The Belleview Biltmore charm is available at www.savethebiltmore.com, at the hotel gift shop and at K.K. Smith and Sons jewelers.
BELLEAIR – Located in an area that many say is losing its charm to over development, the Belleview Biltmore has stood as an ageless symbol of beauty, style and casual elegance.
With developers eyeing the classic hotel for possible demolition, one tiny, classically elegant piece of jewelry may play a role in its salvation.
The piece is a charm, a decorative pendant which has enjoyed periods of popularity in the form of a charm bracelet. Charms were collected to capture memories of treasured life experiences … places visited, associations, relationships. It is said that Queen Victoria wore charm bracelets.
Today, charms are worn on bracelets or on a chain or cord necklace.
The Belleview Biltmore Hotel, holding a special place in the lives of its many fashionable patrons, had its own unique and special charm.
The elegant Belleview Biltmore charm has been resurrected and re-created by local jewelers K. K. Smith and Sons. Sales of this collector’s piece through the Save the Biltmore
preservationists Web site (www.savethebiltmore.com), directly from K. K. Smith jewelers or at the hotel gift shop will benefit efforts to rescue and preserve the classic hotel.
The charm is an exact replica of the original jewelry sold decades ago by a fine jeweler located in the hotel. Years have passed since the charm was last available.
The Belleview Biltmore charm’s renaissance was the inspiration of Clearwater resident Barbara Arnold, who provided the original charm for the mold used to create the replica pieces. Arnold is with the preservationists group. Her family has shared cherished moments at the hotel in a relationship spanning four decades.
The charm used to create the replica pieces was an anniversary gift given by Arnold’s father to her mother in the 1960s, Arnold said.
“Mother had admired the charm in the jewelry shop during one of my parent’s many visits to the hotel,” she said.
By making the historic hotel charm available once again, Arnold hopes to inspire many more people to go out and visit the hotel, experience its charms and join in efforts to preserve it.
“I am very, very happy to see it happen,” Arnold said of the charm’s re-creation.
Ken Smith of K. K. Smith and Sons said that he is pleased to have a role in bringing this piece of vintage memorabilia from the hotel back to life. The family-owned jeweler’s Clearwater roots date back more than 50 years.
“The history of the Belleview Biltmore is the history of my family and friends that I knew,” he said. “When Barbara Arnold showed me the charm, I told her right away that I would like to be able to manufacture it.”
Smith said that his dad had connections with the Lennon family who owned the hotel jewelry shop where the original charm was sold. Smith contacted the Lennon Jewelry headquarters in Utica, New York.
“They allowed us to go ahead and reproduce the item,” he said.
An 8-hour process is used to create each charm. Besides the traditional sterling silver, there is a gold over sterling and a 14-karat gold version.
“Every one is hand made,” he said.
The Belleview Biltmore vintage charms are arriving just in time for the hotel’s 110th birthday, said Diane Hein, founder and president of SaveTheBiltmore.com.
Since a portion of the proceeds from the charm’s sales are being used to benefit the preservation cause, the Belleview Biltmore’s many admirers have one more way to wish the hotel “many years to come.”