My line of work is one that requires passion. Without it we would burn out in a matter of years and move on to relatively stress free greener pastures. The manufacturing jewellery profession is without a doubt high stress, high pressure, frustrating, intricate and demanding job a lot of the time. But it is also rewarding, a lot of the time, which is where the love and the passion comes in to play.
This industry also happens to be one of the most confusing to the general public, who have over the decades come to associate the Australian Jewellery Industry as being synonymous with the multitude of large corporations who import mass produced, generic jewellery lines from overseas.
I will say first and foremost that I in no way intend to discredit these companies who follow this business model. In fact, I have many a good friend who either currently work or have worked for one of these stores and providing jobs for Australians is always a positive thing. I do think it is important however to discern between the two, The Australian manufacturing jeweller and the mass production importers, so that some of the confusion can be dispersed. Comparing apples with apples so to speak.
Australian manufacturing jewellers have entered into their profession in a number of ways. Be it TAFE, University, Apprenticeship or private training, they have undertaken study and practice to become Jewellers. They may choose to specialise in repair & restoration, custom made jewellery, contemporary jewellery design, computer assisted manufacturing stone setting, gemmology, valuing and any other number of specialities. Some very clever cookies may even have multiple modalities under their belt. The costs of being in business are high and the pay ain't great. They do it because they love it. At the end of it all, no matter how they studied or what they choose to specialise in, they are Australian Jewellers working within the Australian Jewellery Industry.
The large corporation type jewellery store are an entirely different animal. They usually outsource production of their jewellery lines to the most cost effective overseas factories, designing their pieces with low cost in mind. Designs are mass produced often by the thousands and then distributed to each store. They work in a seemingly constant "sale" environment and aim for their clients entirely by price point alone. They are generally not too concerned with repairing Grandmas heirloom antique ring and focused more on only servicing the pieces they sell themselves although this differs from company to company. They sometimes employ Australian jewellers on site but more often than not outsource their repair and warranty work.
Again, there is nothing wrong with this business model. It employs Australians, supports families and many a manufacturing jeweller find their feet or supplement their income by taking on the outsourced repairs. The important differences are that one model prefers to supply jewellery forever and the other prefers to supply jewellery for right now.
The benefits of a hand made or locally made piece of jewellery are obvious. Durability, supporting Australian made product by Australian manufacturers, trust and confidence in your client/jeweller relationship, boosting your local economy, face to face contact with the jeweller who will be working on your precious items and many more. Restoring a precious family heirloom? These are your guys (or girls). Designing a unique, one of a kind piece of jewellery intended to last for generations? That's our jam! General repairs and maintenance of your jewellery? It's our bread and butter.
You will pay more for a custom made, one of a kind piece of Australian made jewellery. You need only look at the comparison of cost of living between Australia and an Asian country where a lot of mass production factories are located to understand why. It pays to understand the hidden value in your Australian made purchase, whether it be free cleaning, extended warranties, after care services, being a part of the design process, personally selecting your perfect gems or the durability of the manufacture.
Try not to get too caught up on the dollar comparison alone. Think about what you need from your purchase. Do you want solid and designed to last a lifetime or would you prefer cheap and cheerful? Do you want size over quality or quality over size? Is an ongoing after sales relationship important to you? Do you want something unique or are you looking for the latest fad? When you ask yourself these questions you are making an informed decision. Your answers will direct you to where you need to go.
When it comes time to shop though, don't automatically assume your local Australian manufacturing jeweller will be out of your price range. A quick browse of our online shop will show you remarkable hand crafted jewellery by Australian jewellers that are on par cost wise with the corporations but with quality of workmanship and attention to detail that is second to none.
Ask for a quote , you may be pleasantly surprised at what you are quoted. Remember the benefits and the value of an Australian made piece and if something seems too pricey ask yourself if you are making a fair comparison or are you comparing apples and oranges.
Coming Soon: Are Australian jewellers really an endangered species? The reality of becoming a lost trade.
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