WRITTEN BY MATT DRISCOLL
For the past 25 years, Muskoka Jewellery Design has been a vital component of the Huntsville business community and an artistic reflection of Muskoka’s unique geography.
The proud owner and jewellery designer Michael Reijnen.
Muskoka Jewellery Design was created by Dutch-born jeweller Joseph Reijnen in 1995 at the site of the former Empire Hotel, in Huntsville. Joseph studied jewellery design in Germany before moving to Canada in 1976. The family moved permanently to Muskoka in 1995 and opened the original location that year. In 2006, they made themove to their current home at 68 Main Street East, a building that had previously been home to a different jewellery store since the early 1900s.
Muskoka Jewellery Design officially became a family business when Joseph’s son Michael Reijnen joined in 2004. Michael hadn’t always intended to follow his current path, and had previously moved to Calgary to study journalism.
The Vista Bangle bracelet wraps the beauty of the Muskoka around your wrist. This piece comes in an average bangle size, but can be sized to fit if necessary.
“I decided that journalism wasn’t the path for me, and I needed a new one,” says Michael. “As it happened, my parents found use for me at the shop. Over the years I learned from my dad to work at the bench, doing repairs and creating pieces to sell in the gallery.”
In 2016, Michael’s parents decided to retire and he purchased the business from them. The intricate jewellery work done at the shop is a direct reflection of the Muskoka landscape, known for its deep lakes, granite outcroppings and windswept pines. Michael says the fact that everything is designed and crafted in-house resonates with their clientele.
Sterling Muskoka Chair pendant. Sit back. Relax. Enjoy. Pendant is approx. 22mm long X 20mm wide. Pictured on a curb link chain.
“I think they appreciate knowing where their piece was made, and it gives them somewhat of a story or memory to align with their purchase,” says Michael. “Although the Muskoka line is a very popular choice, we do have many one-of-a-kind pieces that we make, and we have several other pieces in our line-up of everyday sterling jewellery that are not Muskoka themed.”
Michael says it isn’t just the natural environment that influences their work, but also the cultural environment of Huntsville and the broader Muskoka arts scene. Whether it’s live entertainment at the Algonquin Theatre, arts festivals like Nuit Blanche or the various artist studio tours, Michael says they feel part of a vibrant local scene.
“I think the arts are a key component of our community. The arts have, through time, brought people together through shared catharsis, and I don’t see that changing any time soon,” he says. “We’re just happy to be part of a community that embraces it so willingly.”
The iconic pine tree, weathered by the elements and the passing of time. (Approx. 2.5 cm in diameter)
The arts, in general, have taken a serious financial hit during the COVID-19 crisis, but Michael says Muskoka Jewellery has been able to pivot their business model and make the changes necessary.
“It’s been difficult times for everyone and we’re no exception,” he says. “At first it felt very daunting, but we pushed through, made some changes to our website, offered curbside pickup, and just did what we could to adapt to the unknown. Any business that is closed for two months is going to feel the burden. We’re just appreciative that we had a good situation going into it, and with some careful planning and well thought out decisions, we’re ready to emerge strong and ready for business.”
Sterling Riverbend Ring. 15mm wide, tapers to the back.
While COVID-19 is likely to result in permanent changes across the retail landscape, Michael says Muskoka Jewellery Design is in a unique position to move forward. “We spend a great deal of time trying to make sure that the work we bring in from other artists is in the same vein – quality jewellery from North America or Europe,” he says. “Some people that have seasonal cottages up here visit every summer and we have built a relationship and a rapport with them. Overall, I think it’s very important in this business climate to find your niche, and separate yourself from others.”
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF MUSKOKA JEWELLERY DESIGN
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