My Mission To Be A Designer Jeweller
At the age of 16 I had decided that I wanted to be a jeweller. Mainly because I had studied a art metal class in high school and fell in love with working with my hands and being creative. After graduating school, I went in pursuit of an apprenticeship in Wagga Wagga NSW. As you can imagine there were not many advertised jobs to be a jeweller going around, I guess it’s not on most people’s career choice. So I would dress up nice with resumes in hand and catch the bus to the top end of the main street of Wagga Wagga and set off on foot visiting every jewellery store in town to introduce myself and ask if there were any available positions. If you have never been to Wagga the main street is where all the jewellery stores were at that time and was 3km from end to end.
My first visit to all the shops came as quite a shock to almost everyone that I saw. I don’t think anyone had done that before. Although some were nice and I could tell they admired my efforts to try and get an apprenticeship, but unfortunately they were all not wanting to put anyone on. As a young person that had found the courage to knock on all the doors, it was a little disappointing to be honest. I was surprised to see that a few actually did break into laughter right in front of my face as if it was the biggest joke they had seen. I suppose being only 17 years old, you have this idea that if I get the courage to do it then I might get lucky.
When I was looking for an apprenticeship the internet was not a big hit at that stage, and we certainly didn’t have a computer in my house. So I needed to check the paper everyday to see if anything would become available. After one week, I had my mother and father tell me that if that is what I want I need to keep trying. From hearing that, I would dress up nice with resumes in hand and go into town every Friday and walk into the shops. After a couple of times I noticed who was actually nice and give me the time of day and who also wouldn’t.
I would travel into town every Friday for the next 7 months going into each store that didn’t laugh in my face to ask how they are going and if there was any opportunity of getting some work in their workshop, even if it was just Saturdays. After receiving a no answer for 7 months straight I started to think it was time I gave it a bit of a rest and stop pestering them. On that day at 5:30pm I received a phone call from Robert at Nicholsons Jewellers to see if everything was alright. I explained I thought you’d be sick of me and to check in with everyone in a few months. He laughed and said that his jeweller was going on two weeks holidays and would I like to come in and do a trial! This made my day and made me realized that giving up is no longer an option.
I work there for two weeks and in that time there jeweller resigned and I finally got my dream job. I work for Nicholsons Jewellers for many years. I left Nicholsons Jewellers in 2001 and started to work as a contractor to many jewellery stores throughout the Riverina. This was going well for me and I was thoroughly enjoying being able to design and create pieces for people for many years. Unfortunately in 2004 the drought had hit and luxury items like jewellery took a nosedive fast. In that area we relied heavily on the farmers being successful. If the farmers were making money, then so was everyone else. That year was particularly hard because many of the jewellery stores had a considerable amount of money owed to me, but couldn’t afford to pay me. Leaving me with not much money and not able to pay through the right channels to recover it. I decided to look for a job within a large successful company in the cities.
Within 3 weeks I was packed up and had secured a job as a jeweller at the famous Cerrone Jewellers in Sydney. This to many would be seen as a step backwards, but for me I was excited to be working for the biggest brand in Australia with endless opportunities to refine my skills to be able to produce world class jewellery. I loved working at Cerrone Jewellers, many great opportunities to create very high end pieces of jewellery that smaller retailers dreamed of selling. Every day I would create a new piece that was an exquisite piece and I was very proud of to have made it.
I worked at Cerrone Jewellers for 2 years designing and making pieces that were worn on catwalks, placed on billboards and worn by “A” list celebrities worldwide. I met a lot of celebrities and was able to make many pieces for them to add to their collections. But even with all that, I still had this burning desire to have my own studio again creating first class pieces of jewellery. After all I was making pieces that are a symbol of their love for someone. What could be better than that!
A very good friend owned a construction company based in Leichhardt, Sydney and allowed me to share their space to work on all the “hard to do” pieces for jewellery stores. All these stores already had jewellers but I was doing their work for them at Cerrone Jewellers, because of the many wholesale accounts that they have. They had contacted me after I had decided to leave to see if I could still continue to do their high end pieces for them.
After 3 years I had finally built myself up well enough to start my studio into King Street, Sydney City. I have been in the same place since. I have moved into the retail side of business now and I am loving it. Now I get to design the pieces with the person and then handcraft their dream piece for them so that they can treasure it for the rest of their lives.
It is so rewarding to turn a drawing and an idea into a actual stunning piece of jewellery and watch their face light up with happiness when they see it for the first time.
I love what I do and could not imagine doing anything other than design and handcrafting jewellery.