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My Bench












My Bench: Andy McGee

AUGUST SPOTLIGHT:
Andy McGee loves the vibrant colours of Namibian tourmaline and Argyle pink diamonds.
Andy McGee


Works at: Stelios Jewellers, Perth WA

Age: 48

Years in trade: 34 years

Training: 7-year apprenticeship to obtain New Zealand Technical Certificate in Metalsmithing and Jewellery

First job: After-school engraver at Skelts Jewellers in Invercargill, New Zealand in 1987

Other qualifications: De Beers diamond qualifications, and 34 years of on-the-job training!

SIGNATURE PIECE:
 
‘LUGGER’ BROOCH
STOCK PIECE

I made this piece 15 years ago and it is one of my absolute favourites. It is entirely handmade using 18-carat white and yellow gold, platinum and titanium, and set with diamonds and Australian South Sea pearls. It is named ‘Lugger’ after the sailing vessel you can see in the design.

Favourite gemstone:

Erongo tourmaline from Namibia due to the fusion of colours that seamlessly change and transition through the gem, and Argyle pink diamonds! The more I have worked with them over the years, the greater my appreciation of their colour spectrum. It never ceases to amaze!

Favourite metal:

18-carat yellow gold because I don’t have to rhodium-plate it. It’s such a refreshing change too as the decade has been dominated by white metals.

Favourite tool:

Foredom Brushless Micromotor. I have used it nearly every day for 14 years and have only ever had to replace one collet!

Best new tool discovery:

My 65mm saw frame with polishing ribbons. With the world of CAD today there really aren’t too many places you can’t polish with this bad boy.

Best part of job:

Being able to sit with a customer, source and select the gemstones with them, and then turn the two-dimensional design into a 3D art piece to be adored – and adorned – for generations to come.

Worst part of job:

Not having a gold and diamond mine in my backyard to make everything less expensive to meet customer’s expectations! Also, having to re-educate customers who have been blatantly misinformed by poorly-trained sales staff.

Best tip from a jeweller:

At the end of the day, jewellery is the winner!

Best tip to a jeweller:

It’s not too late to learn to lay bricks!

Biggest health concern on the bench:

The average life expectancy of a jeweller in the early 1900s was 42, I’m on borrowed time daily.

Love jewellery because:

Every day is different, every customer is unique, and every piece has its own unique challenges. Plus, the amazing friends I have made in the industry over the years and the fact my work will stay ‘alive’ long after I am gone.

 

 

 

 

 

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