I have always been the creative type, although I hadn’t thought of making jewellery until my mum suggested it when I was about fifteen.
I did some work experience in a jewellery workshop when I was in high school and, although back then I wasn’t doing much more than polishing and sweeping the floors, I could see that this was something I wanted to continue with.
When I had proved myself in the polishing room, I was allowed to make my first piece of silver jewellery and that was it…… I was going to be a jeweller.
Back then (I’m talking 80s here), women were a real scarcity in the jewellery trade, except behind a sales counter or in the back office doing accounts. I knocked on doors – so many doors! – and was rejected time and again simply for being female.
“Girls can’t be jewellers” they said. “You’ll break a nail, sweetheart” they scoffed. “You’ll distract the boys in the workshop” they said. Some things they said, I can’t even mention. It was a male-dominated world.
But finally, when I was almost at the point of giving up, I was lucky enough to secure a trial, and subsequently an apprenticeship, with an exclusive Sydney jeweller, going on to make jewellery for celebrities including fashion icon, Carla Zampatti, and contracting to Cartier. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now, many years later, things have changed so much in our industry and there are now more females coming through the trade than males – who ever would’ve thought? – and the jeweller is no longer considered just a “metalworker”. We are now (although we really always have been) artisans, creatives, designers.
And I am still loving my work just as much as the day I started – perhaps even more so.
The whole process of design, followed by the hands-on work of creating something so unique is a wonderful experience. I feel so fortunate that I am able to share so many personal and precious journeys and moments with my clients, many of whom have become friends. Whether it’s the excitement of a new engagement, or the remodelling of a sentimental family treasure, each story and each creative journey is unique and it is so wonderful to be able to share those moments.
In 2009, a chance meeting in a lift led me to a dinner conversation with a fellow goldsmith about the prospect of teaching. I was inspired and set about adding teaching to my repertoire. Shortly thereafter I was invited to teach a jewellery making class at Grafton Artsfest, an opportunity I jumped at, and I returned to the yearly festival as a tutor many times from then on. Since my very first workshop, teaching has been a large part of my business and my life, and I continued teaching at a number of arts festivals and local events.
With teaching firmly in mind, as well as the dream of one day having my own creative space to work in, I have built a fully-equipped jewellery workshop and design studio on my property in the gorgeous Hawkesbury region of NSW. With a beautiful natural bush outlook, it is the perfect environment for inspiration and creativity. The studio is also set up to accommodate up to six students for jewellery-making classes.
Whether you are looking for a new piece of custom-designed jewellery, to remodel your existing jewellery, or just to discuss options and possibilities, I welcome you to come and see me for an obligation-free consultation at my studio. If you are too far away to visit in person, please contact me for a virtual, telephone or email-based conversation.
I hope to see you soon.