When it comes to shopping for jewellery, this city has a lot more to offer than what’s available at the cookie-cutter chain stores. You can get really edgy fashion jewellery made by local artisans. You can also get finely crafted, high-end jewellery customized with hand-selected precious stones. You can even get exquisite estate jewellery here (you just gotta know where to look). But one thing you haven’t been able to get is a selection of all three under one roof—until very recently, that is. In July, Cavalier, the fine jewellery shoppe (217–207 West Hastings Street), opened its doors with a broad range of indie designs, antique pieces, and customizable one-offs from its own in-house studio.
According to co-owner Dane Stevens, featuring such an eclectic mix of merchandise wasn’t merely a creative decision. He and his business partner, Keith Seabrook, didn’t want to paint themselves into a corner with one specialty, only to find out there was no market or too much competition.
“Trying to stick to one thing and trying to do it better than anyone else is really tough to do,” admits Stevens during a one-on-one at Cavalier’s grand-opening party. Thus, the veritable treasure trove of fine finds at Cavalier. In the back of this hip Gastown boutique, there’s a display case of previously loved jewels that include an old-school glam tanzanite and diamond pendant necklace ($30,000) worthy of Elizabeth Taylor herself. There’s also a selection of Cavalier engagement rings, like the two-karat fancy yellow diamond in a pavé setting ($35,000). If the design grabs you but the price scares you, don’t worry. You can order your betrothed this cushion-cut symbol of undying love with a white diamond centrepiece instead for somewhere in the neighbourhood of $8,000 to $10,000.
The middle section of Cavalier is dedicated almost exclusively to indie designers, including Alexandra Dodds. This New Zealand expat’s signature series is a line of handcrafted multifinger statement rings. Using a combination of experimental, traditional, and contemporary techniques, she forms molten metals into one-of-a-kind clustered, reeflike knuckle dusters. Available in solid sterling silver and 24-karat gold-plated bronze (starting at $385), these wearable sculptures are truly fierce and definitely worth checking out.
Like all the designers carried by Cavalier, Dodds donates five percent of her sales to a charity. While some artisans pick a different benefactor, most donate to the ALS Society of B.C., a charity that’s close to Stevens’s heart. His uncle, who handed him the family’s thriving diamond and gemstone wholesale business (which eventually led to the opening of Cavalier), was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2006 and passed away in 2008.
Of course, giving back is only one of many satisfying aspects of the Cavalier shopping experience. At the front of the store, customers (in particular, love-struck folks shopping for engagement rings) can take the edge off in the Cavalier brew lounge. That was the original purpose, anyway. But the space has such a chill vibe, now Gastown dudes who aren’t even in the market for a rock are popping by for a beer or two.
“Some of the guys come in and watch the game or whatever,” says Stevens of his unlikely man cave. “We’ve even cultivated a little bit of an after-work crowd that comes in and hangs out.”
Like we said, it’s like no other jewellery store in the city.