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Welcome to Cult Classics, where our resident Miami expert Patricia Guarch Wise delves into Miami's oh-so-fashionable history. Take out your notebooks, ladies and gents, because you're about to be schooled, Miami style.Images Via Mayleen Gonzalez
If you casually mention to someone that you're heading to the Seybold Building on a Wednesday afternoon, they'll probably think you're planning to run off and elope. For more than forty years, the Seybold Building, right in the middle of Downtown Miami, has been the go-to spot for wedding ring and band-buying. While the building has seen better days and the vibe is more like an airport than Bergdorf's, it's still the most popular place in Miami for buying something you would never buy at a duty free shop – diamonds.
At the Seybold Building, it feels a bit like you have to be let in on a secret. Mostly, it's frequented by foreigners looking to take home some bling or someone buying something special at the same place their grandfather did. It's not the kind of place you want to walk into and wander around. There aren't added perks like the koi ponds at Bal Harbour. The cafeteria-like lights overshadow the beautiful deco bones of the building. Once you leave the first floor, in an elevator operated by a guy who has to jingle around a wooden lever for it to go up, it gets darker and gloomier by the floor. By the fifth floor, it smells like an orthodontist's office and is filled mostly with jewelry repair shops.
In 1915 John Seybold opened a bakery in a small building to which he gave his name. By the mid-twenties the building had been expanded and reached ten floors. The Seybold Building was a center of fashionable shopping throughout its history; it included a hat store, back when people had hats made for them by a milliner and didn't just pick one up for sale at Zara. In the 70s the building was repositioned as a jewelry center that grew to be the second largest of its kind in the United States.
The oldest tenant in The Seybold building is Buchwald Jewelers, a third generation family-run business that's been slinging watches, loose diamonds, fine jewelry and wedding rings at this location since the 60s. Buchwald Jewelers is located on the first floor of the building in the arcade space where it's lined in neon signs and security guards yelling at you if you try and take a picture - beware selfie takers and compulsive Instagrammers, it doesn't fly here. One store told me it's because some of the high-profile clientele won't want to be photographed, which is laughable, but I kind of like the anti-snapshot policy because it adds to the old school feel.
Inside Buchwald Jewelers, the people are friendly and experienced. Two sharply dressed men in suits pull out gold watch after rose gold watch and answer questions about their Rolex collection. The jewelry is mostly traditional- nothing too modern or avant-garde. They're expensive collectible pieces made with big shiny gems and diamonds.
All in all, the Seybold Building is a bit of Miami history with a particularly poignant Miami-vibe. I mean, what can be more Miami than deco architecture, obscured by neon lights in a building with ultra high-end diamond sellers on the first floor?
· Buchwald Jewelers [Official Site]
· Seybold Building [Official Site]
· History Miami [Official Site]