The Beginning of the Legacy
Leann Parker followed her dream of riding horses from Cleveland, OH to Southern Pines in 1972. Soon after moving to North Carolina Leann found a part time job with a local jeweler to support her passionate desire to ride. From working a few hours a week the introduction to jewellery design and fabrication matched her love for the horses and became a lifelong calling. The new love for the jewellery industry combined with a unique eye for detail eventually evolved into a full partnership.
Over the next 30 years Leann followed her dreams around the world. From personal design with Kurt Wayne in New York City to the antique district in Paris with Guy Kalfon, Leann worked with the best manufacturers throughout the United States and internationally; direct buying and designing cultured South Sea, Akoya, and Chinese freshwater pearls; diamonds, fancy colored diamonds, colored gems, and estate jewellery.
While sitting amongst the beautiful jewellery and antique furniture that gives WhitLauter their iconic and warm feel, you will often hear Leann tell stories of Ms. Clara McLean, Leann’s lifelong friend, mentor, and the woman who Leann will describe as “the most influential woman in my life”. Leann’s friendship with Clara McLean was born in the early 1970s, when Ms. McLean moved to Pinehurst. Starting with a conversation over a jewellery case, their intimate friendship grew over the years.
Leann travelled the world designing jewellery, collecting estate jewellery and antiques for Ms. McLean, meeting with her on a weekly basis from 1985 to 2003. During those 18 years, Leann designed numerous of pieces for Ms. McLean’s personal collection ranging from opulent diamond earrings to “Always a Pair of Bracelets”as Ms. McLean would say. Leann’s friendship with Ms. McLean lives on today, even after Ms. McLean’s passing in 2010.
In 2003, Leann stepped away from the world of jewellery to dedicate herself full time to her children, Leland and Whitney. She had enjoyed the past years watching her amazing son and beautiful daughter play amongst the jewellery cases in her store but was faced with both of her children soon to be leaving for college and wanted, so badly, to capitalize of the few years she had left of calling them children.
The Legacy Continues
Years before Leann opened WhitLauter, she had always hoped to share her love and passion for jewellery with Whitney. During the countless adventures they shared while Whitney grew from a little girl into the beautiful woman she has become, Leann quietly combined Whitney’s child hood nickname “Whit” and “Lauter” the German word for “Sterling”, penning the title for their next chapter; and on December 22, 2011 the chapter began to take shape as the doors to 229 NE Broad Street opened, and WhitLauter was born.
Upon returning from college, Whitney knew she wanted to follow her mother’s footsteps into the world of fine jewellery. Seeing Whitney’s passion for jewellery, the same passion felt by herself 38 years before, inspired Leann to re-enter the world she had left eight years ago and thus open WhitLauter. With only twelve pieces of jewellery nestled in two jewellery cases, WhitLauter opened their doors. Striving to create a “Gertrude Stein” style salon one might have felt in the years of 1920s Paris, they brought antique pieces of furniture from Whitney’s childhood home in Pinehurst, NC to create an inviting and elegant experience for customers, family, and friends to share inspiring conversation and unique pieces of jewellery.
Specializing in estate jewellery, South Sea pearls, and custom design pieces. Leann and Whitney have maintained the relationship with their New York benchman that started 30 years ago by Leann, ensuring the quality and trust they build their relationships and business on is upheld. Since their opening, the mother and daughter at WhitLauter have had the opportunity to work with estates that have included pieces from The House of Faberge’, natural South Sea Pearls, and large antique cut diamonds.
Beyond being a shared venture between mother and daughter, WhitLauter embodies the love and enduring passion that the mother and daughter have for jewellery, and the feeling of community and home they have strived to create. With the support of their close friends and family, Leann and Whitney spend each day growing closer to each other; all while creating and sharing unique jewellery with their growing network of clients they now call family.