Calling Veberod a hidden gem might come across as cheeky if it weren’t such an apt description of the shop. Much like the inventory they carry, Veberod Gem Gallery has a multitude of facets—from metalsmithing classes to lapidary equipment, custom jewelry design to in-house repairs—each of which make this local, second-generation family business shine.
“Not a lot of people know we’re here,” Jen Rudie says. “People come in and they fall in love with us.” Some folks wander in after an appointment or errand near Ridgedale Center. Others have heard from word-of-mouth or found a class online. For Rudie, it was comprehensive metalwork classes that brought her to Veberod: “My history is that I started as a customer and a student” in 2007.
Veberod is one of the few places in the Twin Cities to offer a wide range of jewelers’ arts classes. Rudie—who formerly taught fine silver fusing and metal clay classes—was looking for programs to hone her own skills. “That’s when I really got connected down here,” she says. Many histories with Veberod start like this—a connection made years ago and a bond that’s been growing ever since.
During my visit, people were buying supplies before a class or stocking up on strands of semiprecious beads. At my Half Persian metal weaving class later that night, I see many of the same folks.
Rudie, who takes the class with me, has begun retaking classes after a substantial hiatus. “She had to ‘mom’ pretty hardcore for ten years,” Tai Salisbury, a goldsmith and lead instructor, says with a laugh. Salisbury had kept Rudie in the back of her mind as a good employee, so when the job offer came, “I said, ‘That’s like, my dream,’” Rudie recalls.
Upon entering the shop for the first time, I’m met by an arc of display cases, the jewelry inside sorted by gemstone.
The gemstone features have spanned everything from pink tourmaline to Alexandrite, and the display cases give you an excellent idea of the possibilities for custom work. “We do a tremendous amount of straight-up custom jewelry,” Salisbury says. “It can start with someone coming in with an idea in mind, or it can come in as, ‘I want a custom engagement ring and I have no idea what I want.’”
She explains that for daily wear jewelry like wedding and engagement rings, durability is a large part of the equation. “We generally shoot for sapphires or rubies, which have a hardness of 9 and are going to be your best-wearing colored gemstones.” She tells me many people are surprised by Veberod’s rainbow array of loose sapphires. Folks aren’t always aware that gemstones come in a variety of shades and colors aside from their trademark hues.
“I’m working on a wedding ring right now where he had—in the back of his mind—a black opal,” Salisbury says. Opals, while stunning, are notoriously fragile. The customer was open to ideas, and together they landed on a happy medium. “We found a really amazing dusky purple sapphire and I’m doing some inlays on the side of fire agate, which has some opalescent qualities and wears harder.”
“I think a lot of people don’t necessarily know we do the custom work,” Rudie says. Stone selection is another starting point and, thanks to owner Brad Anderson’s longstanding relationships in the international gemstone market, the selection of colored gemstones is astounding.
“When it comes to engagement rings and wedding rings, colored gemstones are becoming really popular,” Rudie says. The rapid rise of this trend may reflect consumers' knowledge of some of the more unsavory practices of the diamond trade.
“I don’t want to think that anybody else got hurt or abused in any way because of the diamond I’m wearing,” says Sheryl Hill, a longtime customer. Hill, who likes the look of diamonds but not the history behind them, came to Anderson with her dilemma. “He gave me a lab-produced—more beautiful than a diamond—moissanite.” Under the shop lights, her ring is undeniably dazzling. “And he will never make two of them alike.”