Nestled in a corner of Oakland’s design haven, Temescal Alley, sits Esqueleto—a small and light-filled boutique brimming with an array of handcrafted jewelry, housewares, plants and other curiosities. Founder and jewelry designer, Lauren Wolf, opened the shop in 2011 after relocating to the Bay Area from Brooklyn. Since then, Esqueleto has become a beloved staple within Temescal’s indie designer community and has even expanded its reach with the recent launch of a second location in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA.
The shop is most widely known for its unique selection of handcrafted jewelry—including Lauren’s own eponymous line. Originally getting her start as a jeweler and studying the craft in Mexico, her line features a stunning mix of pieces inspired by travels and an embrace of the natural world. Also featured is the work of other artisan jewelers like Melissa Joy Manning, Ursa Major and Adeline—to name a few. As a whole, the entire jewelry collection featured in Esqueleto represents a beautiful balance of earthly essence and sophistication.
Complimenting the shop’s jewelry displays you’ll find all sorts of art and curiosities curated through what could be described as a “desert-eclectic” lens. Animal skulls, geodes, cacti and ceramic vases punctuate the space—often making the shop feel more like a Natural History museum over a trendy boutique. Additionally, the shop’s skeleton motif is subtly sprinkled throughout, giving it a strangely delightful macabre vibe (“Esqueleto” means “Skeleton” in Spanish).
The artwork on display fits right in with this with this theme—most notably featured being the work of local Oakland artist, Patrick Dunaway. His intricate, hyper-detailed drawings sing an ode to desert life and contain hints of Black Magic and mystery. His snake prints (many of which are available for purchase in the store) have always been a personal favorite of mine and add a bit of charming grit to any space.
With a rotating assortment of one-of-a-kind goods, Esqueleto is always evolving. But no matter when you visit, you’re surely guaranteed the easiest treasure hunt you’ll ever have.
Visit Esqueleto Oakland at 482 A 49th St. and Esqueleto LA at 1298 W Sunset Blvd.
Copy and photography by Ali Hartwell for The Merchant Home. Please credit and link appropriately.