A local institution, MurDuff’s Jewelry is celebrating 75 years in business this year. The name MurDuff comes from its founders, Rita Murphy and Ed Duffy, who opened the store in the Northampton village of Florence in 1946. 

Murphy and Duffy’s legacy carries today, as the business remains a destination for some of the most unique and historic custom jewelry designs in the country, led by two masters of their craft.  

Connecting Point’s Ross Lippman takes us behind the bench of Kurt Brazeau and Paul Piquette to see what it takes to be a master goldsmith and a master engraver.  


Read a full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: A local institution, MurDuff’s Jewelry, is celebrating 75 years in business this year.  The name MurDuff comes from its founders, Rita Murphy and Ed Duffy, who opened the store in the Northampton village of Florence in 1946.

Their legacy carries on through today as the business remains a destination for some of the most unique and historic custom jewelry designs in the country, led by two masters of their craft.

Connecting Point’s Ross Lippman takes us behind the bench of Kurt Brazeau and Paul Piquette to see what it takes to be a master goldsmith and a master engraver.

Ross Lippman, Connecting Point: The counters at Murdoch’s jewelers in Florence carry the same shine as most jewelry stores, with watches and rings that can certainly catch your eye.

But if you take a moment and look above the counters, something else might get your attention. Two master craftsman hard at work, as they have been side by side for over 20 years.

Kurt Brazeau, Master Goldsmith: All day long it’s constant, kinda a controlled chaos.

Ross Lippman: MurDuff’s owner Kurt Brazeau and Paul Piquette make quite the pair in the jewelry world. Their combined decades of experience have earned each of them distinct titles, respectively, of Master Goldsmith and Master Engraver.

Paul Piquette, Master Engraver: I think it’s more…something that people look up to you about, not just an engraver, an engraver, could be somebody who runs a machine. So, a master engraver really denotes a higher level of skill.

Kurt Brazeau: To be a master goldsmith means that you’re going to have any project put in front of you, and you can do it.

Ross Lippman: The small hallway in the back of the store serves as their workbenches. All day long, meticulous detail that goes into their designs can sometimes take up more noise than the conversation they normally.

Kurt Brazeau: Normally now, when we talk about what we brought for lunch and who had the better lunch.

Ross Lippman: Consider it the comfortable kind of silence from two friends turned coworkers whose relationship has only grown over the years.

Kurt Brazeau: Our personalities are very much the same. We enjoy a lot of the same things. We’ve even actually gone on vacation together, fishing, even though we work together all the time.

Ross Lippman: Together they’ve made a reputation nationally for their work, from PGA trophies like the Traveler’s Cup, to custom one-of-a-kind antique designs like this ring with a sapphire portrait.

Their combined skills allow the pair to take on some of the most unique challenges, including in 2015, when Paul Piquette was asked to follow up the work of another Paul.

Paul Piquette: Well, working here, MurDuff’s, the most exciting piece and probably will forever, is doing the time capsule silver plate that went into the cornerstone at the Massachusetts State House. It was engraved in the same style that Paul Revere did the first plate back in 1795.

And so, the fact that his tools and my tools — we could actually swap shops and still be comfortable.

Ross Lippman: But not every day is filled with projects that call back to the American Revolution. Sometimes, you’re just making a silver cup for a boy named Finn.

Paul Piquette: And then when I got introduced to engraving, I’m like, “wow, this is cool.”

Ross Lippman: What keeps Piquette and Brazeau on the bench is that every piece can be one of a kind. That is, if you are a master at your craft.

Kurt Brazeau: And the best part of my business is making one-of-a-kind jewelry for customers. That’s what we excel at, and that’s what I enjoy doing.

Paul Piquette: For those that are younger looking to get into the arts, don’t skip over the trades. There’s a lot. If you’re creative, there’s much that you can do as a tradesperson and be creative with it.