Local Lowdown: Treasure Hunting at R&D los olivos

Posted on Feb 23 by SEASONS Magazine

R&D los olivos’s 350-sq. ft. space belies its largesse of artisanal treasures—jewelry, art and objets d’art that are as fascinating as the boutique’s owners—artist Diane Dorsey and acclaimed jazz musician and flugelhorn player Ron Helman. Courtesy photo.

R&D los olivos’s 350-sq. ft. space belies its largesse of artisanal treasures—jewelry, art and objets d’art that are as fascinating as the boutique’s owners—artist Diane Dorsey and acclaimed jazz musician and flugelhorn player Ron Helman. Courtesy photo.

By Nancy A. Shobe

Just east of the iconic flagpole in the center of Los Olivos’ downtown resides a postage-sized store with big design taste,
R&D los olivos.

​R&D’s 350-sq. ft. space belies its largesse of artisanal treasures—jewelry, art and objets d’art that are as fascinating as the boutique’s owners—artist Diane Dorsey and acclaimed jazz musician and flugelhorn player Ron Helman.

Dorsey, a born-and-bred in Ohioan, brings a Midwestern love for nature to her jewelry designs. Helman, a native New Yorker, draws in customers with his humor, wit and charm.

This 18kt gold rose gold ring with natural diamond was designed by Diane Dorsey. Courtesy photo.

This 18kt gold rose gold ring with natural diamond was designed by Diane Dorsey. Courtesy photo.

It’s easy to see why this dynamic duo works so well together—Dorsey spends most of her days quietly designing in the studio while Helman draws out customers with his engaging manner.

Throughout the store are Dorsey’s hand-cast 18k gold and sterling silver adornments—custom bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings—some with roses and clovers. “I like to incorporate something from the natural world with a relationship to home,” she says. Other jewelry includes pieces from designers Anthony Lent, Johnny Ninos and Susan Highsmith, to name a few. ​

It’s a serendipitous tale of how Dorsey and Helman, who met in a yoga class in Santa Fe, arrived in Los Olivos. “When a store in Los Olivos requested Dorsey’s jewelry for a trunk show, we decided to make it a road trip. Just for fun, I asked Diane to look up rentals. A cute cottage with a pond showed up and we said, ‘let’s go for it,’” says Helman.

Helman, who can be found sometimes sitting outside greeting customers, is a fount of knowledge. Wherever the customers’ eye draws, he educates—whether it be about the handmade desert scarves by Garza Marfa, vineyard rose candles with custom scents, Japanese linen bags, or stunning art by Caroline Huggins and Tadeusz Torzecki.

Dorsey adds, “You should have something of beauty in your life, always. And, you should use them every day.” Such is the premise behind R&D los olivos.

R&D los olivos, 2446 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos, 505/999-7752, randdlosolivos.com.

Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

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