By Elspeth Chalmers –
Dean Davidson, founder and designer behind the brand that shares his namesake, may have his jewelry featured around the world, but Toronto’s east end is where he calls home.
“We’ve been in the area now for many years,” says Davidson. “We were at the Brewery Lofts prior to moving to this location.” His new location is a retail space at 145 Berkeley Street, just south of Queen St E.
It’s provided the internationally recognized brand to be discovered or rediscovered by local Toronto residents. “There’s a lot of people coming from all over the city to visit us and a lot of people in the neighbourhood, which is really cool.” Davidson already has a sizeable international business and has been featured locally in places like Nordstrom, Saks, and the Four Seasons Spa, as well as various locations abroad, but this new space marks a new beginning.
It’s something Davidson has been imagining for many years. “I’ve been in the area for many years, and I love it.
He’s always loved the building at 145 Berkeley and imagined what it might look like to open a retail jewelry store there, so it felt like fate when he saw the place for lease.
This year marks another exciting milestone for the brand as it celebrates its 15th anniversary. The demi-fine jewelry brand features high-quality brass plated in 22-karat gold or palladium as well as semi-precious gemstones. Davidson works with a family-owned workshop in Jaipur, India, where each gemstone is cut by hand. “It has the qualities of fine jewelry without price point,” says Davidson.
Each collection is inspired by Davidson’s own travels, which is where his career in jewelry design began. The first big international trip Davidson had ever been on was to South Africa, where he was inspired by the people and the culture. He bought a bracelet in a market there that he loved so much, he decided to recreate it.
“I brought it back to Calgary, went to Michael’s craft store, and ended up buying supplies and making seven similar designs.” At the time, he was working in agriculture, having grown up on a dairy farm in Manitoba. But he had found something that sparked a passion.
Davidson decided to share his designs with a clothing designer he’d met on his trip and was asked to design an entire collection for the fashion label’s upcoming show at New York Fashion Week.
“Then I enrolled in silversmithing courses, and we went to Paris and L.A.” After three years, Davidson launched his first solo collection and moved to Toronto. “Holt Renfrew picked up my very first collection and then I went on to New York and it just snowballed.”
Throughout his journey, the east end of Toronto has remained home. “After living here for all of these years, I’ve been able to see the neighborhood change. You almost feel like you’re a part of this movement, and you get to see the neighbour hood change right before your eyes.” Davidson is happy to be a part of that community and has his own “amazing team of people” that he works with to bring his creations to life.
Davidson has been nominated for the Canadian arts and fashion award this year, after winning in 2017, and looks forward to bringing more attention to his collection and the east end. “We’ve had people come from all over North America, from Houston to Ottawa to Bermuda, people are traveling from all over the world and making Toronto and this retail space a destination on their trip.”
Visit the Dean Davidson retail space Monday & Tuesday by appointment, Wednesday to Saturday from 10a.m-6p.m, and Sundays from 12p.m-5p.m