Retiring jeweler will leave a void

Arts & Entertainment

Retiring jeweler will leave a void

D. Robert Smith worked for 42 years in the Southwest
Jewelry artist D. Robert Smith worked his final day on the bench inside the Durango Trading Post on Wednesday.
This ring is one of thousands and one of the last created by artist and jeweler D. Robert Smith, who retired from the retail and repair business on Wednesday after 42 years.
Newly retired jeweler D. Robert Smith will no longer be found in his corner of the Durango Trading Post on Main Avenue. Smith closed up shop for the final time Wednesday.

Take extra care of those rings, bracelets and any other jewelry, because one of the finest craftsmen in the Southwest won’t be around anymore to fix it.

After about a quarter million pieces of jewelry and 42 years in business, D. Robert Smith closed up his workbench inside the Durango Trading Post on Main Avenue for the last time Wednesday afternoon.

“There’s one lady who just can’t get it through her head that I’m quitting, and she keeps asking me to work on her jewelry,” Smith said.

Smith has had a local presence in Durango only since 2004, but his decades of work in Arizona and New Mexico established his reputation here long before his arrival.

“I had a friend years ago in Sedona who used to tell me ‘You should find this guy,’ and we were lucky enough to run into him a while back,” said Jackson Clark, owner of Toh-Atin Gallery.

Smith has done Toh-Atin’s repair work for “years,” though neither could remember just how many.

“He can cut a stone better than anyone I’ve ever seen, and most of the things he’s fixed you can never tell there was anything wrong with them,” Clark said.

But Smith, who turned 60 in January, is much more than a repairman. He estimates that since he cut his first stones as an 8-year-old under the tutelage of his grandfather, he’s created between 150,000 and 250,000 pieces. His core customers – about 100 of them – are spread all over the country, and new ones find him all the time.

One was Robert Lamoreaux, a member of the Ojibwe tribe in Canada who moved to Durango the same year Smith arrived. Lamoreaux immediately became one of Smith’s most loyal customers and has many of his pieces.

“He’s one of the best jewelers I know – and I know a lot of jewelers. And I’ve got his number, so I’m not letting him retire,” Lamoreaux said.

Smith conceded that it’s unlikely he’ll quit the jewelry craft altogether. He has several business ventures that will occupy much of his time. He is also working on a novel and plans to write a book about jewelry-making and repair.

“It’s not like I’m going to quit working, I just refuse to be like that. I’ve got projects to keep me busy for another 10 years,” Smith said. “I’m going to do a little traveling, but I grew up in the Four Corners and Durango’s now home. I love it here. I’ll just be a little harder to find.”

ted@durangoherald.com

Retiring jeweler will leave a void

Purchase
Jewelry artist D. Robert Smith worked his final day on the bench inside the Durango Trading Post on Wednesday.
Purchase
This ring is one of thousands and one of the last created by artist and jeweler D. Robert Smith, who retired from the retail and repair business on Wednesday after 42 years.
Purchase
Newly retired jeweler D. Robert Smith will no longer be found in his corner of the Durango Trading Post on Main Avenue. Smith closed up shop for the final time Wednesday.
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