terms of Dune Jewelry sales, according to owner Sheila Hargrave, who was recently notified of the achievement by the company.
“Besides books, it is the second biggest seller in our shop,” said Hargrave, who has owned and operated the BookWorm on Riverview for the past two decades. “It’s pretty amazing to be ranked up there with retailers in Australia and the Bahamas.”
Hargrave said the number one spot for Dune Jewelry sales is at a retailer in Sanibel, Florida, a city in southwest Florida on Sanibel Island, which is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
While the Florida retailer may have an ocean view, Bellevue has breathtaking views of Mississippi River, which may explain some of the success of Dune Jewelry, which was created by a nationally known sand artist Holly Daniels Christensen. In honor of the BookWorm’s selling success, she will be coming to town in person later this summer to visit the local bookstore, host a trunk show and greet customers.
Dune Jewelry is a special customized jewelry not found anywhere else. The most popular collection is handmade with sand and elements from favorite local and worldwide destinations, including a Wave Necklace hand inlaid with shells from Bellevue’s former Button Factory on south Riverview.
“People should know that this jewelry can be made with just about any element. And if there is a place you dream of going to or a favorite place you would like to capture in a piece of jewelry and you don't have the sand, Dune has a Sand Bank with elements from close to 4,000 locations and from seven continents,” said Hargrave. “It’s anywhere from dirt from baseball infields, from Salem Ma, Gettysburg and the Appalachian Trail to our own sand on the Mississippi River. They also have some stones, shells and flower petals too.”
At her Bellevue store, Hargrave has over 55 Dune Jewelry designs which include earrings, necklaces, bracelets, charms, wine-stoppers, ornaments and money clips.
“We have done several special orders with rings and watches. New designs are coming out pretty frequently including a new charm that I'm excited about. It is in the shape of a puzzle piece. It's design is meant to reflect the complexity of the Autism Spectrum and the diversity of people and families who are affected by Autism around the world,” said Hargrave, who noted that a portion of the proceeds go to the Surfers for Autism organization.
Dune Jewelry was founded in 2010 in Boston at Holly Daniels Christensens' kitchen table. Partner and founding member Lauren Behning (who was in Bellevue last year for a trunk show) joined her in the beginning at that kitchen table and learned how to make each and every single piece of jewelry by hand alongside Holly, who created and patented the process herself.
She said customers have sent infield dirt from their hometown ball fields, brick from the foundations of a family home, dried flower petals from wedding bouquets, even shells from the old Bellevue Button Factory.
“We came to realize that we weren't just making jewelry, we were capturing memories in tangible reminders of important moments in people's lives,” said Behning.