Jeweler Nick Lundeen's Complicated Simplicity

Jeweler Nick Lundeen's Complicated Simplicity

Nick Lundeen working

Lundeen taking the blowtorch to a band in his Brooklyn studio.

Yoann Stoeckel

Nick Lundeen has a special appreciation for jewelry’s lasting importance. “My grandfather was a jeweler, and had a jewelry store in Minneapolis, and now my mom has a jewelry store in Minneapolis,” Lundeen says. “When I first started making jewelry, I was doing a lot of shows, and people would come in and had my grandfather’s jewelry. They would show it to me, and they’d been wearing it for 30 years. It was an honor to see that.”

It is no surprise, then, that Lundeen, now 32 years old and based out of Brooklyn, makes work designed to endure the rigors of time and the peculiarities of shifting taste. Lundeen makes a variety of mostly metal wares – earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings – but he hews to a preference for elegance and simplicity over needless displays of virtuosity. A pair of earrings takes the form of plain metal bars, carefully textured; a necklace has just a bend where others might have a pendant, highlighting the beauty inherent to the material. When he works with a diamond or semi-rare stone, Lundeen prefers a setting that accentuates the stone’s beauty – rather than competes with it.

“I try to find a stone that’s unique and build around that,” Lundeen says. “If that means that the setting or the band is a simpler design to show off that, that’s what I really like.” For one ring featuring a green tourmaline stone, for example, he fashioned a sleek sterling silver band and a gold, teardrop-shaped setting that accentuated the central hue without detracting from it. Lundeen notes that what looks easy rarely is. “Simplicity can be complicated,” he says. “Sometimes it’s easy to go over the top, to just continue adding more. Limiting yourself in a certain way can be very difficult.”

The end result of this approach is a catalogue of work that fits any sensibility and any era. Lundeen has a special fondness for the custom engagement and wedding rings he makes – pieces that become a part of someone’s life and heirlooms for generations to come. “That part of the job is really important and fulfilling to me. Sometimes I get pieces that are recycling their grandparents’ stones. To see that come to form and have them have something that they really love and wear, that they can give to someone, it’s just a great feeling.”