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Mark McGuire, Celestial Fine Jewels
Mark McGuire, Celestial Fine Jewels

The power of passion

“My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose.” – Bette Davis.

I have been a huge fan of the late Bette Davis ever since I was a child. I would watch her old films on Bill Collins’ Golden Years of Hollywood show alongside my parents.

It is little known that Davis started out as a B-grade actress who was judged as ugly and frumpy, completely lacking any sex appeal. It was only through will and passion that she became one of the silver screen’s sexiest women.

I’m a strong advocate of the notion that ‘Life is best lived with passion and purpose’, and I believe local jewellers could benefit from reigniting their creative passion to reach new heights in their working lives. Before jumping the gun, however, let me explain how I have come to this conclusion.

It was in a moment four years ago that I reflected on my career and decided to make a move. Having been in the teaching profession for nearly 20 years, I wanted to shake things up a little. I wanted to go back to what I had always dreamt of for as long as I could remember: design jewellery.

I didn’t set out to leave my teaching role – it was such a vital part of my life – but rather wanted to open a new door that would enrich it. I enrolled in the Gemmological Association of Australia (GAA) distance education course to become a gemmologist. The course exceeded my expectations and, most importantly, I met some wonderful, like-minded people in the GAA NSW branch.

Once armed with my knowledge of gemstones, I began looking for the next part of the journey. Did I have what it took to prove my passion? As many people who are starting out in the jewellery trade know, there are those who will try to dampen passion with myths and fiction.

“You won’t make any money,” they say. “Overheads are too high and the Aussie market is too small.”

It’s especially at these times, though, when we need to draw on our passion and will.

I wanted to start designing for real people and so began the process of researching exactly what it was that the consumer was looking for. What styles and types of jewellery were Sydney jewellers offering?

After looking at dozens of window displays, I came up with the answer. I had the silver bullet, the foundation of every successful design – the halo setting!

The problem was that instead of being inspired to create designs that would rival any high-street window, I was absolutely bored to death.

It is here where we have the philosophical question of what came first: the chicken or the egg? Why do customers want the halo setting? It is because they really want it or is it because it is all we are giving them?

If you look at the women around you, it’s pretty obvious that each likes to express their style in their own unique way. Surely the exploding market in cheap yet chic costume jewellery is a testament to that.

Women want to stand out from their peers so why are we still stuck in 1995 giving them more of the same?

I want to stand on the dome of the Queen Victoria Building and shout, “Where are the jewellers of Australia who are willing to set trends instead of follow them?”

We are a cosmopolitan nation. International fashion houses and brands have moved to our shores, which is why I believe that women are craving different, vibrant and spectacular jewellery designs now more than ever before.

Our own Crown Princess Mary of Denmark recently acquired a very unusual tiara that set the elite tongues wagging in Europe. It was not your typical ‘those diamonds are blinding me’ kind of tiara but more of a ‘1970s arts and crafts’ tiara that definitely pushed the boundaries of regular design.

I truly believe that Australian jewellers need to think and act differently. It’s time to push the safe, dated and boring designs to the side and start inspiring customers to spend their money on beautiful, artistic jewellery.

Even though I am a total ‘newbie’ to the jewellery game, I am throwing my hat in the ring. Who will get in with me?

After all, if Davis was able to transform herself with passion and will then can’t we too?

Name: Mark McGuire
Business: Celestial Fine Jewels
Position: creative director
Location: Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: three

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