Michael Brunkhorst has been creating custom jewelry for over 40 years. His creative interests were piqued as a student at Waldwick High School, where he made a point of fitting every art class possible into his schedule. Having had the privilege of working with three European masters over the years, Mike has gleaned an array of classic European techniques from their tutelage, and he now brings those exceptional talents to a new position at Danson Jewelers.
Danson’s new and innovative store concept highlights Mike’s distinctive expertise. “People can come in and watch Mike at work,” says owner, Jack Nazy. “We wanted to be able to show customers that we’re different because we do everything here on site. We also wanted to cultivate an appreciation of the detail required with this type of work. This is something very unique to us. I don’t believe anyone else in Bergen County is doing this. Usually, custom work and repairs are sent out of the store. Now, we are able to do all of it here and the client can oversee the entire process.”
The process itself is something to see. Mike first begins with drawings and a CAD design which is transformed into a wax model. The model is used to cast the metal, and every piece is completely hand-finished.
Repairs are also completed on-site and Mike handles everything from tightening stones to sizing rings and repairing broken pieces. A state-of-the-art laser machine allows for special repairs that require welding near sensitive stones. The equipment is extremely target-specific and allows for repairs without having to remove the stone prior.
“Many people bring in heirloom stones, to redesign them into something current and wearable,” says Mike. “One of the most popular redesigned styles right now is the halo ring. This design focus adds a “halo” of small diamonds around an original stone. The great thing about working with us to design your own custom piece is that we can customize both the look and the price point.”
Marketing director Fiorella Landeo and several other employees have recently joined the Danson team from another local store, and all share the same high standards and sense of family. “Our customers recognize the sentimental story of their jewelry,” says Fiorella, who keeps the staff current on market trends in the business.
“Families are proud to pass along fine jewelry to the younger folks when they get engaged, so they can transform those stones into a modern design that they can someday pass along themselves,” says Jack. “Real jewelry is meant to be seen across the room, and that’s what Mike creates--pieces with substance.”
As we discuss Danson Jewelry's future plans for expansion into Hackensack, Jack gives Mike a nod: “Look at him. A few minutes ago, he had a green piece of wax in his hand. Now it’s a ring!”