Words from a Canadian goldsmith
Hello, this is my first blog attempt, and I hope you will find it of some interest. One of the purposes of the precious metal blog is to advise people what to look for when buying jewellery, and avoiding mistakes that may lead to future costly repairs.
Let me begin by giving you a brief history of my career as a Goldsmith. I began learning my craft in the 1970s and am still learning every day that I work at my bench. I was taught by some very talented jewellers, and diamond setters, the rest was up to me putting in the hours, practicing and learning by mistakes. You don’t want to make mistakes on a clients expensive, sometimes irreplaceable piece of jewellery. It takes years to gain the confidence, and knowledge to look at a piece and judge if it is going to be a nightmare to work on, or a challenge that you are capable of handling properly.
Over the years I have worked for large manufacturing jewellers, ( ie., more than a dozen employees) as well as smaller shops and retail jewellers. It has given me experience with all aspects of the trade.
During the 1990s I owned a studio in downtown Vancouver for several years. I made custom jewellery for the retailers, as well as my own clients. It really became my whole life, sometimes sleeping overnight at the studio to make a deadline for a client, and working seven days a week. When we moved to Langley the commute became too much so I moved the Studio closer to home.
I no longer do work for the trade. I work at my own pace, so I can’t really do rush jobs with 1 or 2 week deadlines, but I still enjoy interacting with private clientele . I have actually taken a steady job in a factory down the street from where I live ( a seven minute walk ). No relation to the jewellery trade, but an architectural lighting company.
Working at the factory has given me a new freedom to pursue my creative interests. At present I am not taking on new clientele but spending my bench time creating new designs.
I will include photos of my work as I continue writing, but most of my work over the many years was not photographed. At least with digital cameras today, it makes it easy to keep a portfolio of work done.
………This ring was hand forged from 18KT gold sheet, which I alloy and make to my specs.
This is a recent cocktail ring that the client wanted large and flashy.
Some of my work is carved and produced using the lost wax casting method, but this was totally hand fabricated.
Below is an example of carved and cast work. Roses had deep meaning for this client and his fiance.
……The Diamond engagement ring nestles with the rosebud Wedding band.
I would like to strongly urge that you search out independent local jewellery artists when making your jewellery purchases. Do as much research as possible to find someone whose product reflects your own tastes in design. Word of mouth is one the best methods of finding a competent goldsmith that you can trust. That is where I get almost all of my clients from.Please try to stay away from big box stores when buying jewellery. I can not imagine someone admitting to their fiance that they bought the Engagement ring at Wal Mart. They are the biggest sellers of jewellery in the world, perhaps due in part to paying the lowest prices to the factories who make it for them. Pay a little more for quality, it is worth it in the long run.
The next time you are flipping channels on TV, stop at the home shopping network if they are selling rings. When you see a ring displayed on a moving stand, so you can view the inside of the shank underneath, notice that it is probably hollowed out to save a bit of material (gold, and even silver). This always amazes me, especially with silver, a saving of pennies, but over hundreds of items, it makes cost saving sense for them. Myself, or any knowledgeable Goldsmith, will not touch these rings to size or otherwise work on them. They may collapse, or dent, becoming a major headache for us. Pay a little more for quality.
…………This 19kt white gold engagement ring has a nice thick shank. I only left underneath the diamonds open for cleaning purposes.
If you are looking for a high karat white gold, 19kt is a nicer white than 18kt, which may yellow slightly over time.
When it comes to buying Diamonds, the internet is full of information to educate consumers. The link I have provided appears to cover what you should know about Diamonds before you go out shopping.
This information was put together by the Diamond Chat Forum and is about the best I have come across so far.
Keep in mind that Diamond grading is a tricky business. Professionals argue over grading all the time, seeing the stones higher or lower grade than the other person. Diamonds are not an investment. You will likely never be able to sell them for more than you paid for them, or even what you paid for them at retail. They are definitely not a rare stone in smaller sizes below a few carats.
However, natural, untreated colored diamonds of exceptional color and quality are indeed rare and in larger weights certainly will hold and increase in value. Diamonds should be bought because of their fire and beauty and amazing response to different lighting situations. When you buy a piece with very low quality diamonds, such as a tennis bracelet with 1.50 carats total weight of diamonds for $299.00, for example, once you leave the lights in the store it will lose its life, only the shiny gold will sparkle, at least while it’s clean. Once again, I can’t stress enough, you get what you pay for.