Thursday, 29 March 2012

Custom Jewellery

When I began in the jewellery business in 1987, I was fascinated by the infinite design possibilities which could be made in a space less than an inch-square.  That volume is the envelope within a jewellery designs works in to create new ring designs.  Thousands of goldsmiths for hundreds of years have yet to exhaust the permutations of metals, gemstones and contours possible within this space.

The journey that has led to my abilities in jewellery design are as follows.  While working for Forest of Jewels in Heritage Mall, Edmonton, I witnessed some of the senior staff working with goldsmiths to personalize existing designs in order to fulfill specific client needs.  I wanted to have that ability, because I knew it would lead to more sales.  If I couldn’t sell what was in the showcase, it would be nice to have other options.

While working (briefly) for Mappins, I was frustrated that special orders and custom work were almost completely discouraged.  I supposed if would have been okay if the inventory had any level of imagination, but everything was so “mass-market” that I knew there were many people we’d never be able to sell to.  Moving back to Edmonton and working alongside a talented custom goldsmith, I got to learn how waxes were carved, what a casting looked-like, how the jewellery was finished and set, and I studied gemology to learn more about the properties of gemstones.  I took a GIA counter sketching course, and developed my own methods of “drafting” jewellery which took into account the methods my goldsmith used to block-out and carve waxes.  Recreating lost jewellery for insurance claims gave me a lot of experience at working from verbal descriptions to two-dimensional sketches to architectural drawings and then to three-dimensional jewellery.

Working with Lilian and the skilled craftsmen at Customgold has added creativity and dimension to my jewellery design skills.  I continue to learn new things daily from my clients and their clients.  Jewellery design is more art than science, however you can’t have one without the other.

I would encourage anyone interested in jewellery design to take a counter-sketching course.  This is a vital tool and an essential medium to bridge the gap between conceptualization and craftsmanship.  An aspiring designer should avidly watch what other jewellery designers.  You know how they say, “the more you know, the less you know?”  Well by discovering the rich variety of designs out there, it will open your mind to new heights, widths, shapes, contours, materials and inspirations.

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