UPPER WEST SIDE — If Tom Hanks' shirt cuffs have a little extra sparkle at an upcoming movie premiere, it's because of Upper West Side jeweler Harmeet Singh.
Singh's store, The Jewel Boutique at 2586 Broadway near West 97th Street, specializes in custom-designed jewelry. So when the movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" shot scenes outside his shop in March, Singh took the opportunity to present the movie's star, Hanks, and director, Stephen Daldry, with sterling-silver cufflinks.
Singh likes to help customers design one-of-a-kind pieces, and the cufflinks were no exception. He used the distinctive font from the cover of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel the movie is based on to spell out "Extremely Loud" on one cufflink and "Incredibly Close" on the other.
Hanks and Daldry both promised to wear the unique ornaments to the movie's premiere.
"My philosophy is, why be like anybody else?" the storeowner said. Singh — whose shop's tag line is, "Where your sparkling dreams come true" — walks customers step-by-step through the process of creating individualized rings, necklaces and other pieces.
First Singh, an amateur artist, sketches out designs on paper with clients. Then employees at a downtown workshop make a wax model of the piece that customers can hold in their hand and even try on. From there, a rubber mold is created and then a casting is made with the metal the customer has selected, including gold, silver and platinum.
"Customers can see every step of the way, and they have the opportunity to make changes," Singh said. "There are less surprises in the end."
Patrons choose precious stones from a selection that Singh buys directly from an international lineup of gemstone miners. Aside from the usual diamonds, rubies and amethysts, the store carries eye-catching gems such as black opals from Ethiopia and tourmaline from Afghanistan.
Singh, 47, followed his parents into the jewelry business. He and his family live in New Jersey, and he's had a store on the Upper West Side for 22 years. The Jewel Boutique's first location was on Columbus Avenue in the West 70s; the store moved to Broadway and West 97th Street four years ago.
"Most jewelers today aren't really jewelers," he said. "In the old days, a jeweler was someone who sat at his bench and actually crafted a piece. Nowadays, they order from catalogs."
That means some jewelers don't know much about the stones they're selling, he noted. But Singh strives to give customers the old-fashioned, handcrafted touch.
"You dream it," he said, "I design it."