Art for art’s sake - Rudi Peet, goldsmith

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Rudi Peet refers to himself as a ‘designer goldsmith’. He owns and operates his studio in Canmore, where he builds his own designs out of precious metals and gemstones.

Peet, who was born in the Netherlands, has lived in the Bow Valley for 37 years.

“I also like to work with the customer and try to design and build that ring, pendant or engagement-wedding band unique to them,” Peet said. “A piece of jewellery that compliments and hopefully over time becomes part of them. That of course can be quite difficult but I thrive on that challenge.”

He has been a jeweller for the past 50 year, his entire career.

“It is funny but I always wanted to be a goldsmith,” Peet said. “Somebody that builds small precious objects with meaning that can last hundreds of years.”

He’s created other artwork but always in a three dimensional form.

“I see most of my jewellery as small sculptures that you can wear and once in a while I make a larger sculpture to walk around and look at,” Peet said.

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To learn his craft, he attended a specific goldsmiths school in Holland. After that, he spent another three years at a more advanced school in Germany. And then he immigrated to western Canada.

“I find this part of the world incredibly inspiring,” Peet said. “We have nature, the grandmaster, in abundance. It’s a very deep well to artistically draw from.”

One of Rudi Peet’s custom made rings.
One of Rudi Peet’s custom made rings. jpg, BA

The climate here gives a certain edge to life and keeps him humble, he said.

“It can be hard to be a creative person,” Peet said. “Maybe the hardest part is to admit to yourself that you are one.”

It is also very hard to learn and specially understand what good design actually is, not the latest flavour of the month or the newest colour of the season, he said.

“After all these years I am still searching,” Peet said. “Nature is an incredible help but nature’s designs only go as far as it has to. Us humans like to push the designs a bit further. It is very interesting.”

Although the materials he uses are very expensive, the tools he uses to make jewellery are mostly simple hand tools, he said.

“Eye, heart, hand coordination is still very important,” Peet said. “The newer generation of jewellery makers use a lot of technology like 3d printers, CAD design and 5 axes milling machine and that can get very expensive,” Peet said.

The most popular pieces of jewellery he makes are engagement and wedding rings.

“I like those because it is not something frivolous,” Peet said. “It’s a symbol of two people wanting to commit to each other, so I take that design challenge quite seriously and try to get the customer involved in that design process as much as possible.”

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Over the years he’s made great pieces of jewellery for high profile people and celebrities. “But I try to make the greatest pieces I made, the ones I am working on right now,” Peet said. “So there is not really a favourite piece of jewellery I made yet. I like to think it is still in the future to be built.”

Sometimes a ring is made in a day and other times it will take months to find the right gemstones, he said.

“At the moment, I am working on a neckpiece that has taken me literally years to find the right size and colour of the pearls and gemstones that I feel work best with each other,” Peet said.

The pandemic gave him a chance to slow down.

“Actually, last year’s first Covid lockdown was a great help to me to be able to spend a lot of time on that piece without hardly any interruptions or phone calls,” Peet said. “But then it got busy again.”

He likes and needs to explore nature, either on cross country skis or hiking in the summer, he said.

“I hope they will open up Sunshine Meadows again this summer,” Peet said. “That place is very special to me and gives me a lot of energy and ideas. I also like to ride my motorcycle and so far have managed to go with my two sons Oskar and Lukas on a motorcycle trip every summer.”

Please visit rudipeetgoldsmith.ca for more information.

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