The Van Craeynest story begins in San Francisco during the Roaring Twenties with young Roger Van Craeynest. A boy with a dream, thirteen-year-old Roger began an apprenticeship at Shreve & Company on Union Square working with the finest European craftsmen. Under their diverse influence he was carefully mentored, ultimately becoming a notable master die cutter, designer and engraver—establishing a new standard for fine jewelry.
Roger founded Van Craeynest in 1926, fulfilling his dream and continuing a strong tradition of apprenticeship, teaching craftsmen the art of creating future heirlooms through the die-striking manufacturing process. In 1960 Roger’s son, Larry Van Craeynest, joined the company and remained dedicated to training young artisans the same techniques that he was once taught. For the last 89 years Van Craeynest has produced handcrafted die-struck jewelry, made with many of the original tooling and machines that reach back to the late 19th century.
In 2011, after years of selling Van Craeynest jewelry in the store, the Emerson family acquired Van Craeynest with the mission of upholding the legacy of this historic jewelry manufacturer. Van Craeynest's original home on 657 Mission Street in San Francisco was relocated to downtown Redlands with the help of a rickety 100 year-old elevator, specialty equipment, lifts and cranes, and several trucks. Today, it still functions as the Van Craeynest factory, and a living museum, right behind the Emerson & Farrar storefront in downtown Redlands.
Roger Van Craeynest's legacy of master craftsmanship and dedication to detail lives on in the extraordinary work of current Master Jeweler Paul Emerson III. Paull III apprenticed under Larry Van Craeynest to learn die-striking, tool making, carving, piercing, and chasing. Many of these techniques are long lost in the high volume of mass produced jewelry, yet these traditional approaches to crafting jewelry continue to be passed down with the apprenticeship tradition that remains to this day. Each piece of jewelry is poetry in metal, and wearable sculpture from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau eras.View the Van Craeynest Collection