Master goldsmith Rob Bowden finds ‘perfect fit’ with Kreative Design
Rob Bowden’s eyes swell up with pride when he speaks about how lucky a guy he really is.
He’s been a goldsmith off and on for 34 years. His career, only interrupted by brief periods, has taken him across the country to Yellowknife, Halifax and back to Cape Breton. Originally from Louisdale, Richmond Co., Bowden has spent time as an apprentice mechanic and took social work in university in Regina, Sask., before steering a course back to his craft.
In April, he found himself in a conversation with Kim Boudreau, owner of Kreative Design, a clothing and jewelry boutique for women located in the Value Check Plaza in Sydney River. She wanted Bowden to work for her.
“As soon as I walked in the store I saw this big space back here that was empty. I walked back up to the front of the store, I looked at Kim and said, ‘ Why don’t I just move my stuff in,’” he said.
Bowden said he’s found a new level of happiness by being given the ability to work in an environment where he’s able to challenge himself every day.
His favourite work is jewelry restoration because each piece has its own history behind it.
“I’ve never enjoyed this as much, well (except) when I first started you know …” Bowden said before pausing.
“I get up in the morning and I’m just so happy to come here. Kim makes it so easy,” he continued as tears welled up in his eyes.
He previously worked in retail at a jewelry store for five years. The corporate side of the business left little room for originality.
Much of his time was spent resizing mass manufactured rings and watches. He had enough.
Bowden left his job and took a three-year hiatus from the business before trying to open his own shop.
He soon realized he wasn’t a businessman. He said the sight of numbers on a spreadsheet was enough to make his “eyes bleed.”
Work as a goldsmith is comparable to that of a blacksmith, said Bowden.
Though, the metal he works with tends to be more valuable.
As the only forging goldsmith in Cape Breton, Boudreau said local jewelry stores will often refer customers to Kreative Design because of Bowden’s skills.
The only other option these stores have is to send items like rings and watches away to be fixed or altered to places such as Toronto or even the U.S., she said.
That can be a lengthy and very expensive process, Boudreau added.
“It’s the fact that some can have their jewelry repaired here as they shop or wait, at the very most, 24 or 48 hours,” she said.
And Bowden’s proud to offer a lifetime guarantee on all items that pass across his workbench.
He said he’s hoping his career lasts as long as his father, James, who retired at 75 and now lives in Halifax.
Many of his skills were picked up watching his dad at work.
“I just love it. Some people after work have to go home to de-stress. I don’t.
“This work relaxes me. I get the music going, and I have a lot of people bust me for singing my heart out back here – I can’t sing. Kim’s heard it a couple of times,” he said, laughing.
Master goldsmith Rob Bowden works at restoring a diamond ring in his workshop in the women’s clothing boutique, Kreative Design, in Sydney River on Wednesday. Bowden began offering his services at Kreative Design back in April.