Style: Q&A with Leo Alfred Jewelers owner Kevin Laudick

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Kevin Laudick, left, of Leo Alfred Jewelers loves sourcing gemstones from all over the world to make beautiful pieces in collaboration with goldsmith Ram Century.

An owner of Leo Alfred Jewelers talks about finding a rare talent.

Kevin Laudick's career at Leo Alfred Jewelers has taken him from polishing jewelry to collaborating on jewelry designs. Today, he and his brother, Jason, own the company along with their parents, Larry and Penny Laudick. (Larry was a founder of Leo Alfred with his brother, Thomas, who has recently retired. The company was named with their middle names.)

In 2006, Kevin flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, to meet Ram Century, a goldsmith with an inherited talent for hand fabricating metals. Together, they collaborate to create unique, custom pieces.

Kevin, how did you get involved in the jewelry business and how did you work your way into your current position?

I started working at Leo Alfred in 2000 after graduating from Colorado State University, knowing I was not interested in an office or corporate environment and always enjoyed making things. I sat down and started watching the goldsmiths and asking lots of questions. They had me polishing first and then doing small repairs.As an owner now, though, I can't dedicate all my time to the bench, so my day consists of just about everything from helping customers, organizing all the repairs and custom orders that come through our shop and buying gemstones for our inventory.

Ram, you learned to be a hand fabricator from your father and brothers in Kathmandu. What exactly does your work involve?

Growing up I watched my father and my two brothers make fantastic jewelry for everyone, and they thought their hands were magic. So, of course, I wanted to be like them. They showed me how to take the raw metal and shape it using hammers, files and rollers. For soldering the metal we used oil lamps and blow torches, using only the air in our lungs to heat the pieces enough to solder. Everything we made was by hand from raw materials.At Leo Alfred, I still use most of these techniques every day.

How did the two of you start working together?

I first heard about Ram in 2006 through a vendor of ours that had worked with him and his family for many years in Kathmandu. I had seen some of his work and loved it.When I heard Ram and his wife were interested in moving to the United States to be closer to his daughter and to help his son get into college here, I immediately reached out to see what we could do to help. Someone of Ram's talent with hand fabrication is extremely hard to find. So much jewelry these days is mass produced on a large scale. We wanted to be able to offer our customers something different and unique. After investigating the visa and sponsorship procedure, I flew over to Kathmandu to meet him and his family, immediately knowing Ram was someone who would fit well with our Leo Alfred family.

What makes your partnership work when it comes to designing jewelry?

I think we both just have an appreciation for the art and the creative process of getting from an idea to a finished piece. In the end, sometimes it is just what we thought, other times it leads to something different but better than what we first imagined.

Do you ever hurt each other's feelings when you disagree on a design?

There are times when I have an idea for a piece and he will just look at me like I am crazy, but that is when the fun starts.Sometimes, admittedly, it won't work, but there are times when it makes us look into the design further, put our heads together and find a solution that will work.We never hurt each other's feelings because of the respect we have for each other's abilities and ideas.