A new shop specializing in beading, gems and other jewelry making materials is hoping to serve as a local hotspot for Burke and Northern Virginia residents who have an interest in crafts.
“There are very few bead stores in Northern Virginia that carry the variety of gems used by and sought after by crafters,” said Olya Yampolsky, owner of Burke Gems and Beads.
Burke Gems and Beads quietly opened at 9415-A Old Burke Lake Rd on Nov. 1, 2012 without a grand opening, but Yampolsky said the store has been warmly received by community and called the positive response encouraging.
“We’ve only been promoting the store through word of mouth and fliers because I’m trying to save money, but it’s been great,” said Yampolsky, who immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union 24 years ago and has lived in Burke for the last nine years.
A former accountant, Yampolsky started crafting about five years ago as a hobby after noticing her pearl necklace needed repairing. Rather than pay someone to fix it, Yampolsky researched how to repair the necklace and fixed it on her own. She began fixing jewelry for her coworkers and later created and sold her own jewelry. A friend suggested she start her own business and Yampolsky’s idea for the business became what is now Burke Gems and Beads.
Her goal is for Burke Gems and Beads to be the top local go-to store for crafters who are in need of quality beads and gems for their work.
Yampolsky co-owns the store with her husband, Michael, and manages the daily operations of the store with one employee. Another employee manages the store's Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. She has two partners who help her stock the store with its inventory, which includes beads from Tibet, sterling silver from Poland, and agate pendant stones which Yampolsky custom orders paired with sterling silver. She is also a member of the Northern Virginia Bead Society.
According to Yampolsky, the selection of materials and the reasonable cost of the items separate Burke Gems and Beads from other stores in Fairfax County. Customers can make the jewelry in store as they shop and Yampolsky also accepts jewelry orders from customers. Some jewelry created by Yampolsky and her partners is available for purchase.
The store offers discounts for active military since both Yampolsky’s husband and her son have connections to the military.
“My son attended West Point. I want to show my support for my military in some way,” said Yampolsky.
Yampolsky also envisions the store as a community-gathering spot where crafters of all ages and levels can create what they want or learn how to make jewelry. Starting this month, the store will offer classes to teach those interested in beading. The first class is on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 11:30 a.m. Local artisans from Burke, Annandale, and even some as far as Richmond will teach the classes.
Yampolsky hopes the classes give both the store and the artisans some additional exposure while giving the artisans a place to showcase their talents. The classroom is also available for community groups who want to use the room to work or host parties or crafting events.
In the future, Yampolsky would like to host fundraisers at the store for causes such as leukemia, which is particularly close to her heart. Yampolsky believes in the healing power of gemstones and sees jewelry making as a form of therapy and passionately believes in helping others.
“If people help you like my friends helped me, you need to help others,” said Yampolsky.
Burke Gems and Beads is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m. The store is closed on Mondays.
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