Pave Fine Jewelry has created a niche in Bend’s jewelry market by tuning in to local trends, focusing on community involvement and offering a unique “happiness guarantee.” Due to the success and growth of the business over the past 10 years, Pavé has withstood the recent economic downturn to continue creating innovative designs, and the shop is busier than ever before. Story by Renee Patrick
Owner John Voelzow first dabbled in the trade as a teenager. He began drilling and polishing Mexican coins for his neighbor’s beaded jewelry and then began making his own fashion belts made of brass and agates in his 20s. A few years later he started an informal apprenticeship in Tuscon, Arizona. “I learned the trade and worked for four-five years before moving to California,” he said. In the Bay Area Voelzow worked for several jewelry stores and a trade show before picking up and moving to Bend in 2001.
“California was getting crazy, and I had a couple of friends here… then I saw a for lease sign where the store is now (on the corner of Minnesota & Bond St.),” he explained. Voelzow jumped at the corner spot in the busy downtown area, expanding into a second space six years ago. He did all the remodeling: in the showroom he built the cases and cabinets and also refinished the floor and tin ceiling.
“Shortly after opening I got the feel that downtown was a very custom oriented jewelry mecca,” Voelzow said. “I have great ideas for design, but my forte is not creating the initial model,” he explained. He reached out to Rod Kuehnast, one of the owners where he worked in Tuscon, and soon Kuehnast joined the Pavé team.
“Rod’s jewelry and art is amazing. I don’t think there is anyone in the state who is as talented when it comes to handcrafting jewelry,” Voelzow said. “I felt very lucky to be able to get him to come up here.” A few years later Molly España joined the men, a graduate gemologist and a certified insurance appraiser, España’s skills ensure customers get the correct appraisals, which can often save people money. “Between the three of us we have 70 years of experience in the jewelry industry. Our 10 years of being in business in Bend seems small comparatively.”
Pavé Fine Jewelry’s creative custom designs and repair services are very popular, but so are the lines they carry from other jewelers. Local artist Gabrielle Taylor’s work can be found in the shop along with several other Oregon artists. “A lot of times we draw in designers when we really appreciate their style,” Voelzow said. “There is a limit to what three people can create, a lot of our time is spent on custom designs, wedding and anniversary pieces.
“I think we genuinely care about our customers and take the time to educate them and cater to their needs, it’s not about what we think they need or what we want to see them buy. No one is pushy, we work around what you want and your budget. Rod is amazing and can sit down with a customer and can draw out inspiration and put it down onto paper.”
The Pavé team has noticed some unique Bend trends: rustic, raw looks: raw diamonds, alternative metals, heavy hammered finishes and materials like recycled gold. “People like to see the eco-friendly materials in their jewelry,” Voelzow said.
Pavé keeps up with trends by reading trade magazines, looking to award shows to see who is wearing what and traveling to Las Vegas and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show each year.
Supporting local charities is important to the business and they have been active supporters of the Assistant League of Bend, hosting them on a First Friday each year and raising money for their program, Operation School Bell. Chimps Inc. is another non-profit they support.
At the end of the day, Voelzow thinks Pavé’s excellent customer service, design skills and their “happiness guarantee” have helped to create a strong customer base. “We state that anything you buy here you have to be 100 percent happy with; we will refund money on anything. If we build you a ring, we will make it again if you don’t like it. If you just don’t like it, we will give the money back, and have never refused a return,” he said.
“If it can be done at all, it can be done right.”