Swap a plane ticket to Indonesia for a trip to this Old City boutique.
One must wonder whether it was written in the stars for Philly–native Jeanne O’Karma to open an accessory store infused with Indonesian craft and tradition. The aptly named Buddhist concept of a current action causing later events applies at J.Karma: once you’ve made your first purchase, you’ll likely be back.
From just glancing in the storefront window, an Old City stroller would assume that the boutique was nothing different than the batch of surrounding accessory shops. Clunky Jeffrey Campbell and Sam Edelman shoes sit on vintage Edgar Allan Poe books, and Big Buddha hobo bags hang from pastel birdcages. Yes, the selection in the first room is wide–ranging, from an assortment of vegan handbags and satchels all under $100 to Clark’s Artisan shoes typically worn by women in their forties and fifties. But it’s not shoes and bags that make the trip across the river worth it.
After living in Bali for a number of years, O’Karma was so inspired by Indian culture and design that she decided to devote her professional career to bringing these styles into the American marketplace. Her mission began on South Street at a jewelry store called “Ethnics Jewelry,” and four years ago she fused the Ethnics collection with the work of a number of local designers in the second room of J.Karma.
On every wall hangs a jewelry case and in every case gleams imported sterling silver. Rings, pendants, bracelets and earrings incorporate stones of most thinkable shades, and prices rarely exceed $40. Woven Indonesian jewelry boxes, as well as bronze Buddha sculptures, serve as decorations, but they are also for sale.
Though most jewelry is from Indonesia, a rack of incenses boasts origins as remote as Indonesia and Tibet. In a bowl, colorful Brazilets pictured on Anne Hathaway in Elle radiate a Latin American vibe.
Between the ethnics exists the modern; at least half of the stock in the trinket room was not made across the globe, but rather by local designers who often exude international influence. Contemporary pieces fall mostly into the category of costume jewelry and include Marlyn Schiff’s large stone flower necklaces and Kelly Jones’ gold vintage keys hanging on chains.
Whether you’re searching for a skull ring that could be found in a foreign bazaar, a rhinestone frog pendant or just a pair of comfortable house shoes, this versatile shop has options. Even if you buy more than you planned, prices are low enough that your purchases won’t result in bad karma.
62 N. 3rd St.
What to look for: Eclectic shoes & accessories.
Bottom line: International pizzazz meets reasonable prices.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from its original version.