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Julian Bartrom, a self-employed jeweller reaping the rewards of custom-made jewellery
Julian Bartrom, a self-employed jeweller reaping the rewards of custom-made jewellery
 









 

Bespoke jewellery in Kiwi “renaissance”

A self-employed jeweller is upbeat about the future of custom-made jewellery after his latest piece triumphed in a recent awards show.
Julian Bartrom’s award-winning piece, Le Dragonfly en Tremblant, was handcrafted in 18ct gold and set with blue topaz, green, blue and pink tourmaline, Ceylonese sapphires and 93 brilliant-cut diamonds. 

The 24 year-old operates out of his home-based studio in Ellerslie, Auckland, where he spent eight months and 180 hours working on his award-winning masterpiece .

Bartrom was thrilled to have won such an accolade, reflecting back on his decision to follow a career in jewellery design from the age of 15. 

“A friend of the family gave me a gold necklace and I remember I had always wanted silver, but when they gave me the gold I thought it was lovely,” Bartrom said. 

The winning piece depicts a Dragonfly and Bartrom cites nature as an important influence in his jewellery design.

“I thrive on creativity and making something from nothing,” Bartrom explained. “When I finished high school I started off doing an apprenticeship with Aztec Gold, then I completed a three-year course at the Peter Minturn Goldsmith School.” 

Despite the decline in jewellery apprenticeships throughout New Zealand and Australia, and the collapse of large-scale jewellery manufacture everywhere but China, it appears as though wealthier consumers are willing to splash out for custom-made pieces.

Mark Beckett Diamonds commissioned the winning piece. Beckett told The Press the abundance of emerging talent makes him optimistic about the state of the industry. 

“The high end of the market is the only place for aspiring jewellers,” Beckett said. "We can't afford to compete on the cheap stuff."

Bartrom, for example, is inundated with bespoke orders, and after being rewarded for his masterful brooch, sees five to six new clients walking into his studio each week.

Bartrom's award-winning Dragonfly brooch
Bartrom's award-winning Dragonfly brooch

“My work comes from all different avenues,” Bartrom said. “It started off with creating designs for friends and family and now I get lots of referrals.”

A sole proprietor for nearly two years now, Bartrom has no regrets about his decision and says the demand for custom-made jewellery is strong, despite the difficult economic climate.

“I always wanted to have a workshop where people come to see me,” Bartrom said. “This is perfect for me at the moment whilst I am studying to be a gemmologist.” 

Bartrom’s award featured in a number of Kiwi media reports. Greg Jones, president of the Jewellery Manufacturers Federation (JMF), told Stuff.co.nz that there have been fewer manufacturers taking on apprentices, but young jewellers are willing to up-skill on their own.

“There was clear demand for Kiwi jewellers to create bespoke rings, necklaces and brooches,” said Jones. “Market forces have been driving a natural evolution.” 
 
Despite the drop in apprentice jewellers, Jones has been informally backing the new generation, overseeing development, providing technical advice and funding experimental pieces. 

“There are a lot of people with a high degree of skill,” Jones said. “This is a renaissance in New Zealand jewellery.” 

More reading:

Young jewellers wins international award

Customer made jewellery the latest trend










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Monday, 16 September, 2019 10:28am
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