The Jewellers Guild Interview
The Jewellers Guild Interview
24 Jul 2018
A beautiful sight always greets your eyes when looking through the window of a jewellers. Diamonds, pearls, gold, silver- the glitz and the glamour. But I bet you haven’t given much thought to how they are made. In this interview, I speak to Mark, designer goldsmith for the Jewellers Guild, about his time as a craftsman as well as uncover some hidden secrets of his work.
As I walk up narrow stairs leading the way to Mark’s workshop, I expect to see a large space filled with lots of machines. Instead, I walk into a small, cosy workshop where I see children’s drawings cover the wall above Mark’s desk as well as sketches of designs scattered amongst tools. The workshop appears well loved and an area of hard work and creativity.
Mark tells me how he has been in the jewellery trade for nearly 20 years beginning when he began an apprenticeship after leaving school at 16 in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. After 6 years, Mark moved up to the North East “so I’ve been here for just over 12 years”.
“Social media is the biggest inspiration”, Mark tells me when I ask where his ideas come from. He explains that his inspiration can come from anywhere “it could be a museum or an art gallery” “doesn’t have to be jewellery related”. His inspiration is even close to home at times “even if you’re walking through Morpeth that can be inspirational”.
I ask Mark what his favourite piece has been that he has created. Casually he says, “suppose we did a piece for Cheryl Cole”. Surprised by his relaxed response, I’m intrigued to know more. He tells me how her Dad wanted to create something special for her 30th birthday. Mark reminds me of the tattoo of a rose she had recently had done at the time. Mark explains “I did some designs” for a pendant and how he “thought [he’d] do a rose because of the tattoo on her back”. Mark then goes on to tell me how his design was a success. He tells me “since then I’ve noticed she’s had the tattoo extended and the actual rose I designed is actually on the extension of the tattoo”. He says with a grin on his face “as soon as I saw it I was like that’s my rose!”.
As we discuss more about Mark’s work, he tells me how his favourite part of the process, without hesitation, is making. “I can draw jewellery but I’m better at making” he explains “my favourite part is when you get engrossed in making it”, he goes on to tell me “sometimes when you’re making something you might look at it and think oh this could be better if we changed this slightly”. Mark tells me of how his skills have adapted since moving to work in Morpeth. “I came into the trade backwards I was making jewellery before I was drawing” “my old company did a little bit of design work but not much but when I came here it was part of the job so I had to bring that into what I can do for the company”. He goes on to explain “the benefits of doing it the way I’ve done it I suppose is I’ve kind of approached things more practically so I know how to make them before I draw them”.
With so many different aspects of Mark’s work, I ask him what his favourite type of jewellery to create is. He tells me how his favourite is redesign work. Intrigued, I ask him to elaborate- “if a customer has inherited a piece of jewellery and they don’t like the style of it but because it’s quite sentimental they want to be able to wear it” “I can redesign it with the stones and metals they’ve got and then do some designs for them”. He goes on to tell me “if they’re happy with it we go ahead and do the commission so they end up with a piece quite modern that they’re going to wear to their taste but it still retains the sentiment of the original piece of jewellery”.
Mark then tells me the hardest part of his work- “I suppose it’s when you do some drawings for someone and they still can’t picture the item”. He tells me how his drawings are often in great detail and how it can be challenging when a customer can still not picture the finished piece. He explains how he overcomes the challenge- “I make a model first rather than going straight into the finished piece”.
I have noticed many a time walking past the window of the Jewellers Guild, the detail and the quality of the pieces. I ask Mark if he has a particular style in which he creates his work. “I don’t have a particular style” he goes on to tell me how his pieces are often unique to the individual customer “so it’s completely up to them”. I ask him if that’s a highlight of his job and he tells me “yeah definitely” “if you get it right which we normally do its quite rewarding because you can go straight into making the piece”.
So next time you’re walking past the Jewellers Guild and happen to peer into the window, you now know the man behind all the glamour and glitz.