Kendra Renee's Double Pour Casting Workshop gives Oakland couples a hands on way to craft their dream rings
Kendra Renee is a metalsmith in Oakland who truly brings couples’ stories to life through their wedding bands by involving them in significant elements of the ring-making process, from collecting the raw materials to pouring the metal in the cast, creating the actual ring — talk about an awesome date night! Kendra says, “It’s kind of magical.” Recently one of her clients brought in gold nuggets that her grandfather had once been paid in for his work as a dentist. With Kendra, the client alloyed them and melted them into her wedding set so she will always have a little piece of family history with her. “People love to see the process behind the scenes — they literally see their ring take shape and become a part of its story.”
Kendra Renee rings are not only meaningful, they are stunningly professional because Kendra creates the design, carves the wax model for the ring, and does all of the hand-finishing and polishing. Couples have the option to be as involved with the process as they would like, but it’s not mandatory. If you are a couple who is looking for an ethical jeweler to help infuse your unique love story into your wedding jewelry, Kendra Renee is the indie ringmaker you’ve been dreaming of. Magic!
We at Catalyst find the idea of a Bay-Area jeweler’s life quite romantic, so we were eager to learn more about Kendra. We asked her for a behind-the-scenes view of a day in her life. She walked us through her morning, self care routine, and how she involves couples in the studio at her Double Pour Casting Workshops.
She assures us that it’s not all molten gold and champagne, reminding us that running a one-woman business is hard work: “There are a lot of things I have to do to run my business that sadly don’t involve fire, metal and diamonds. Things like bookkeeping, working on my branding, and responding to emails are all morning activities that I tackle cozied up with coffee, a laptop, and very comfy pants. When I’ve cleared out my daily queue of computer work, I clean up for the day and head out to my studio to play.”
We asked what kinds of preparations are necessary before clients come in to cast their rings and toast with champagne at the Double Pour Casting Workshops, and it turns out, a lot.
“The Double Pour workshop is a behind-the-scenes experience for couples who have already decided they want me to make their wedding bands. Prior to the workshop we’ve met in person and decided on the size, material, and style of their wedding bands. I’ve created the hand-carved original wax models that will become their wedding rings. Those models are given to Jena, my casting artist (another solo-business woman!), who has taken them, covered them in a special kind of jewelry plaster to create a one-time-use mold, and fired them in the kiln overnight. By the time my couples meet me at her studio, the wax model has melted out of the plaster, and the rings exist only as a void into which the molten gold will be poured.” Woah.
The biggest highlight is when you hold your partner's ring for the first time.
The workshop provides a rich learning experience for the couples because most people outside of the jewelry industry don’t really know how those shiny rings are actually made. Interacting with the raw materials and fire brings the whole experience to life. Kendra says, “Seeing the pure gold and weighing out the right amount for your ring is always fun — you get to hold all these little nuggets that will become your wedding ring! The biggest highlight comes when you get to quench the hot mold; plaster explodes away from the gold, and you pull your partner’s ring out of the plaster and hold it for the first time.”
Not to mention, this is a totally personalized and awesome memory to create with your partner before the wedding. Imagine exchanging rings while saying your vows, after putting so much love and intention into them. Kendra’s whole process is meant to add “an extra layer of meaning and memory to the beautiful symbols of their marriage.”
Transparency and trust are essential.
Kendra is an intentional person; it’s no coincidence that her workshops for couples are so full of meaning. She has a list of core values for herself and her business that she infuses into every level of what she does. She explains, “Transparency and trust are essential to my work. I educate my clients so that they leave knowing more about what metals we use and why we use them, how diamonds are sourced and priced, what kind of materials and vendors I support, and all the time and love that goes into each piece. Double Pour brings my couples even deeper into this process.” Kendra puts communication at the forefront to ensure everyone is happy: “I strive to be clear, to educate, and to set expectations so that there is never any confusion or anxiety.”
The wedding jewelry that symbolizes your love for your partner should not hurt the earth or any person in it.
Additionally, Kendra acts as the guide to help couples choose a metal and a style that matches their budget and aesthetic. Kendra believes there is “no set amount you ‘should’ spend. Only spend what feels comfortable and is in alignment with your values and budget.” Kendra’s slim wedding bands typically range from $660-$975. Wide wedding bands range from $975-$2000. Another value Kendra holds is that “the wedding jewelry that symbolizes your love for your partner should not hurt the earth or any person in it.” This is why she is committed to using ethically-sourced diamonds and gemstones. Adding diamonds to a band will alter the price, but Kendra can often source stunningly beautiful, unique antique and recycled diamonds for great prices. “People with small budgets should not be scared to ask about diamonds; I can find lovely, eco-friendly and sustainably sourced options at almost any price point.”
Love is the reason everything I create exists
“Love is the reason everything I create exists. I want to honor that love with an amazing, positive experience and a memory to go along with it.” Kendra welcomes couples of all shapes, sizes, genders, and sexual orientations to make beautiful memories with her.
Even jewelers know the importance of self-care.
For self care tips, Kendra recommends “The Passion Planner — it’s a gorgeous daily planner that helps organize all the personal and work related things that need to happen to reach your goals. I usually spend the last few minutes of my workday evaluating how the day went and planning for tomorrow. Then it’s a quick bike ride, dinner, and wine on the deck with my husband.”
Follow Kendra on Instagram to see new ring designs and to enjoy her adventures in metalsmithing @KendraReneeStudio