Sophisticated yet friendly
Luxury without pretense
Hip but not trendy
Designer jewelry that is powerful and rare
'SHELTER EACH OTHER'
Raising funds for Homeless Shelters
'The simple but deeply fundamental lesson I have learned from nearly 37 years of collaborating with my custom clients is that we are always better when we are working together. That together we can accomplish things we never could do alone. I believe that the love and desire for freedom and justice for all others is a prerequisite for wanting the same for ourselves. I stand in solidarity and gratitude to all those who are committed to justice and change.' -- tlee
Responsible. Repurposed. Eco-Friendly Designer Jewelry.
We actively seek out gem sources that support fair trade pricing, ecologically advanced colored gemstone mining techniques, gem separation, energy consumption, green-house gas emission, land reclamation and rare species protection policies. We work with like-minded gem faceters who monitor mining conditions and personally oversee their own cutting operations. As for our practices in our Minneapolis manufacturing studio, we are fully committed to the highest standards there also. All clean manufacturing scrap from our custom shop is re used. Floor sweeps, sink sludge and mixed scrap are all reclaimed. All casting investments and cleaning fluids are disposed of properly. Office and kitchen waste is minimized through recycling and composting with very little ending up in the dumpster. We remain committed to promoting sustainable business practices, believing that it is particularly important in an industry whose product is inextricably connected to the earth. “I believe that people are basing more and more of their buying decisions on how ethically responsible a business is run. People want a better world and are using their dollars to show that.
They want to support a product that does good AND feels good to buy and wear. The significant meaning of wedding jewelry can only get deeper with the addition of eco friendly practices" comments T Lee. The Kimberly process, created to eliminate the flow of “conflict or blood diamonds”, requires participating countries to tightly control the import and export of rough diamonds and to establish control systems over their private sectors that trade in rough diamonds. T Lee believes her shop is doing one step better than selling only ethically mined diamonds-when sourcing diamonds for clients, her first choice is buying ‘post consumer’ diamonds from her vendors. “These are stones that have been in the market stream, who’s mining damage to the earth and potentially to peoples rights, is done. These recycled diamonds are recut if necessary, re-certified by a gem lab and ready for a new life in a piece of our custom jewelry. There is no need to move dirt and break civil rights for freshly mined diamonds. I can even get post consumer melee (small diamonds) now! I pushed this idea hard to one of my young diamond dealers 10 years ago and now he has more post consumer diamonds in his inventory than anyone else I know of, he found out what we already knew-our clients care”. Whether from privately owned mines or from village co-ops, we have a network of sources the world over than offer the most beautiful and humanely produced gemstones on the planet. All pieces are hand-fabricated by our expert craftspeople and are constructed using reclaimed and re-refined gold, platinum and palladium.
MEET THE TEAM
In the 36 years of T Lee Custom Designer Jewelry I can sincerely say this is the most comprehensive and deeply talented team I have ever had. I am honored daily to work with them.
For many years I’ve wondered what I would do when I grew up and when I would have to let go of the love I have for making things and settle into a job.
That day just never came and here I am, 36 years later, still doing what I love, making things.
I’ve been making things with my hands ever since I can remember. I have memories as a little kid, whittling thick sticks into beautiful instruments-we would stand across from each other and in a very choreographed dance, we would strike them together adding words to punctuate our motions. I always put much effort into making sure my sticks had lovely swirls and patterns on the grips. We braided long grasses into bracelets and wore them with each other until they fell off, usually meaning that the end of summer was near.
I’ve been blessed with printed press, national awards and interviews but the greatest honor and achievement of my career is the people I’ve been surrounded with. Collectors of my work that keep coming back for more, attending our events and supporting all our new collections. And the greatest gift, the talented craftsmen and women that work side by side with me. Sharing the love of making things, we blend our skills and what we produce together is something brand new, every single time.
When I sit down to design a piece of jewelry, it’s like reading a story I know nothing about but, at the same time, I am the author.
My first introduction to jewelry was in junior high school. Part of the curriculum was jewelry making. The instructor, ex golden gloves boxer turned art teacher, made beautiful pieces. This strange combination intrigued me. I found that designing and making jewelry came naturally to me.
I was captivated!
I continued to experiment and practice. Learning from books, I taught myself more and more. Eventually getting to that wonderful place where I could make exactly what I drew.
In college, I majored in drawing, painting, ceramics, and sculpture. But wherever I lived I always had a jeweler’s bench set up.
Having started my own business, worked with large corporations, small boutiques and wholesale jewelers as well as participated in art fairs and hosted numerous art openings, I am always exploring, learning and playing.
I can’t wait for the next story!
As a child, Alice was very creative, using any materials she could find. From the clay in a neighboring pond to the leftover scraps of fabric at home, she made tiny sculptures all the way up to 10 foot patchwork animals. Later on as a college student, art and design seemed like a natural fit. While earning a degree in visual communications at the University of Minnesota she was able to explore color theory, illustration, 2 & 3 dimensional design, and jewelry design & manufacturing. It was here that she first met T, and it was here that began a lifetime love of designing and fabricating designs in stone and metal. Post college Alice held many positions from jewelry sales to pharmacy technician and pharmacy benefits specialist, all while maintaining a jewelry bench at home. This enabled her to do custom work and also create jewelry for T’s art fair clients while her 2 children were young. As they grew older and the business grew, she began working full time at the store. As an October baby, Alice’s favorite stone is opal, and she loves to work with 18 karat gold. She loves fabricating jewelry and gets great satisfaction from seeing a beautiful finished piece, and the joy that it brings a client. She is honored to be a part of the creation of jewelry that can become family heirlooms, just don’t look too closely at her fingers.
"I heard great things about T Lee Custom and stopped in with my husband. I fell in love with this ring. My husband went back and surprised me with it on my birthday! I love it!"
"We wanted our wedding rings to be a special symbol of our love and commitment to each other. That's why we wanted them designed here. It means so much to me to have my wife's finger print on the inside of my ring and she loves how her ring shows the concept of weaving our lives together."
-Will and Rachel
"I met with Soren to design a ring that means so much to me. The milestone in my life that this ring symbolizes couldn't have been realized with a better daily reminder. I cherish this heirloom that means so much more than the gold, sapphire, and diamonds it's made of."
Pagosa Spring, CO
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509 1/2 First Avenue NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Sunday: Closed, Gem Hunting
Monday: Closed, Gem Hunting
Tuesday-Friday: 10 am - 5 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 2 pm
1/1/20: Saturday by appointment only