Stephen Vincent Design forges on

Stephen Vincent creates jewelry using some of the same tools he started with more than 40 years ago at the Renaissance Festival. Photo by Michelle Bruch
Stephen Vincent creates jewelry using some of the same tools he started with more than 40 years ago at the Renaissance Festival. Photo by Michelle Bruch

Stephen Vincent Design has a new home at the Calhoun Beach Club, bringing the workshop out of Vincent’s North Loop loft and into a sunny spot overlooking Lake Calhoun.

Vincent said that while most schools teach students to cast jewelry, he trained as an apprentice in Europe to learn how to fabricate and forge by hand.

“He held up a bar of metal and said, ‘This is your ring honey,’” said Catherine Lehman, Vincent’s wife and the shop’s designer.

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Vincent got his start at the Renaissance Festival, where he helped his brother make jewelry and discovered he had a knack for the craft. He had previously worked as an engineer.

“This is a lot more fun than an electrical board,” he said. “I still love doing it, because I don’t do the same thing every day. There are very few duplicates.”

Vincent said he’ll fall in love with a new piece and think: “This is it, I can retire after this,” and end up melting it down two years later.

“It has to speak to someone,” he said. “I don’t make the jewelry for the masses.”

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perfect fit-page-001Vincent also enjoys teaching. He offers private workshops in which a couple spends the day making wedding rings of their own design from start to finish, beginning by melting down the metal.

Lehman has a background in the film industry, and she uses her skills as a sketch artist to help customers design custom jewelry. She said prior to marrying Vincent six years ago, she didn’t give much thought to her own jewelry. She was happy with a $10 three-earring set at Claire’s, she said.

“I didn’t want to get ripped off,” she said. “I came in with a really different perspective on shopping.”

She’s watched couples gain new appreciation for the jewelry on their hands.

“It takes an endurance you wouldn’t realize until you set one-millimeter diamonds under the microscope,” she said.

“You’ve got to love it,” Vincent said.

Vincent takes care to recycle metals, including the gold dust that collects on the floor and in his apron.

“This apron is probably worth $150,” he said.

sapphire-page-001Vincent also pays attention to the source of each stone. He first read about “blood diamonds” 25 years ago, and said he’s only worked with conflict-free dealers ever since.

The 40-year-old shop has bounced all over the metro, with locations in St. Paul and in downtown Minneapolis. Vincent and Lehman previously lived above the North Loop store in a loft primarily devoted to his workshop.

“After all these years, I just wanted something that was really customer-friendly,” Vincent said.

When they toured space at the Calhoun Beach Club (visitors enter the building on Thomas Avenue and can find them on the third floor), they were struck by the lake views.

“My workbench also looks over Lake Calhoun, so I do get a little distracted,” Vincent said.

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The grand opening cocktail party is Thursday, Nov. 17 from 5-8 p.m., and a trunk show featuring Paula Crevoshay is Dec. 15-17.

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