Featured artist, philongold. Silver jewellery

When Did You First Start Making Jewellery, And Why?

Like a lot of left-handed people, I have always been good with my hands, and I excelled at art, woodwork, metalwork and other technical subjects at school.

In my fourth year in metalwork, I designed and built a go-kart with a 50cc engine.

Once I had finished that project, everything else was a bit of a bore, but I got on very well with my metalwork teacher, and one day, I was watching him filing a tiny piece of metal. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was making a setting for a stone out of silver and would I like to have a go.

I absolutely jumped at the chance, and I suppose that's where my inspiration for jewellery-making began. I was 15 years of age. I am 69 now.

Do You Have A Studio Space You Work From? 

I am based in the Cotswolds. I am making more gold pieces for stock, and therefore, I am getting more 9ct and 18ct gold commissions because people can see I am capable of making high-end jewellery in Gold and Silver. 

My workshop space is very important to me, and, as most jewellery makers will tell you, it has to be 'just so'.

philongold in the studio. Interview with Eternal Tools.

What Have You Been Working On Recently?

The nicest commission I have had recently was for an 18ct yellow and white gold ring with a beautiful square-cut Ceylon sapphire set in 18ct white gold.  

You will see from the image that the band is 18ct yellow gold with one of my unique textures on it, 18ct white gold shoulders, and, as I said, the sapphire is set in 18ct white gold.  My client was absolutely delighted with what I had created for her.

Over the past 18 months, I have started using more eco-friendly materials.  Now, all my bullion is 100% recycled and I am using lab-grown diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and also moissanites.  

At first, I was absolutely against using lab-grown gemstones, but now, I think it is an excellent idea. 

If we used more lab-grown gemstones, nobody would need to dig great big holes in our beautiful planet or risk their lives going hundreds of feet underground to get these stones, and probably the best thing about them is that they are nowhere near as expensive as a natural-grown gemstone. Lab-grown gemstones are perfect in every way and often are far more attractive than the real thing.

philongold in the studio. Interview with Eternal Tools.

What Tools Could You Not Live Without?

Every file I pick up, whether it be a 6-inch hand file or a small needle file, feels great in the hand.

I really like my pendant drill. I have always had a pendant drill but never used it as extensively as I do now.

Even though the pendant drill has its place in my workshop, I am now also using a micro-motor, which is a lot less cumbersome, the hand piece is a lot lighter and a lot nicer to use for finer work.  Whatever attachments fit into a flexi-drive will also work in a micro-motor.

Discovering new accessories for pendant drills and micromotors, which are available nowadays, is very exciting. I have always used buffing sticks with different grades of wet and dry on them to clean up my work before polishing, but I find I am using rubber silicone polishers much more than I ever have done before.

My work has changed dramatically over the years, but one thing that has not changed is the use of Eternal Tools and their Rubber Silicone Polishers and other silicone wheels to help me clean up my creations!

Along with high-end jewellery goes the need for high-end finishing of those pieces of work. And that is where Eternal Tools comes in with their extensive range of wheels, polishing pins, etc, which fit the pendant drill and the micro-motor.

Nowadays, I use rubber silicone polishing and finishing equipment several times every day to get that ultra-high finish I require.

What Aspect Of Your Work Do You Enjoy Most?

Without a doubt, the thing I enjoy the most is the interaction with clients.
Even back in the day, when I had my own High Street shop and had to make a lot of items for stock, I specialised in private commissions.

I have made jewellery for celebrities and even royalty, but what I really enjoy is designing and making something for people like you and me.

Any Amusing Work Anecdotes?

I used to work in a complex with about twelve other individual artisans. No craft was duplicated.

One autumn evening, I was working in my studio, which had glass windows on two sides. In the windows, I had trays and trays of jewellery on show. I noticed a woman who first looked very closely in one of my windows, then moved around the corner to look in the other window. She must have been there a good ten minutes.

Then she entered my shop/studio and, to her right, was a cabinet on the wall, again full of jewellery, and to her left and forward, I sat beavering away. 

I had a screen in front of my workbenches to protect the public, but you could see through this screen and over it, as it was only lower chest height to somebody standing in the shop. 

This particular lady strolled over to where I was working, looked over the screen and said quite slowly and quite clearly, 'Oh, you must be the leather worker'. I almost fell off my chair, and all I could think of to say was, 'Yes, that's right'.

What Has Been Your Favourite Piece To Work On?

One of my favourite pieces of all time was probably the first time I was invited to the wedding of a couple for whom I had made the engagement ring and wedding rings. That was such a thrill. I stayed friends with that couple for years until they moved to New Zealand.

It's extraordinary coming back to making and designing jewellery after being away from it for so long. I went through a liver transplant, which was life-changing, and right now, I am a bit gob-smacked; it's like me watching myself making jewellery. It's great.

Any Advice For Someone Wanting To Start Up Their Own Jewellery Business?

As a curt reply, I would probably say Don't!

Seriously, it really depends on who you are, what experience you have, what financial backing you have, where you are in the country and whether you feel you could build a client base.

We have to remember that we are dealing with a luxury trade and, although there will always be people who have money, there are probably fewer of us ordinary men on the street able to spend money on a piece of handmade jewellery.

What's Next For philongold?

Even though I have been designing and making gold and silver jewellery for over 35 years, I am still coming up with fresh new ideas for my clients.

Nowadays, I am concentrating on blending traditional skills with the most modern techniques to create high-end gold and silver jewellery that is as unique as you are.

Thanks, philongold, for sharing your beautiful work and thoughts on the jewellery trade. 

If you'd like to see more of philongold's work, he has a brand new website at philongold.co.uk;  he has a presence on social media - at Instagram it is philongoldjewellery, on Facebook and Pinterest: philongold.