Located at the prominent Executive Pavillion at 90 Grove Street in Ridgefield is Cardinal Gems, a custom design jewelry business headed by an educated and experienced entrepreneur with a true eye for style.
Kevin Fournie started out as a business major at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. After gemology caught his interest, he switched to Art with a focus on metal design. Learning the ins and outs of how a jewelry business worked from his friend’s father’s jewelry business, Fournie became immersed in the design process, while getting his gemology degree in New York City.
“That’s where I came to love colored stones which has shaped how I do things,” Fournie said of his studies. From there, he began working for a high-end jewelry company called Grant Peacock, unknowingly with a (literal) Ridgefield neighbor. “I worked with her for five years and she taught me how I wanted to conduct my own business,” Fournie said. "She had been considering retirement, so it was the ultimate kick in the butt I needed to start my own business."
Now operating his personal serviced jewelry business as a customer-focused jewelry firm, the jewelry designer specializes in custom design and gemstones, stating “The stones themselves are definitely my area of expertise.” If someone wants to choose the shape they want from a set of rough stones that Fournie has in stock, the easiest way to go about that is sourcing the stone first and then building everything around it. “I give them everything they need to make an informed decision they will be pleased with for years," he said. "It makes the process fun, collaborative, and completely customizable.”
When Fournie began designing engagement rings, he realized how much couples love and appreciate creating custom jewelry. “When a couple is wanting to create a custom piece of jewelry, they want someone to work with them hand in hand on something they will have forever,” Fournie said. “I love helping them create custom pieces because it’s so much more special."
He mentions opening Cardinal Gems has given him the opportunity to spend more time with his family, a big reason why he didn’t want a traditional retail store. His niche is custom designed pieces.
His values are aligned with his clients, as he makes it “as easy as possible” to accommodate them, meeting them at their office, home, after work hours or on weekends. “Whatever they need,” Fournie said. “They’re welcome to bring their kids to my studio, I’m flexible for anyone.”
That family friendly aspect is one of Ridgefield’s biggest perks, whereas Fournie has felt the Ridgefield charm of being part of the community — sponsoring events, coaching his kids’ soccer games, and helping out at book fairs at school.
In addition to custom rings, Fournie also designs custom bracelets, necklaces and earrings, either starting from scratch or repurposing old pieces of jewelry. “People are buying jewelry to celebrate the birth of a child, so I’ll work with a husband looking to create a necklace with a pink or blue stone in it for his wife,” he cites as an example.
As for redesigns, he’ll help someone repurpose their grandmother’s brooch, for example, making it into a necklace or taking the stones out to create a grandiose ring. “You’re giving people wearable jewelry they can wear every day and that has built-in sentimental value and special meaning to it,” Fournie said. “I love redesign for that reason.”
“You’re giving people wearable jewelry they can wear every day and that has built-in sentimental value and special meaning to it...I love redesign for that reason.”