New York State In-depth

The owners’ unique talents collide to fashion gemstones into jewelry at Common Ground Jewelry in Greenport

At Common Ground Jewelry in Greenport, the store’s co-owners Alexa Suess and Susan Pridham are used to being called rock stars. Her unique talents and skills in turning gemstones into rings, necklaces, pins, bracelets and other wearable, handcrafted works of art make her feel part of the territory at her welcoming Front Street shop.

“We specialize in unusual stones, recycled materials and alternatives to traditional fine jewelry,” says Suess, a Greenport-based gemologist and goldsmith. “We also carry some collector quality crystal and mineral samples. We approach everything we do with wonder and curiosity.”

The couple became business partners in 2017 when Pridham was considering a move from Blue Ruth, a sole proprietorship she ran in the city for seven years.

According to Pridham, a jewelry maker and designer with over three decades of experience who lives in Ridge, the name Common Ground represents their shared wonder and curiosity about the natural world. “We both love stones,” she says. “We both love the outdoors.” In mid-January, they close shop for a month to scout for materials at the Tucson Gem Show in Arizona.

“I am 61. There are 33 years between us. I’m very bohemian. Alexa’s work is very good,” says Pridham, who often works in silver.

Suess agrees, saying, “Susan and I are very opposite people, and we joke about it all the time. But our styles go really well together.”

A peek into the showcases reveals strikingly bold and delicate pieces across a wide range of prices. Tiny onyx towers sell for around $28, Pridham’s sterling tarot pendant necklaces sell for $88, while a 14-carat diamond ring by Suess, featured in Vogue, recently fetched $5,400 was sold. In rare cases, commissions are accepted.

Customers in the store tend to have something in common.

“When people come to us, it usually has something to do with a change in their lives – a new job, a promotion, a doctorate,” says Suess. “The ability to be with people at these important times in their lives is very special to us.”

Common Ground Jewelry is located at 29 Front St. in Greenport. The opening hours of the winter shop are from Thursday to Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.;

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