Tell us about yourself and your business! What do you do or sell?
Christopher says: Simply put, we make Fine Jewelry. Our passion is to create bespoke jewelry that is timeless and sophisticated. We work closely with our clients to create one of a kind engagement rings and jewelry that they will wear their entire lives. Everything we make is made here in our studio, from the initial design concept to the finished piece. We’re the only jewelry studios in Chicago that still makes jewelry in this way, hand-crafted from start to finish. It’s the purest form of jewelry design and it’s what I love to do.
From Christopher's website: Creating is about turning jewelry design into reality. The idea stage is part of what we love about creating one of a kind designs, the collaboration with our clients is an essential cornerstone of our studio’s culture. If you stop by the studio you will see our team of Artists and Craftsmen in action, usually with music playing in the background as we all work on the engagement rings or other pieces of bespoke jewelry. There’s no pretense to what we do. It’s Art and it’s Craft and it's about executing high precision miniature engineering, so you have to stay relaxed to do your best.
Every item we create must stand the test of time. We approach each design as if it were a work of art and engineer it as if we were building a piece of miniature architecture. We are truly lucky and humbled, expecting that what we make for each client will be cherished for the rest of their lives. I insist on each element being structurally sound, functional and timeless. Each order custom made to our clients’ specifications, making each creation bespoke and one of a kind.
Why did you start this business? If you were a superhero, what would your origin story be?
Christopher says: I love to make things. I get to work with great people and beautiful materials every day!
From Christopher's blog "Celebrating 25 Years of Jewelry Design: One Client at a Time":
I have been making jewelry for quite a while now. I first got interested in High School art class, my mother was taking a jewelry class at the university where my dad taught at the time. It came naturally to me. I continued with blacksmithing and continued with artistic pursuits throughout College and officially went to work in the “trade” in the 1970s. I moved to San Francisco and worked with a master jeweler there for several years before beginning my career there as an independent jewelry designer in 1992. We moved to Chicago in 1993 to open our little enterprise with almost nothing. My wife was a flight attendant and supported us by working long hours until we got things going a few years on. Things were tight, to say the least, but we worked hard and had faith in each other and many people helped us along the way.
Those years were filled with hard work and long hours and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. We started out from scratch and we made not only a company, but many wonderful friends, and a few nice pieces of fine jewelry along the way.
What's the story behind the name of your business?
Christopher says: It was easy for me to remember :) The truth is I stand by my work, I wanted to make my mark as a jewelry designer and create a style that was my own. We stamp a little insignia inside every ring to show its origins in our studio.
Tell us the story of selecting your location.
Christopher says: We chose this neighborhood 25 years ago and I think it is one of the best areas in all of Chicago. It was the perfect are with only a few artists in Evanston and I felt at home here. I really love Chicago’s architecture and find that it’s a wonderful source of inspiration for many of my designs. You can see the city’s influence in my collections like Art Deco Redux.
What sets your business apart from others that sell the same products?
Christopher says: By definition, no one else sells our products. We’re the only jewelry design studio in Chicago that makes all of our items from scratch, with two gemologists on staff and a master goldsmith. We still take photographs of our pieces (#nofilter) versus other jewelry stores that use computer generated images to showcase their designs. You can often find us creating innovative solutions to a design challenge and designing a couture piece that begins with a rare precious gemstone that a customer might wish to restyle.
From "Celebrating 25 Years of Jewelry Design ... " 2018 marked the 25th year of Christopher Duquet Fine Jewelry. Over the years we have cultivated intimate collaborative relationships with many clients. Sometimes for engagement rings, often for bespoke jewelry. The majority of our creations begin with our clients. We have an inquisitive approach to custom design that has made this last 25 years fly by. We want each piece we make to be unique, each as if it were the first time that design was ever imagined. It’s our clients that inspire us to work long hours, to elevate our designs, and create jewelry that will be distinctly beautiful and stand the test of time.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business?
Christopher says: Do it only if you truly love it. Running your own business take time and dedication, especially if you want to create something special and one of a kind. The inspiration and willingness to show up everyday comes from having passion for what you do and working with people you love and respect.
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