Spexton is garnering serious attention with simple but sophisticated fabricated metallic jewelry pieces that appeal to the desire for something unique, individualized and thoughtful.
When it comes to buying jewelry, most of us have come to believe there are only two ways to shop. Either you go to a chain store, browse the cases, and walk away with a piece that is pre-made in China or India. Or you check out an artists’ fair, where people often sell pieces they bought in vintage shops or made with supplies bought from stores. Either way, most jewelry isn’t customized or customizable, and it certainly isn’t made wholly in America.
Spexton at The Boxyard in Tulsa is changing all that.
And they’re doing it in a way that blends ingenuity with the hard-working, creative mindset of Tulsa’s young professionals. The jewelry-making materials — beads, clasps, bands, charms and more — are all made here in Tulsa. Items can be crafted to order when you walk into the store, giving you a shopping experience that is like nothing else you’ll come across in Green Country.
It all started in 2004, after Tulsan Nate McPherson returned to the area after living overseas, dropped out of college, and — believe it or not — co-founded a men’s underwear store with his now husband, Greg Shelton. What does underwear have to do with jewelry? Ask McPherson, and he’ll tell you a story fit for Fast Company or Shark Tank.
“Spexton has one of the most unusual back stories in the world,” McPherson says. “We opened our men’s underwear boutique in 2004, where Hodges Bend is now. Our landlord owned the whole block and had a machine shop behind our store. Greg would work there to make extra money and help pay the bills while I ran the store.”
After teaching himself the ins and outs of working with metal and using machines like the lathe, Shelton began making jewelry from the scrap metal left over at the end of his workday. McPherson then took the jewelry, designed to be a creative accompaniment to the boutique’s underwear, and sold it in their store. Soon, the demand for their handcrafted, locally made jewelry began to outpace their supply.
That’s when McPherson and Shelton had a brainstorm — jettison the underwear and just sell their U.S.-sourced, personally designed, handmade jewelry. Thus, Spexton was born. And it’s been an exciting ride ever since.
“Everything we’ve done has been out of necessity because we’ve got to eat,” says McPherson. “Whatever we sold was how we fed ourselves — to literally eat and pay the bills. Never would I have realized where I would have wound up. We found much more success over making and selling our own stuff.”
One of Spexton’s specialties is their hand-crafted, contemporary-style wedding rings, made from materials like titanium, black zirconium, stainless steel, cobalt, meteorite and wood. Every ring is fabricated on Spexton’s lathe by Shelton and his small team, ensuring buyers get an affordable, attractive piece of jewelry that was made personally for them, with loving attention to detail.
“I believe that of all the mass produced things in life you buy, your wedding band should not be one of them,” says McPherson. “We make you a custom wedding band that no one else has, custom fabricated specifically for you. Everyone should have access to handmade bands.”
Beyond wedding bands, Spexton produces bracelets, necklaces, and many other types of finely crafted, beautifully textured metallic jewelry. (Colorful, bright, feminine fashion versions of the jewelry can be found at their sister store, Landella, also located at The Boxyard.) They’ve even designed and patented a special magnetic jewelry clasp. “It is a screw-on-and-off clasp for leather that doesn’t have any glue,” says McPherson. “You can always change out the leather. It’s a unique product that is made in Tulsa.”
And Spexton does more than make the jewelry locally. They also source their materials in the U.S., which is extraordinarily rare among jewelers. “You actually can support local and buy American with us,” McPherson says.
“Many companies make products entirely in China and India. They don’t make them in the U.S.,” he explains. “We’re one of the only bead making and clasp making companies in the U.S. Our products are made out of brass [and other metals] from American foundries. It starts as a brass or steel rod, and we cut it at our machine shop, and make it into the finished piece right here in Tulsa. Everything we make, we make here in Tulsa.”
For those who want a wedding band with bling to it, you can always visit Spexton’s Cherry Street location, where the focus is on fine jewelry and gemstones. The store’s co-owner, Andy Marcum, is an expert in diamonds and gems. Custom designs are possible, in both contemporary and classic styles. In addition to wedding rings, the Cherry Street location also offers earrings, pendants, and bracelets set with diamonds, emeralds, amethysts and other precious stones. Whether you want a traditional halo or cluster style, a personalized initial, a romantic heart for special occasions or another style and look, Spexton Fine Jewelry can help.
One of Spexton’s most interesting offerings — and the area where they most resemble a startup that you’ll be wishing you got in on while you had the chance — is their customized design bar. Customers can’t get enough of it
“You choose a base for a bracelet, cuff, necklace, or another piece of jewelry,” McPherson says. “And then we have charms in raw form. You decide how you want the charms decorated. We make your piece for you while you wait. It’s very much like Chipotle and Salata, where you’re customizing and making your own thing. You can add texture, gems, and more. It’s really an experience.” It takes about 20 minutes, he says, and then you receive your finalized piece, custom made to your liking.
Spexton’s unique, creative approach to serving customers and making American jewelry fits perfectly into the innovative approach at The Boxyard, where shops are housed in recycled shipping containers, laid out in a horseshoe around a courtyard that invites hanging out with friends and enjoying a view of downtown Tulsa’s skyline.
“We’re excited about The Boxyard,” says McPherson. “It truly is the resurgence of Main Street America, with authentically, truly 100 percent locals. We’re really proud to be part of this premier spot. It’s such a unique experience. We’ve recreated the fun in shopping. And we’ve made it worth your while to shop down here, because it’s all about service. At the end of the day, we’re about serving the client and creating that special experience. We truly live, breathe, and eat that. That is who we are. I want my customers to be thrilled from beginning to end.”
The Boxyard | 502 E. 3rd St., Unit 10 | Tulsa
Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-5 p.m.
Spexton Fine Jewelry
1609 E. 15th St. | Tulsa
Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
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