Stroll into Shannon Green Long’s namesake fine jewelry boutique, Shannon Green Collection in the burgeoning Naples Design District, and you’ll likely spot the owner chatting with a customer at a wooden table with a tray full of gems, while her three dogs lounge nearby. The freestanding building with its signature black-and-white-striped awning on 12th Street South is a happy space that Green Long purposefully chose three years ago for its central location in the fast-growing neighborhood. Glass museum cases and a handsome antique jewelry case from the 1850s showcase eight jewelry lines handpicked by her. “My job is to find treasures that make people happy,” she says of the boutique’s core of small-batch artisans, who aren’t found at most department stores. “With these designers, you’ll likely end up with a one-of-a-kind piece.”
Green Long can trace her initial love for jewelry back to her childhood in Kentucky, watching her mother and grandmother adorn themselves with pieces from bygone eras. “My grandmother’s style was from the 1950s, and my mother’s jewelry had a ’70s-vibe,” she recalls. “You don’t always remember the clothes that someone wore when you were growing up, but you do remember what their diamond ring looked like or the necklace that they wore daily.” Channeling the laidback vibes of Naples, Long’s easy daily uniform consists of denim, a black T-shirt or tailored white blouse, covetable shoes, and, of course, statement jewelry. “It really is all about the jewelry and good shoes. That’s what makes me feel dressed,” she says, adding that a big cocktail ring, even in the daytime, is a must. While she constantly rotates jewelry, there’s one special bracelet that she’s worn for 20 years: a Bvlgari two-tone Spiga wrap bracelet that she gifted herself.
Her draw to fine jewelry accelerated after graduating from college, when she landed a job in London as an assistant accessories buyer for a British clothing manufacturer. She would jet-set around western Europe, hunting for hats, belts, scarves and jewelry, and then pull together coordinating outfits. “That’s where I really honed my eye for luxury items,” she says. While she longed to open a jewelry store of her own, she wouldn’t pursue that dream until her late 40s. After moving to Naples more than 20 years ago–where she’s lived with her life partner Karl Faerber for more than a decade—she was either busy raising her daughter, Lydia, or couldn’t afford a retail space. “It never seemed to work out. If I had the time, I didn’t have the money,” she explains. Everything finally aligned in May 2012, and she opened her first small store in downtown Naples. “I call it my ‘incubator’ because it was the place for me to learn and grow the foundation of my business. I guess I’m proof that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.”
Travel has most influenced her inventory, though, it’s not so much a particular far-flung destination as it is the influence of the chic passersby she may encounter. “If I didn’t see a brand at a trade show, I likely saw someone on a trip wearing a piece and I approached them to ask who made it,” she reveals, also admitting that Instagram is now a valuable source for discovering global artisans. Green Long gravitates toward the arresting colors of Suzy Landa’s gemstone line and Nevada turquoise; double-sided, hand-inscribed charms by Erica Molinari; the finish work on the gold jewelry by Nada Ghazal Fine Jewelry from Beirut; and Marla Aaron locks that can be used infinite ways as charms or clasps for necklaces and bracelets. “I consider it a workhorse line. Once you buy one piece, you end up buying more,” she says of the locks’ function and beauty. “I have on one every day of my life now.”
For Green Long, it’s more than handpicking jewelry brands—a favored aspect of her job is fashioning bespoke pieces for a client, or reimagining something they’ve inherited or an old piece that they’ve grown tired of. Working with trusted goldsmiths, she even transforms unconventional items such as rocks collected during a customer’s travels, framing them in delicate gold and dangling them from a stunning lock. “We don’t want to start a whole new thing. We want people to build their own collection,” she says, adding that most clients who come into her boutique wind up being repeat customers, always longing for another piece. “People come up to me all the time, wearing all jewelry from Shannon Green and nothing thrills me more. It’s the inspiration for me to keep moving forward.”