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Leif Benner always thought he'd become a chef one day. "I had this whole career path planned out," he explains. "I was accepted to George Brown Chef School, I was going to own my own restaurant, like my mother did." Something changed, however, when he was getting married. Leif had commissioned handmade wedding bands from a goldsmith. As he checked in to see how the rings were coming along, he became increasingly fascinated by the process. Leif deferred chef school and applied to George Brown's Jewellery Arts Program instead.

"There are moments in your life when you are ready for an immersion in something completely new," he says. "I was ready for that moment."

Despite his enthusiasm, Leif felt he had little hope of being accepted. "I remember feeling really intimidated," he recalls. "My interview was in the Gem Lab and there were tables full of people being interviewed at the same time. I looked around — other people were showing jewellery. I had a few sketches with me, but no jewellery making experience at all. "

Leif credits his acceptance to his way with words. "I am a good conversationalist," he admits. But he is so much more than that.

Leif Benner Designer/Goldsmith is now one of Toronto's premier jewellery designers, as renowned for the uniqueness of his designs as he is for his skill.

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