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Definitive Designs 

In 1975, when brothers Tom and Richard Mathis opened Symmetry (8138 Hampson St., 861-9925; www.symmetry-jewelers.com), they were among the first gallery owners in the country to feature jewelry as an art form and represent a roster of local, national and international jewelry designers including Tom himself. Today, Symmetry still stands out as a leader and innovator in the industry.

Having built a solid reputation as a full-service jewelry store specializing in custom wedding and engagement designs, the Riverbend showroom and studio is a popular destination for brides and grooms from across the country.

"Even if we didn't do any other business, we'd stay in business just doing the wedding and engagement pieces," says Richard, who works with clients to flesh out and fine tune their ideas. A designer and craftsman for more than three decades, Tom sketches each piece and produces a three-dimensional computer image, from which a plastic model and then a rubber mold are made off site. After the design is cast in precious metal and constructed, Tom hand-engraves it. "There aren't many hand engravers left in the business," he says.

Over the years, Tom's innate talent and carefully honed expertise has resulted in what locals readily recognize as the "Symmetry look." While the store offers a complete range of services -- jewelry repairs and restoration, an extensive collection of gemstones, fresh water and cultured pearl items, metal and gemstone works by a variety of artists, select consignment pieces, remounting, estate jewelry and original, custom creations -- it is best known for its diamond rings in delicate filigree settings that have the antique, pedigreed look of fine, family heirlooms.

Since Katrina, Symmetry's jewelers also have taken on a steady flow of restoration work, removing what they call the "Katrina patina" from all kinds of jewelry. And with more space and inventory than ever before -- including a new collection of Tom's wedding designs -- business is brisk.

"A lot of people realize how fragile life is after the hurricane," says Richard. "A one-of-a-kind handmade engagement ring or wedding band makes the unique occasion even more special."

click to enlarge A deep blue sapphire ring in platinum with diamond - accents from Symmetry.
  • A deep blue sapphire ring in platinum with diamond accents from Symmetry.
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