WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND – MAY 2014

wftw-m1WITH DANE STEVENS OF TOUGH LOVERS AND CAVALIER JEWELRY

Summer is drawing near, and that means diamond shopping is looming for engagement and wedding season! Or, for those more into the non-committed lifestyle and solo freedom, a new pimpin’ watch will do just fine. In any case, summer swagger is in this year and Cavalier is the place to stock up. Passed down from Dane Steven’s uncle and grandfather who were gem wholesalers, Cavalier is a brand new boutique jewelry shop in Gastown with more than a dozen local designers, high-end imports and custom design work for rings manufactured in-house.

When not sourcing stones all over the world, Dane plays bass for Tough Lovers, a Vancouver pop-rock band fueled by synth and retro-groovy hooks. You can catch them May 1 at the Fox Cabaret, or keep an eye out mid-May for their new video to drop.

BR: What is your role at Cavalier?

DS: I’m a founding business partner and I buy the stones, have the connections with the mines, do the wholesale. I go to Asia twice a year, New York once a year, and go to all of the travelling gem shows that come through.

BR: And tour with your band on top of that?

DS: Yeah, it’s kind of funny. The first tour we went on we drove coast to coast, and I’ve done that drive many times for wholesale. By day three, the guys were like, “We’ve been driving so long!” and I’d been doing that drive for the last five years for work. We toured with BESTiE a year ago and that was really fun, but we haven’t toured since.

wftw-m2BR: What’s the best part of opening your own business?

DS: Doing something I love doing. I love working with people and no one is ever upset. They’re always so happy buying here, no one’s in a shitty mood buying a diamond. It’s a lot of work but I like that too. I’m always busy, I can’t even tour until I get more hands-off, but I can’t exactly find a replacement for myself here.

BR: What are your qualifications?

DS: I went to gemology school, the Canadian Institute of Gemology. You learn about every step of the business and I’ve had some really good mentors. I’ve worked in this business since straight out of high school. My uncle taught me a lot about buying, selling, basically everything on the wholesale end. This store has been open for nine months and all of the other retailers that I used to sell to told me what to do. I still call them if I have a problem.

BR: Would you ever use this space to play live music?

DS: No, I’m scared of breaking the glass! We try to do one event a month in this space, so we’ll turn the desk into a DJ table, sort of an after hours party. The Stanley Cup was here… Keith’s brother won it. He plays for the Blackhawks. We had to get the Cup in the store. That was an amazing day. Drinking beers out of the Cup… it just felt so Canadian. I didn’t think I was going to care that much that the Cup was around but it has a presence.

BR: How do you source the local designers you sell at the store?

DS: Well, I go talk at the VCC Jewelry Design program once a semester and give them tips on buying gems, since they don’t really teach that side of the business there. I meet some people there and generally once I find people that I like, I just approach them and ask. It’s a really small community in Vancouver. As soon as we put up our email, we got an email every day asking us to show jewelry. That’s slowed down a lot.

Stop by Cavalier to say hi to Dane Stevens and check out all of the great local designers he is representing in addition to the higher end gems and diamonds. Tough Lovers perform at the Fox Cabaret on May 1.

By Jessica Brodeur
Photos: Sarah Whitlam

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