It is love that often causes someone to step inside a fine jewelry store: romantic love, filial love, maternal or paternal love, or even the need to honor oneself. Jewelry is not a gift born of practicality, but that is precisely what makes it so special. A truly beautiful ring serves no other purpose than to remind its wearer that he or she is loved.
Therefore, purchasing a special piece should be a romantic occasion. But walk into most traditional fine jewelry stores, and what transpires feels much more like buying stock. Bright fluorescent lighting illuminates an overeager sales team much more likely to use words like “value” and “investment” than “unique” and “distinctive.” It seems that most chain stores view their entire inventory as various combinations of carats and ounces, selling size, and setting weight, rather than beauty.
For those who would prefer to have a different experience, T Lee, owner of T Lee Fine Designer Jewelry, offers several of her own jewelry lines in a 1,000 square foot showroom. She is happy to do custom work.
Lee says, “It’s a way to be more accessible to my clients, and a way to meet more people who want to do special, meaningful jewelry one piece at a time.”
Communicating with clients on custom-design projects recently been made easier and faster thanks to computer-assisted design software, which allows Lee to e-mail exact renderings of the finished product.
Lee also is able to incorporate scrap metal into her pieces. In fact, she was using recycled gold out of necessity before it became part of the emerging green trend.
Lee explains, “People often bring in parents’ or grandparents’ jewelry, and say, ‘Can you put some of this metal in my new ring?’ It’s a way to let one generation touch the next. I’ve always loved that piece, because it helps people make their wedding or commitment jewelry more significant for them.”
As meaningful as that reuse of metals is for Lee’s customers, it is equally important to her that business practices do not contribute to ecological misfortune. She seeks out ethically minded gem sources, and repurposes excess scrap metals in her workshop.
Lee remarks, “There is absolutely no reason gold needs to be mined. There’s enough gold in circulation to fill the need.”
Additionally, Lee sponsors several what she calls “GNOs” to preview upcoming collections: Girls Night Out, Guys Night Out, and Gay’s Night Out. The next Gays Night Out is scheduled for March 2010. A full schedule is available online.
To view Lee’s work, stop by the store, or log on to the website.
Name of Company: T Lee Fine Designer Jewelry
Year Founded: 1983
President/CEO: T Lee
Number of Employees: 6
Address: 18 University Ave. NE, Mpls.
Phone: (612) 789-2656