A considerable number of our customers are having engagement jewellery designed. These customers seem to be men, in their early 30s, who are looking for something ‘different’ for their female counterparts. Many of them have told us they were lost in the world of tacky mass produced jewellery – not knowing where else to go, scoping the jewellery chains at shopping centres across Melbourne. Those that were saved and made it to us safely were predominantly rescued by responsible and loving friends. In one particular instance, a good samaritan saw his distressed friend standing outside a jewellery franchise on Swanston Street, hurt, confused and unsure of where on earth to find that super special piece of jewellery to give his super special other half.
We don’t need to say anything about jewellery franchises do we? Ok, maybe we’ll just say this. Buying a mass produced piece of jewellery from a franchise may be attractive to some on a tighter budget. But keep in mind, hundreds if not thousands of the same pieces of jewellery are made by machines by these places. Also, the designs come from not a place of jewellery-nerdiness and love for the art, but to cater for mass and mainstream markets.
There are of course many independent stores in the fine jewellery market. Most of this part of the industry is dominated by middle to older aged men. Many of these men have been in the industry a very long time and many of these are absolute masters of their trade. Full respect to them always, as they are the ones that taught us the art of jewellery making.
What we’ve found though is that the style, designs and ideas of these masters are harder for the younger generations to connect with and vice versa. We’ve found that the urban hipster – who once renounced marriage and swore he’d never do it – now wants to put a ring on the finger of the girl he loves, and he wants this ring to be extraordinary. Art Deco is really in, and he wants diamonds as well as coloured stones. He wants interesting shaped and cut stones.
And what we are really happy with is that when these lost boys finally find us, they love the experience. They get the opportunity to speak with a younger jeweller, who is a total jewellery-nerd, who will design but really importantly – will push you to have some input into the design of the ring. This process is an incredible one… secret meetings without the girlfriend knowing, discussions about her existing jewellery, her clothes, what sort of stuff she’s into. Workshopping proposal methods. Then of course, trying to get her ring size. Some have stolen her rings without her knowing, others have attempted the very risky act of tying a string around her finger while she’s sleeping. Others have taken home the large heavy mandrel/ring sizer without her knowing, and measured her rings on it.
Wish we could get photos of boys’ faces when they come in to pick up the final product. Words to describe what happens during that moment: the boy goes speechless, he blushes, he’s chuffed, some even get teary, and then always, he’s proud. The pride comes from the fact that they were so involved with the process.
As for the girl - when that ring is put on her finger, the knowledge that her partner was so involved in the process makes it so much more special. As one of our beloved clients’ fiancé stated: “It really is the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen, and the fact that M helped design it, makes me love it so much more”.
Our pieces are handcrafted, using old school tools and methods, with so much thought about the individual its being made for, with great love and respect for the materials that are used. So, how do we save more boys? Where are these boys and how can we get them here to make them jewellery with soul?
Written by Atelier Paul Stewart