You may not yet heard of Rd Jewelry Studio. However if you live on the North Shore chances are you know someone who owns a piece of jewelry created by this talented custom designer. As a second generation jeweler, Rob Dufault has spent the past 25 years designing and expertly execution one-of-a-kind creations here on the North Shore. For the last 10 years, he has quietly served his clientele by appointment, right here in Lake Bluff.
In 1972, a college student called his brother in hopes that he could prove to his dorm RA that he wouldn't be having a plumber's torch melting metal in his dorm room ever again and in doing so not be expelled from school. Who could of imagined that that moment would have led to all this? That moment led to "Uncle Ron" bringing all his "rock hound things" to his brothers garage. The rock hounding had started years before as the brothers were moved from continent to continent as their father was transferred while in the Army. For some extra spending money Ron would take a stone he had cut and fashion it into a Sterling silver pendant or ring. Occasionally, his big brother would peer over his shoulder making sure the garage wouldn't be going up in flames. As time passed Ron's brother decided it might be fun to try his hand at bending and soldering some spare bits of silver left on the workbench. Things went well and soon a spare stone left out was also procured. A Sterling and Turquoise ring was the result. Upon completion, that ring "mysteriously" appeared on the workbench one day when Ron was coming over. But instead, shortly after Ron arrived he abruptly left without comment, and the ring was gone! Some hours later there was knocking on the older brothers front door. Not having expected visitors he peered thru the peep hole to see quite the unexpected sight. Two twenty dollar bills being held up in front of the door. Uncle Ron had sold the ring and after accounting for the materials and taking a commission that was his brother Bob's portion. It didn't take long for Bob to decide he liked how that worked out. Radco was born. Soon upwards of 30 college kids where coming and going from that one car garage at all hours working piecework making jewelry and getting paid on the spot. The pieces where sold as fast as they could be made. This is where I first was exposed to my craft. Soon after my brother was born my mother decided the constant traffic had to be dealt with and the business moved to a more suitable location. At age 6 I wanted to get in on the action too, and was taught to make wax patterns using rubber molds. Steadily that business grew and for a few years monthly 25-40 pounds of silver was cast and set with turquoise, coral, fire agate and the other popular stones in southwestern jewelry at the time. In the late 70's, the company was bought out and we moved to the Chicago area. While My father (Bob) tried other fields of work (partially because of the no compete clause) he couldn't stay away from jewelry. He soon started a wholesale repair shop and formally trained with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) . and when the no compete ran out opened a retail jewelry store in Lincolnshire. I was always interested in what was happening and tried to get involved as much as I could. Throughout high school I worked nights and weekends at the family store making wax patterns, prepping and rough finishing castings, engraving, stone cutting where my primary tasks in the shop. As my skills grew and I spent more time with customers working out custom projects I began planning with the customers at the design stages of custom jobs. While in college I began my formal jewelry training in the summers with the GIA. Where I studied under Craig Cartucian. After completing all available jewelry arts courses and many hours internship and grooming. My mentor discussed continued training in Carlsbad Ca. and being a traveling instructor by a year from then. As exciting as it sounded the thought of traveling 280+ days a year was a daunting prospect for a 21yr old. The decision to stay and continue full time at the family store was made. The next 15 yrs Rob worked along side is father where he became the shop's primary craftsman. Rob even took on 2 apprentices during this time. Unfortunately his parents divorced and in 2003 Rob's father took ill and was not able to return. In 2004, Rob closed the family retail store and moved his jewelry operations to Lake Bluff. From there, he continued as an appointment only operation, discreetly serving his clientele. This allowed the new father of 2 to also continue to embrace his inner geek. In 2004, Rob was contracted to form the new "back bone" for a digital division for a wholesale manufacturing business where he developed and launched one of the earliest jewelry 3d printing service bureau's in the country. He continues his consulting on and beta testing of some the newest 3d technologies both hardware and software and the translations necessary to transition the traditional jewelry making methods to incorporate these exciting advancements in a meaningful and productive way. As Rob watched some of the technologies start to mature he found he was missing the faster pace of the retail experience. After 10 years as a private client operation, in 2013, he has moved into the building next door. As of this 2014 holiday Season has opened his retail,street front, design studio.