my silversmithing teacher told all of us NOT to try and make
jewellery for a living.
We would be better off getting jobs as cleaners and making jewellery
for the love of it.
If we were any good at designing jewellery (he made sure we were
good at making it) the people who we gave it to e. g. the girlfriend
would show it to their friends and their friends would want to buy
So you could slowly and carefully build a business without the
And as it would be a hobby no tax was payable. One day you may work
full time as a jeweller.
At the time I was studying silversmithing I was making fashion
jewellery as a living.
AKA making sh*t for morons (that was the eighties) also know as
turning 20 cents in $10.
Which retailers sold for up to $70. That is while I like David Bowie
he sang in one song “F*ck fashion” how true.
The game I played with my friends was to go to a component
wholesaler and buy the cheapest make it up and see who could sell it
for the most $. Friday night was a champagne celebration.
Shame “The beautiful young things (customers) grew up and got off
the Bolivian marching powder.”
Apparently Coco Chanel was famous for her champagne and cocaine
parties. It was legal then.
I once asked my teacher about production. ‘I can make one of these
pendants in an hour. How many should I make in a day?’
To do that I was told to work for 2 and a half hours then coffee
break 2 and a half hours lunch. Sleep for an hour and do it again.
That is how you compete. I would be 3 pendants a head of my 8 hour a
15 pendants a week a head or 750 pendants ahead for the year. At a
profit of $35 on materials that was $26,250 ahead of the competition.
Jewellery is hard work.
Good thing I got used to it a 10 years old up at 5.30 helping clean
30 stables or coursing the hounds (on foot) to kill feral rabbits and
foxes. Thats what I did in my holidays for fun, plus busting a gut
learning Haute Ecole Dressage. Which may look nice and fancy but is
actually cavalry horsemanship as used on the battle field. All those
pretty little “dances” are actually deadly skills.
We were once asked by the top rider “When passing another horse head
on why do you do it right hand to right hand?” Some foolish child
replied “To shake hands.” “No so you can cut their bloody head of
with your sword!”
Ma as we called her was a top horse woman and someone we all feared.
Sometimes as a favour she would put me on her horse, an A grade
dressage horse and demonstrate how to use a lunge reign. I had no
stirrups or reins and had to do a rising trot to full canter.
To those of you who think you CAN ride, if you can’t do a rising
trot for 10 minutes with out stirrups you have some work to do.
All the while being on the end of some biting comments. When I
dismounted I had to hold the saddle so as not to fall over/pass out.
What we loved most were musical rides, 6 to 8 horses, doing
intricate movements at extended trot or canter. Mass destruction was
but a breath away. Got your attention. A bit like picking up a graver
after the first cut has healed. People would say we looked pretty
doing musical rides for demonstrations. If only they knew the
kicking and biting that went on during practise and that was just
between us riders.
I would tell college students if you can’t work long hard hours, get
off the bench, you will never make it in the trade.
Conversely you can have a wonderful hobby.
A very kind person on Orchid is sending me a wax of one of their CAD
designs. If it is half as good as their hand work it will be
brilliant. We will compare casters and I will get an English trained
diamond mechanic (the setter’s terminology) to set the stones.
Swmbo will get the piece of course. And that will leave me with only
another 5 pieces she has on order. Designs I have yet to try to make.
Based on the big pink’s display ring that went up for sale recently.
If you want a hard task master forget dressage instructors or
jewellery teachers get married, to a woman who knows fine jewellery.
And top that off with a daughter with her mother’s jewellery genes and
her father’s acid tongue. “Such is life!” As Ned Kelly said.
So newbie ladies and gentlemen if you make for a living or for
pleasure when the jewellery bug bites you will be infected for life.
And your life while it may not be $ richer will be enriched. And
above all pass on your skills, when you have mastered them.
Keep hand making alive. And you will thank Orchid every day, except
when the posts don’t turn up, a curse on Bigpond my IT provider.
Richard after a 5.30 start for the Bellingen markets, with people
who want settings made for opals, who have never set a stone in their
life LOL big time. As well as a Tibetan silver LOL again bracelet to
be repaired. And a cosmic woo woo (hi Jo) who was so upset that I
wanted $100 to set her crappy bit of crystal in silver for a pendant.
Oh and another cosmic woo woo who thought $200 to cut a pentagram from
a Maria Theresa Thaler was too much. Hint iustitia et clemencia. Told
them where to buy a saw and a drill and do it themselves. Next time
it will be $300 two hundred for the pentagram and one hundred for the
lesson in wisdom. Gee I am so good at pissing off brain dead hippies.
where it is tropically hot and raining and need to do another 5.30
start for a market tomorrow.