Jewellery Designer Brad Leith has an Eye for the Extraordinary

Travel treasure discoveries become modern accessories

  • Dec. 13, 2018 5:00 p.m.

Brad Leith at the entrance to his shop Impeccable Jewellery. Don Denton photography

– Story by Sean McIntyre

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Asked about his pastimes, Brad Leith speaks of hobbies in quotation marks. It’s inevitable, really, for someone who logs about 75,000 kilometres of air miles annually.

“My ‘hobbies’ are associated with my day job,” says Brad, the designer at Duncan’s Impeccable Jewellery. “The process of our unique creations requires me to travel substantially and allows me to see locations most ‘tourists’ would never venture to.”

Whereas many people preserve souvenirs from distant and exotic locales on shelves or walls in their homes, Bard’s treasures are displayed at Impeccable Jewellery’s downtown Duncan showroom. Step into the quaint Craig Street boutique to behold 70-million-year-old fossils or shards of volcanic rock that spewed through space following an eruption on the moon. In one display case are the remnants of a meteorite that collided into Eastern Europe nearly 15 million years ago. The emerald green rock was discovered in Bohemia (modern day Czech Republic) during the mid 18th century and has since become a valued stone among jewellery makers because of its distinctive translucence.

Brad’s specimens are artfully arranged into eye-catching pendants, breathtaking necklaces and beautifully subtle earnings.

Nearby is a find Brad discovered during a tour of European auction houses. Roman glass was commonly used for ceremonial and decorative purposes across much of Europe in ancient times. When Brad happened upon a lot that included intact pieces and an assortment of broken artifacts, he couldn’t resist placing a bid. He won, and the result is an historic treasure repurposed as stylishly modern accessories that conjure the earliest days of civilization.

“My concept is that there aren’t many items that can’t be made into incredible and impeccable jewellery, and I find these items wherever I travel,” he says.

Some discoveries emerge from extensive research, others are the product of chance. With time to spare between trade shows in Hong Kong and Bangkok, Brad once headed for Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, one of the world’s largest religious monuments. While travelling to his destination through northeastern Thailand, he found himself with a long wait for his next bus in a dusty and congested border town. He headed to a nearby beach, where he met an awe-inspiring sight.

“I was literally the only person on that beach,” he recalls. “I walked its entire length, and the shells that I was pulling off the beach were magnificent. I’ve never seen shells in such abundance that were so magnificently beautiful.”

Each of the shells contained a distinct collection of naturally formed crystals unlike anything he’d seen before.

After Brad crossed into Cambodia and toured the sprawling temple complex at Angkor Wat, he found even more glorious artifacts to behold. It’s in places such as this, he says, amid timeless ruins and inspiring early architecture, that creativity emerges.

“When I see these monuments of civilization, they give me the inspiration to fuel our design approach,” he says. “As a designer, you change as you have that emotional feeling.”

Brad hasn’t always been an avid treasure hunter and globetrotting gem finder, but the Southern Ontario native has been travelling for much of his professional life. Prior to pursuing his creative tendencies, he worked as a jewellery wholesaler. He’d travel across the country, from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland and back, twice a year, selling products to 300 stores.

Much of his time was spent supplying jewellers with a consistent and predictable product. While the quality was certainly consistent, Brad found little excitement in the homogeneity of the products he supplied. Electing to taking the giant leap into jewellery design about 20 years ago, he hasn’t looked back.

With a fondness for Impressionism, Brad is drawn to subtle variations in colour. In a sense, every stone he selects will speak to him through its distinctive hue. His task is to work with the stone’s innate expression as he strives to create a masterpiece unlike any he has made before.

“I’ve always tried to make the stone the star,” he says. “I think that when you make the designer the star, you often get something that no one would wear. To me, what we design is wearable art. For us, to see the faces of people when we finish or recondition a product is what it’s all about. It’s always a thrill for me.”

Brad Leith shows off rings in his shop Impeccable Jewellery. Don Denton photography

The shop in downtown Duncan has become the crowning achievement in a journey to make pieces that marry unique stones, inspired design and a craftsman’s eye for quality.

“We design every piece, we pick every stone, import it and sell it. Lots of people do one of these or maybe even two, but very few do the whole process,” he says. “We do just about everything, and we do things that are different. We distinguish it from mass-produced product and get the opportunity to achieve some really interesting results.”

Brad’s design work is complemented by custom projects for clients in addition to restoration and repair services undertaken at the downtown location, where Impeccable Jewellery has grown to become a familiar landmark in a vibrant downtown core that values friendliness and service.

Brad says he’s thrilled to be part of downtown Duncan’s remarkable resurgence as a prime shopping destination. In a competitive marketplace, where small-town downtowns are in a constant battle with generic big box stores, Leith says, a personal touch and attention to detail is what has helped Duncan’s downtown thrive.

“You have to get off the highway to get here, and I think that’s why this downtown has preserved a little of the old feeling,” he says. “This is the best downtown business association that I’ve ever been involved with. They work very hard at making the downtown successful. I think it’s a testament to them and a testament to the merchants that are down here. We all have the same mentality — we emphasize service over anything else.”

You can see more about Brad and Impeccable Jewellery here.

Fashion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As the snow and ice returns to Salmon Arm, the city to open the Shaw Centre to walkers. (File photo)
Salmon Arm’s Shaw Centre to soon open its doors to walkers

Request to open indoor arena to walkers was turned down

English Creek, southeast of Three Valley Gap, has become a popular bouldering destination. (William Eaton photo)
Column: English Creek now a bouldering destination

Terrain offers 33 climbing routes in six bouldering areas

Pringles.
Morning Start: The inventor of the Pringles can is now buried in one

Your morning start for Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020

RCMP responded to a single-vehicle collision on Highway 1 east of Salmon Arm early Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (File photo)
Salmon Arm man killed in collision on Highway 1

RCMP say slippery road conditions contributing factor behind collision

Salmon Arm RCMP responded to a seven-vehicle chain reaction collision early Monday morning, Oct. 26. (File photo)
One person injured in seven-vehicle chain-reaction collision in Salmon Arm

Snow packed to ice, speed contributing factors behind collisions

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This is one of those photographs that has staff at the Salmon Arm Museum archives. On the back of the image, the photographer wrote, “Eagle Harbour on the North Shore. Tolley thinks there should be some blue bass down there.” Is he or she referring to Eagle Harbour in North Vancouver? And who is Tolley? He also sent a postcard from Banff. How did he know Salmon Arm’s Kew family? Let us know if you know Tolley! Reach us at the archives@salmonarmmuseum.org. Image courtesy the Archives at R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum.
Shuswap history in pictures: Eagle harbour?

Message on back of photo a mystery for museum staff

The ‘new normal’ for hockey parents in Chilliwack and elsewhere in B.C., watching their kids from outside of the arena due to COVID-19 protocols. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey parents petition to be let back in the arena

Refused access due to pandemic protocols, parents are now applying pressure to loosen the rules

The Remembrance Day Ceremony at Kal Tire Place will not take place this year due to COVID-19. (Morning Star file photo)
Remembrance Day closed to public in North Okanagan

Traditional events cannot take place under current health rules

Photo courtesy of DriveBC twitter.
Vehicle incident on Highway 1 west of Field

According to DriveBC, crews are en route to a scene just west of Field along Hwy 1

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of B.C. girl, 7, by accused mother was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media file)
Crime spree ends with foot race through downtown Vernon

Alberta man arrested after dining and dashing, crashing car into police cruisers

Most Read