Fashion-able: Toronto-based jewellery designers

With spring in the air and more skin-bearing outfits being worn on the regular, we think it’s the perfect time to showcase the jewels we’ve been coveting all winter. From dainty rings to bold statement necklaces, these are a few of our favourite pieces and collections, all by amazing Canadian designers.

Chloe Come Parris
Since checking out their collection at World MasterCard Fashion Week, we’ve been in lust with their gorgeous jewels. A mix of custom hardware combined with high quality stones makes every CCP piece enviable for any occasion.

Fashion forward and trend setting are definitely words we would use to describe this self-taught jewellery designer. Carried in over 100 boutiques and retailers, Jenny Bird’s line has been steadily gaining success worldwide. We are currently loving the combination of wood, gold and bright colours in her new tribal-inspired jewels. These are just a few of the pieces we’re adding to our jewellery boxes this summer:

Michelle Ross
With such unique and intricate designs, you are sure to get compliments every time you wear one of Michelle Ross’ bold pieces. While simple and subtle pieces are available, it’s her chunky, hardware-heavy pieces that keep us going back for more. 

Victoria Yez
We are currently loving the combination of feminine, masculine and a little punk in Alberta-born Victoria Yez’s “bullet collection”. Available at Made You Look, the pearls and dainty chains are a lovely and unexpected contrast to the heavy gold bullet metal, making these jewels truly different.

This simple yet sophisticated handmade jewellery collection is perfect for long, sunshine-y days. Mixing 18K gold, sterling silver, leather, wood, diamonds and semi-precious stones, these jewels are perfect for everyday wear, but can also add a sparkly, elegant touch to any dress.

Maryam Keyhani

Self-trained jewellery designer Maryam Keyhani’s pieces are all works of art. Previously a painter, the Tehran-born, Toronto-raised designer uses a variety of mediums to create her pieces, including feathers, gold chains and unique textiles. Swoon. 


Fave 5: Bike joints

With the horror of winter firmly behind us, it’s time to break out our favourite steed – the bicycle. Despite some bureaucrats’ best efforts, Toronto and her citizens continue to become one of the most bike-positive cities in North America. We are firm believers of “safety first”, so before getting back on the road, make sure to get a tune-up at one of our favourite spots. A bike neophyte? You’re also in luck; most of these joints sell bikes too. 

Hoopdriver Bicycles
1073 College St.

The staff at this College St. spot are happy to try and do on-the-spot diagnoses and estimates, and their mechanical skill services range from small adjustments to major overhauls. Found an old frame in your parents’ basement? Come here and chat about a custom build. They’re also authorized dealers of KHS, Opus, IRO, Steelwool and Soma bicycles, along with some rad accessories from Brooks England. But our favourite feature is their location – conveniently located beside The Common, you can grab a coffee while waiting for your bike to be ready. 

80 Geary Ave.

Owner Val is a former BMX bike racer with an obsession with restoring old and vintage bike frames. You won’t find any new bikes here, but his colection of hand-selected, professionally assembled bikes is worth a look, not to mention some of the crazy vintage bikes in his personal collection. They also do tune-ups (often with free Freezies!), custom builds and sell a variety of longboards and skateboards. During the off-season, Riders, located at the corner of Dupont and Dovercourt, focuses on its other passion – snowboarding.

They fix kids’ bikes too!
1292 Bloor St. W.

Bike Pirates is the place for cyclists with a DIY streak. This volunteer-run organization won’t fix your bike for you, but they will teach you how to fix it yourself. Their goal is to empower cyclists and make bikes more accessible. They offer drop-in times when you can come by to learn bicycle maintenance, work on your own bike with their tools or build a new bicycle from scratch. They sell new and used parts on-site, as well as fully refurbished used bicycles. Understanding that bike maintenance can be intimidating, Bike Pirates offers Trans- and Women-Only hours on Sundays. 

Two locations: 1204 Bloor St. W., 517 Bloor St. W.
416.533.4481 and 416.533.4225

Sweet Pete’s caters to the “sweet spot” of Toronto bike users. Neither high nor low end, their offerings of new bikes (no used) tend to range between $600 and 750. Each location offers a full-service garage, hosting over a dozen well-trained technicians with a genuine passion for cycling. Their appointment system guarantees that you won’t be stuck without your bike for longer than 24 hours. Reasonable rates and outstanding staff sweeten Pete’s appeal, but we adore as President of the Bicycle Trade Association, owner Pete tirelessly campaigns the government to enact tax breaks for cyclists. 

So many bikes, so little time to ride.
Two locations: 309 Augusta Ave., 779 Queen St. W.
416.966.2453 and 647.352.6550

The original Bikes on Wheels location is a Kensington Market stalwart, having been in operation for close to 20 years. At both locations you’ll find knowledgeable staff and a great selection of bikes, including bikes from Norco, Fuji, Marinoni and Linus. A hub for both commuters and couriers, Bikes on Wheels recently expanded beyond its retail walls to include a race team and a trick team. 

Queen St. location.

Our client Made You Look recently sent us images of a brand new piece available in store – this very cool trouser cuff by Tweek. Perfect for stylishly saving your pants from catching in the chain. Brilliant.

This cool cuff can be yours for $38 – cheaper than a new pair of Seven’s to replace your torn ones. 

City Living: Made You Look celebrates 10 years

Nothing is more inspiring to us than someone who’s followed their dreams and taken the risky plunge into entrepreneurship, especially in the notoriously tough fashion business. We’re especially excited when one of these brave bunch is female, and a client of ours. 

Enter Sarah Hamel. Tomorrow, Hamel’s great jewellery design and retail business, Made You Look, celebrates a decade of open doors. Hamel started her business fresh out of George Brown College’s jewellery arts program. She wanted to create a space where fellow designers could create without having to sacrifice their aesthetic because they no longer had access to the pricey materials and equipment required to work with metals and precious gems.

10 years later, the result is two booming retail locations in hip Parkdale, one of which also functions as the design space where hundreds of Toronto’s best-loved jewellery designers create, and have created, their pieces.

Made You Look offers an awesome array of accessory choices – they can create something custom and amazing from diamonds and gold, or you can pick up a cute, faux bauble to wear out with your friends. 

The very cute Tiny Ties ($30) caused a splash when first launched, and are still available at the south side store (1273 Queen St. W.)

One of our favourite pieces at the store are the Army Man Cufflinks, which feature replicas of the famous green plastic toys, in various poses (lying down with a gun, throwing a grenade, etc.). They are a cheeky gift for the man-boy in your life, and add a little pizazz to a French-cuffed shirt. 

These are awesome. Made by Kathryn Dieroff ($120).

To celebrate her success, Hamel is throwing an anniversary party at both retail locations tomorrow night, including live graffiti art by Qwest, mind tricks from Danny Proctor, food from the El Gastronomo Vagabundo food truck, and for the first time ever, 10% off any purchase made that evening, through Sunday, December 4. Members of the public are welcome, but please RSVP here to get on the guest list.

City Living: Outdoor Shopping

There’s nothing worse than being holed up in a shopping mall during the summer. The freezing air conditioning, coupled with the hordes of teenagers roaming around makes the entire experience feel like one of Dante‘s levels of purgatory. The solution? Not shopping less (heck no), but to take your shopping outdoors.

Here are some of our favourite spots to for a little retail therapy en plein air

St. Lawrence Antique Market

An antiquing staple in Toronto, the St. Lawrence Antique Market runs every Sunday from dawn to 5 p.m. Stalls are both indoors and outdoors, with a variety of vendors guaranteeing hours of browsing fun. Like most antique markets, going early promises great finds but end-of-day is when vendors are willing to haggle over price.

Made You Look Vendors Market

The amazing Sarah Hamel, owner of Made You Look

Parkdale pioneer Made You Look launched their Vendors Market on June 4 in collaboration with several other local businesses, including ShopGirls Gallery Boutique, The Well of Alternative Medicine, and Rustic Cosmo Cafe, as well as residents of the ‘hood. Running every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., this quirky market offers everything from handmade jewellery and vintage clothing to homemade jam and $1-per-minute massages. 

Check out the eclectic Parkdale ‘hood  this summer – you just might be surprised at the cool pieces you can pick up.

Bay Adelaide Farmer’s Market

The Bay Adelaide Centre is generally known for being part of the concrete jungle, not for fresh, local produce. All that has changed with the introduction of a lunchtime farmer’s market in Arnell Plaza (just outside of the Bay Adelaide Centre). 

Running every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. until September 15, this market offers local produce, great lunches and garden plants. Stop by this market and brighten up your day with some colourful fresh fruits and veggies.

Wax On! Vinyl Record Sale

The fourth floor’s own Natalie and her boyfriend recently inherited nearly 4,000 records (exact number is still unknown) through a Storage Wars-type acquisition. With a teeny outdoor space (and similarly small apartment), they need to unload these quickly; hence, the Wax On! Vinyl Record Sale

This Sunday, July 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., stop by the front yard at 1045 College Street and browse through hundreds of records for about $5-10 each. Offerings focus mainly on hip hop and R&B, with a few random gems mixed in for good luck.

What are your favourite outdoor shopping spots in Toronto? Tweet us @rockitpromo.

Fashion-able: Custom wedding jewellery

‘Tis the season for I do’s. How can you be original?
Creating custom wedding jewellery is the ultimate in creative romance. The bonus? Going this route may also save you money. Working directly with a designer and raw materials eliminates some of the cost associated with traditional jewellery retailers. What better way to celebrate love than with a pair of rings crafted by the lovebirds themselves?

Geoff & Robin, courtesy of Trina Koster photography
At Made You Look Jewellery Studio and Gallery, various Toronto-based designers create beautiful custom pieces every day. To get started, head down to 1338 Queen Street West to flip through various designer’s portfolios and pick the artist you love best. Here are some tips:

Choose a designer whose concepts really speak to you – even if it isn’t wedding jewellery, a designer’s aesthetic will come through in any piece. The designer will work with your budget and ideas, give you options for materials (diamonds, gold platinum – amazing!) and start drawing. They’ll make a wax mold to make sure it’s perfect before casting.

A great way to have your “something old” is to remake or repair an heirloom piece of jewellery that’s at the back of your jewellery box. Grandma’s forgotten diamonds can be worked into a lovely new ring, or Mom’s old broken pearl necklace into a spectacular bracelet.
There are also made-to-order options for the wedding party. Made You Look designers can create fascinators, necklaces, cuff links or tie tacks. A custom piece of jewellery would make a beautiful, personal thank-you gift for your bridesmaids or groomsmen.
Whichever route you take, a wedding should be unique, personal and reflect the people being wed (and consider whoever is footing the bill). Designing your very own rings, or special gifts for your wedding party, expresses your once-in-a-lifetime love, day after day.

Our team member Abigail is celebrating her big day in 2011. We’re all very excited for her. Congratulations, Abby!

Black diamond, wide band with diamonds and yellow sapphire rings: Karen Macrae
Fingerprint cuff links: Deborah Lavery