Over the year’s commissions have played a major role in our business bringing customers from Cleaners to Bishops, from neighbours to people from afar spending tens of pounds to thousands of pounds.
If stones, diamond, sapphires etc. are involved I will source them from dealers. I use one of the oldest establishment diamond dealers in London so no “Blood” diamonds and a coloured stones dealer, cutter, polisher, whose business goes back generations. (As a 1st-year apprentice I used to be sent to their Dickensian premises in Clerkenwell)
With stones to show I can explain their attributes. Everyone has their “budget” that can be met in different ways. Large stones where the quality won’t be good or high in quality but small in size. Once the stones, metal and design have been established the customer will then commit themselves to a deposit. Depending on how many processes the piece has to go through (casting, hallmarking, setting etc. the job needs to go through when it is out of my hands) determines how long it will take. I don’t think it has ever been longer than six weeks.
When the day comes for the piece to be seen and collected I don’t know who is the most nervous. The customer or me. Will they like it? They usually do sometimes with tears but I’m never sure if that is relief or joy.
Many people have pieces of jewellery old and new that they don’t wear either because it is no longer fashionable, it’s worn out or they simply don’t like it. They don’t want to get rid of it because of sentimentality, so and so bought it for them, it was left to them by a great aunt or that they wouldn’t get anything for it. If this applies to you. Why not have it remade into something you like and can wear? Between us, we can design something around the material you have. Stones can always be used as can be some of the gold/ silver. Where it can’t because it had originally been cast, where special alloys are used, or the metal has been laminated, I make an allowance on the scrap value in my labour charge.
I don’t think a day goes by without a repair being brought in. I seldom say “no I can’t do it”. I like a challenge and I have given myself many a headache in the past. People only have to use the “sentimental” word and I seem to think I must do it! I never seem to learn some things are just not economically worth attempting...
Ring too big too small? in 99% of cases I can do it.
Stone/s missing? again in 99% of cases I can source them.
Pin missing from a brooch, chain broken, one earring missing, damage caused by; dog, wearer falling, item been caught in electric reclining chair, chain broken by the owner trying to lift a coffee table with it! being put in the washing machine. The list goes on of what I am told has befallen pieces of jewellery.
Again, in most cases, I will attempt to put it back looking like new.
The shop stocks gold and silver jewellery (platinum and palladium on request) in the form of rings, bracelets, bangles, pendants, chains, earrings, ear studs etc. The bulk of our items are in silver coming from Britain, Mexico, India, Italy, Thailand, Israel etc. All very diverse and unusual.
Pieces in gold and other metals are more U.K. sourced with a lot of pieces made in our workshop.
PLEASE NOTE. Because we are a very small concern we do not carry multiples of stock items. However, restocking could take a couple of days or a couple of weeks or so depending on the piece.
Due to the small size of our shop, we do not diversify into watches, clocks, silverware etc.
Our first manufacturing/retail outlet opened in Wales at Easter 1978 in the Maes Artro Craft Village, Llanaber. (Sadly no longer there) An event that was considered by my contemporaries in Hatton Garden, London, where I had done my apprenticeship in Diamond Mounting, to be utter madness.
To my wife and I, it was a risk, an adventure and a way of escaping the “rat race” of Southeast England.
Four years later we opened our workshop and shop here in Barmouth and, until her passing in 2010, never regretted the decision we made all those years ago.
My new wife, Jane, has admirably taken on the responsibility of buying the stock and its display in the shop whilst I continue to discuss commissions, re-makes and repairs with customers and then carry out the work in the workshop.
Our staff are Denise, whose duties are sales, shop maintenance and assisting the computer and paperwork for my side of the business and Amanda who helps with sales, manages the accounts and stock control.
For further background reading, you might like to look at the Blog Page