a couple of weeks ago i had the privilege of interviewing kevin and genevieve of hume atelier. i didn’t know anything about them before heading over to their gastown condo, other than that they create gorgeous one of a kind rings. when i left their home two hours later i left inspired, excited and giggling to myself that i had accidentally connected with not only talented artists but a couple pursuing sustainable and ethically traded materials.
over coffee and tea we talked about hume atelier for just shy of two hours but it felt like 20 minutes. kevin explained how he was well on his way to becoming a physical education teacher when he got distracted and through a series of serendipitous (LOVE that word) events ended up in the jewelry industry. he went to school and became a gemologist before apprenticing for a couple of years. after apprenticing and doing some gilding work kevin and gen created hume atelier. they’ve been in business for 6 years creating exclusive custom design jewelry.
secrets, generally speaking, have a negative connotation to them but there are a few major secrets that we like to keep that are not only positive but life changing. gen and kevin love that they get to be a part of someone’s secret – the secret that someone’s life is about to change in a fundamental way – and usually right up to the proposal they are some of the only ones who know! kevin and gen will get text’s from their clients just before they pop the question saying that he has been wearing the ring around the house and has discovered which light it looks best in and how it sparkles! they’ll get phone calls from hawaii immediately after the proposal! these conversations are totally unexpected but is one of the reasons why kevin and gen love what they do!
the process of building an engagement ring or wedding bands is such a personal experience. these are really the only things that you will wear every day for the rest of your life, you want to get it right and you want to build your story into it, from engraving the tidal chart of your wedding day on your rings, to mapping out your respective hometowns on your cuff-links. it is this kind of creativity, attention to detail and customer care that makes hume atelier so phenomenal.
the other component to hume atelier which kevin and gen did not expect is educating their clients about jewelry. they have received many requests from clients to rebuild their engagement rings due to stones falling out, white gold turning yellow, etc… kevin and gen go beyond educating their clients about the standard 4C’s (cut, colour, clarity and carat) to provide a more comprehensive overview of diamonds, as well as considerations for metal and fabrication options. there is a lot of sneaky language in the jewelery industry, and they want to translate it for you! men are spending huge amounts of money on a ring with inadequate education or knowledge of jewelry but would never think of buying a car that way! this is what spurred on kevin and gen to host jewelry education nights for men! they would host groups of guys for a drink and spend the evening giving them the information they need and the questions to ask when they go out to buy their rings. they wanted men to be able to make an informed, educated choice when purchasing their jewelry so that they are buying the best quality they can.
the conversation with kevin and gen then transitioned into a topic which made me so stoked: fairtrade gold. They have been involved in the development of the gold since 2006.
Gold certified to Fairtrade and Fairmined Standards provides small-scale miners and their communities in developing countries the opportunity for better living and working conditions. More information can be found at fairgold.org. they are so happy that as of february, fair trade gold has entered the market!
other than fairtrade gold hume atelier also offers 100% post-consumer recycled gold. post consumer means that the gold has been worn and cherished and now is ready to be loved again! re-using really is the most sustainable act.
i asked about blood diamonds which opened a whole other can that we didn’t have enough time to talk about but they did mention that the movie “blood diamonds” actually came out far later than it should have.
We talked about Canadian diamonds, and from my interpretation of what kevin and gen were saying… you should know what you are buying and where it is coming from! if you are buying a canadian diamond, great! you are supporting your local industry.
from here my conversation with the humes transitioned into supporting local artists. you know it’s something i am so passionate about, which is why i am blogging about hume atelier in the first place! i asked them to talk a bit about the differences they see between purchasing a piece through them apposed to a larger, non-local jewelry store.
they mentioned how of course, economically it’s great to support local companies, especially local arts due to the massive cuts to the arts in bc which have been devastating. supporting local art also foster local culture.
when you create a custom piece through hume atelier you know exactly where that product is coming from, everything that is going into the ring and why, you’ll be highly educated, you’ll know exactly who you are purchasing it from and in fact you are welcomed into the artists home for drinks! to be involved in the process of creating a ring is really special. if you purchase your ring from a big company, you don’t get that involvement. it’s a different experience and a different story.
guys can be overwhelmed when they go to a store to pick out ring. the atmosphere is very consumer. you go to kevin and gen’s home where the atmosphere is relaxed and homey. you drink beer and discuss the ring. kevin has nothing in front of him to sell you or push on you. the jewelry industry is high pressure with weird myths like spending two months salary on a ring and other bizarre expectations. hume atelier sets that all aside. its about educating you to know what’s available then tailoring it to your vision and fitting it into your budget.
kevin is a goldsmith – he makes everything from scratch. jewelers just attach pieces together like a puzzle: setting, band and diamond. The problem with this is there isn’t a setting for every sized diamond which is why diamonds can fall out (which happened to me!!). As a goldsmith kevin creates the band and the setting to fit the diamond.
i asked kevin and gen who their clients are. they mentioned how they aren’t for everyone but for those who are in the design industry or arts, people who want to be involved in the design process, who have a custom idea that they can’t find anywhere or often times, people who have had a terrible experience at a store.
each client experience is unique because each piece is custom designed and made. when you first get in contact with hume atelier you are invited into their home for a consultation to discuss your ring. kevin and gen like to get to know who you are and who they are building the ring for, what’s your lifestyle and interests. they will often ask clients what they wear and what their house looks like to get a good understanding of their vision and style. based on this discussion kevin creates a series of drawings and designs. usually the client will choose something from this first draft but if not they go back to the drawing board taking elements from the previous drawings that the client liked to create the perfect piece.
once you have chosen your design and submitting a deposit kevin builds your piece and delivers on completion. he understands that as a client you are taking a leap of faith choosing a custom design. if in any way they don’t meet your expectations they will do whatever it takes to make it right. this is the customer service you are guaranteed to receive.
after our conversation i took some photos of rings that kevin did have on hand but as i mentioned earlier, everything is custom, one ofs, so they don’t have a bunch of stock lying around. these pieces are literally clients rings!
you can find more images and contact information here.
now i just have to get tyler to set up an appointment with kevin… :)