Business In Bloom

Posted by amber broussard on


Business in Bloom 

by Lee Cutrone | October 31, 2006

Specializing in silver jewelry from all over the world, Sterling Silvia (41 French Market Place, 299-9229) has been a fixture at the historic French Market for 20 years. These days, more than ever, the business is a family affair. Silvia Asturias travels the world, creating original designs and handpicking pieces from such countries as Mexico, Thailand, Chile, Argentina, Italy, Indonesia and her native Guatemala. Her husband Juan runs the well-stocked store, and daughter Cristy contributes her own hand-produced line of silver and pearl jewelry.

The Asturias, who volunteered for a Red Cross unit stationed at Louis Armstrong International Airport just days after hurricane Katrina, have seen to it that their love of New Orleans is reflected in their merchandise and that their diverse inventory appeals to a wide variety of customers. Jewelry and home decor items with fleur de lis motifs are among their most popular sellers.

"After the hurricane, all the workers -- the policemen, the firemen, the people who came to help -- wanted fleur de lis," Juan says of the symbol that depicts a stylized, three-petal lily or iris. First associated with French royalty in the 14th century and long associated with New Orleans by way of its French heritage, New Orleanians and visitors have embraced the image as a way to commemorate the losses of Katrina and celebrate the city's renewal. The store's extensive array of fleur de lis -- also the symbol of the New Orleans Saints -- includes pendants, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, cufflinks, frames, plaques and pewter serving pieces. A portion of the proceeds from a fleur de lis "badge" designed by local jeweler Anne Dale goes toward hurricane recovery efforts.

Special savings offered throughout the year ensure customers that their dollars are being well spent on other items as well. Though silver prices rose sharply six years ago, the store offers regular sales on its stock, much of which can be viewed and purchased online at Through December, the entire supply of silver jewelry is 50 percent off, as the Asturias make room for new designs to be introduced in the coming months.

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