Swollen fingers can be tricky to adorn. Jewelry designer Kelly Torres, co-owner of Isabella's (3331 Severn Ave., Metairie, 779-3202; 1901 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, 304-4861; www.isabellasgallery.com), learned that firsthand. While pregnant with her first-born, Torres decided to tackle this problem one crystal at a time. The former sales and marketing professional created the stretch ring, a sterling silver, Swarovski crystal-encrusted ring that stretches to accommodate sizes five through nine. Nine years later, the stretch ring is flying off the shelves like counter candy.
Named after Torres' daughter, the Metairie boutique opened in July 2008 and features more than 50 collections by craftspeople who make jewelry, art-glass and other handicrafts that bridge the gap between architecture and art.
"I just have a passion for beautiful things that are well made and make people happy," Torres says.
Isabella's gallery of hand-crafted gifts also includes Vera Bradley quilted cotton handbags, luggage and accessories; Trollbeads charm bracelets and necklaces; and Sticks custom-made, hand-embroidered furniture.
In addition to co-owning the shop with her husband, Torres helps customers personalize their Sticks furniture. Made from birch, poplar or driftwood, the furniture is embellished with personal themes, colors and fabrics. She recently helped a customer custom-design a dining room table that features a culinary tableau familiar to most New Orleanians: crawfish, jambalaya and red beans and rice.
In addition to custom pieces, Isabella's has affordable original works of art. Handmade earrings start at $18. Ceramic tiles engraved with sentimental sayings begin at $12 and glass plates, which double as wall art, are available for less than $100.
"You can have unique things that are special and stand out, and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money," Torres says.