Art

A Jewel of Marin County

Monk Estate, a new shop in Point Reyes Station, is filled with new and antique delights.

Various textiles by Moismont, Marrakshi Life, Le Bonnet, and Communitie.

I DROVE NORTH from San Francisco on a gray winter morning. The sky was hanging low as the road curved inland through a redwood grove. Despite the cold, I rolled my window down long enough to take in a few breaths of the scent: eucalyptus and rich, loamy soil. A coyote meandered across the road, climbing up onto an embankment to watch the car I was driving — the only car on the road — pass by.

Point Reyes Station is a town of less than 300 in western Marin County, just south of Tomales. Like many small towns, it plays host to a regular parade of weekenders seeking refuge from the city, though its blink-and-you-miss-it main street houses only a few storefronts. With retail space so limited, there are rarely vacancies, and the stores in town have remained largely the same for nearly 20 years.

In December 2020, one of them changed. Monk Estate, a jewel box of a shop, opened its doors. Its owner, Lazuli Whitt, is a Point Reyes native whose family moved to the area in the early ’70s. Point Reyes was a ranching and dairy town back then, and Whitt’s father was the town doctor. Whitt left for college and made a return to the area when her own children were young, to give them the same benefits she experienced of growing up in a close-knit community near family.

Perhaps unusual for a shopkeeper, Whitt is a criminal defense lawyer — Monk Estate started as a side project. In the spring of 2018, she began going to London to source antique jewelry, selling it at pop-ups in several boutiques in New York and Los Angeles. The pop-ups were a success. The pandemic then presented her with an unexpected opportunity to pursue a brick-and-mortar space for the business. When some of the shopkeepers who had been in Point Reyes Station for decades decided to retire, several storefronts became available, including one she’d been eyeing for more than a decade.


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Opening a store in the midst of the pandemic was easier than one might imagine, at least in Point Reyes. “It wasn’t hard, actually,” Whitt tells me, “at least not here. Because people couldn’t travel, the destination, which was already popular, became even more so. All the people coming from San Francisco were happy to shop in person in a small store, and just to be out of the city.”

The store is housed in a white one-story building, set back from the road by dark gravel and native landscaping. Its only branding is a discreet golden sign with a serpent on it. The space once housed an artist studio and gallery, and the interior still has an industrial feel. The wares inside — striped Moroccan caftans, hand-dipped beeswax candles, a selection of cookbooks — are as tightly curated as an art exhibition.

The largest display case houses jewelry. The current selection is all antique — largely Victorian era and earlier. With the expansion of the business through the store, it’s apparent that the jewelry case is its heart. Each piece feels deeply considered, and, like so much Victorian jewelry, personal. There are lockets, their gold burnished by 150 years of being worried by the fingers of their wearers; rings shaped like serpents (a common motif of the time) with jeweled eyes; and mourning jewelry, containing tiny intricate braids of hair coiled meticulously beneath rock crystal. A perennial fan of Victorian jewelry, my favorite offerings here were the necklaces Whitt assembled by threading several charms from different sources onto a single heavy gold chain. The groupings were unexpected and the volumes decadent.

When asked what her plans are for this small shop, Whitt is measured. Her success has enabled her to invest in finer jewelry. Alongside the estate pieces, she is beginning to carry fine pieces from a few modern lines she finds particularly exciting, including Los Angeles–based designer Sarah Hendler; En Jewelry Studio, made in upstate New York; and Varon, a line from Mexico City.

But growth is not really the point, says Whitt. She is excited to take buying trips again to Paris, where she sources estate pieces. And she is retiring from her 20-year career as an attorney, while looking forward to focusing on the shop full-time. When speaking to her, one gets the sense that the endeavor has unfolded organically. Like the drive up from San Francisco, the future of this enterprise is unfurling slowly, with Whitt in no hurry to get anywhere in particular. She is enjoying the winding ride — and, of course, curating a remarkable collection of mementos encountered along the way.

Where to Stay, Eat, and Explore Around Monk Estate

The ultimate weekend getaway in West Marin and Tomales Bay.

  • Manka’s Inverness Lodge

    If you’re looking for privacy, look no further than Manka’s Inverness Lodge. Part of Hotel Olema and Company, the hub has several other historical properties around West Marin. Manka’s offers two kinds of unique accommodations — the boathouse on Tomales Bay as well as cabins throughout the property. All of the Hotel Olema and Company properties come with a delicious breakfast delivered right to your room.

  • Tony’s Seafood and Hog Island

    A Bay Area favorite with several locations, the original Hog Island on Tomales Bay can’t be beat. You can shuck your own oysters and barbecue them over a picnic grill. Make sure to reserve a spot, as this is a favorite for both locals and out-of-towners. If you can’t get a reservation at Hog Island, sister restaurant Tony’s Seafood is down the road and has a fantastic menu filled with fresh seafood. If you happen to be there in December or January, the Dungeness crab is a must-try.

  • Cowgirl Creamery

    Down the street from Monk Estate is the famous Cowgirl Creamery. For cheese lovers, this place is a haven. Leave room in your suitcase to bring home some of the house favorites, including Mt Tam, a triple-cream referred to as “Brie’s quirky California cousin.” If you’re extra hungry, the grilled cheese comes highly recommended.

  • Sir and Star at Hotel Olema

    Sir and Star is a locally focused California restaurant inside the Hotel Olema property. From the service to the haunting yet homey interiors to the prix-fixe menu, everything is exceptional. This is the perfect spot for a decadent meal outside the city.

  • Nick’s Cove

    This magical spot is the perfect place to stay or to just enjoy a meal. These rustic yet luxurious cottage accommodations are nestled on the shores of Tomales Bay with fantastic views that can be enjoyed from your own private deck. If you aren’t staying overnight, the restaurant and bar are a fantastic stop for oysters or a cocktail.

  • Manka’s Inverness Lodge

    If you’re looking for privacy, look no further than Manka’s Inverness Lodge. Part of Hotel Olema and Company, the hub has several other historical properties around West Marin. Manka’s offers two kinds of unique accommodations — the boathouse on Tomales Bay as well as cabins throughout the property. All of the Hotel Olema and Company properties come with a delicious breakfast delivered right to your room.

  • Sir and Star at Hotel Olema

    Sir and Star is a locally focused California restaurant inside the Hotel Olema property. From the service to the haunting yet homey interiors to the prix-fixe menu, everything is exceptional. This is the perfect spot for a decadent meal outside the city.

  • Tony’s Seafood and Hog Island

    A Bay Area favorite with several locations, the original Hog Island on Tomales Bay can’t be beat. You can shuck your own oysters and barbecue them over a picnic grill. Make sure to reserve a spot, as this is a favorite for both locals and out-of-towners. If you can’t get a reservation at Hog Island, sister restaurant Tony’s Seafood is down the road and has a fantastic menu filled with fresh seafood. If you happen to be there in December or January, the Dungeness crab is a must-try.

  • Nick’s Cove

    This magical spot is the perfect place to stay or to just enjoy a meal. These rustic yet luxurious cottage accommodations are nestled on the shores of Tomales Bay with fantastic views that can be enjoyed from your own private deck. If you aren’t staying overnight, the restaurant and bar are a fantastic stop for oysters or a cocktail.

  • Cowgirl Creamery

    Down the street from Monk Estate is the famous Cowgirl Creamery. For cheese lovers, this place is a haven. Leave room in your suitcase to bring home some of the house favorites, including Mt Tam, a triple-cream referred to as “Brie’s quirky California cousin.” If you’re extra hungry, the grilled cheese comes highly recommended.

Our Contributors

Skye Parrott Writer and Photographer

Skye Parrott is the executive editor of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor in chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.

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