Meghan Markle and J.Lo fave open jewelry boutique in Toronto

The season of shine.

It was that, and more, at a recent glittering party celebrating the opening of Dean Davidson, on Berkeley Street in Cabbagetown South. Celebration of the jeweler’s first eponymous boutique, it also marked the 15th anniversary of a brand that has become one of the most coveted in the country.

“For the first time, you can find our entire collection in one place and see how it all works together,” says the man behind the piece, whose designs have adorned luminaries such as Oprah, J.Lo and Meghan Markle. The 1,000-square-foot space — near Davidson’s home — is airy and modern, with windows all around, and once housed a men’s clothing store that Davidson himself frequented. “I often thought it would be great to have a store there one day.”

Just the latest move, indeed, for the jeweler who grew up on a dairy farm in rural Manitoba. The youngest of four – with a twin sister – he was always good with his hands, he tells me, and constantly creating. His work ethic was clearly shaped by his family (his mother became mayor of their small town) and those days on the farm.

It was a trip to South Africa in her twenties, however, that would lead to her creative awakening. His first big international trip, and sensory overload has caught up with him. “The energy, the people, the sights and the sounds – everything about South Africa was inspiring,” he recalls. A bracelet he found in a market in Cape Town inspired him to launch his first collection in Calgary, where he was then living.

bling ring

How has Davidson evolved, in terms of design, over the years? While the focus is always on “quality, uniqueness and comfort,” he says, “the Dean Davidson customer is someone who carefully selects their style, selecting pieces that reflect their sophistication and complete their uniqueness”. Some of the staples in his collections include a milky white rainbow moonstone and a bluish green labradorite.

He adds that he is very fortunate to work with a family-owned factory in Jaipur, India, where the pieces are made by the hands of artisans with a 100-year tradition of jewelry making. “It took time to perfect the brushed finish you see on my work, which has become our signature,” he says. “I created the effect in my studio in Toronto and it was a challenge for the factory in India to replicate it – but they pulled it off.”

Materials and production, he says, have evolved: “Today we work with durable, lustrous, man-made gemstones as well as natural semi-precious stones. It can take up to six hours to facet a single stone.

express yourself

Speaking of influences, he names Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra”: “the epitome of jewelry inspiration in film – every scene is a feast for the eyes.” In fact, Davidson recently visited a flea market in Europe where he came across a vintage collector who owned several of the original pieces from the film. “I was holding the emerald snake brooch that she wore like a belt,” he says. “It inspired the gemstone I used in our recently launched Eterna collection, inspired by ancient Rome.”

The original series “Sex and the City” is another eternal reference. “It was released around the time I started making jewelry.”

Inspiration can come from anywhere, anytime, he says. “I find myself sketching unexpectedly on paper napkins or receipts when I come across objects, buildings and landscapes,” he says. “We’ll be sitting at a dinner party in Paris, and I’ll notice a beautiful wall sconce and think, ‘Wow, that silhouette would make an exquisite stud or a beautiful clasp.'”

Travel, of course, is always a touchstone. The destinations that inspired him are Kyoto, Bali, Marrakech and the Lençóis Maranhenses Park in northern Brazil. Some places he still dreams of and wants to visit: Kenya, Peru and Sicily.

When I ask him if jewelry making has spilled over into other areas of his life, he replies enthusiastically, “Another passion of mine and my partner Fernando’s is interior design. We have an Airbnb property called North Lake Treehouse, which we designed the same way we approach a collection: every detail is thought out.

As for the pieces he wears every day, Davidson tells me they typically include a sterling silver cuff from a men’s collection he designed about seven years ago, a Rado watch, and a bracelet from a brand called Title of Work. “These pieces make me feel good when I wear them – I have a connection to them,” he says. “That’s what we strive to provide our customers with the jewelry we create.”


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