Thursday, 13 October 2016

Reusing Rose Gold and Odd Stones

Here is another commission completed a few weeks ago but with a less brutal twist.

This gorgeous moonstone had fallen out of an old silver ring so we made it a new setting and the soldered the new setting onto a old Victorian rose gold ring that had had a few opals set into it.
So the original hallmark of the ring was maintain and the original proportions, it just has a much better looking stone on the top!

The result is a really pretty stunning ring.

If you are interested in remodelling any jewellery, if we are able to we maybe able to reuse and old ring and give it a new lease of life.
Contact us here:

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Gold Signet Rings for the Girls

A couple of weeks ago we were asked to create a gold signet ring for a customer's niece who was turning 18.
We have made a few of these for the same family as it seems to be tradition that the girls have one, a fantastic tradition if you ask me!
Each of the girls have a small round faced gold signet ring in various carats of gold (as sometimes gold was provided with each order to use in the creation of the ring).
All of the rings have been hand engraved with a monogram of each girls initials and each one looks stunning.
What a great tradition to have in the family.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Recycling Old Jewellery in to New

Earlier this summer we completed a commission from a lovely local lady who had a collection of old pieces that she had inherited from her Mother.
The pieces included a rose gold hollow bangle, gold brooch (also hollow) and 3 rings of various carats and set with diamond, sapphires, pearls and possibly emeralds.
See the picture.
After a few initial ideas it was decided that a stacking ring set would be a good idea and would mean that the stones could be used as well as the metal.
The great thing with a stacking ring set is that the impact of all of the rings is fabulous, but they can be worn individually too to change the look.
All of the stone were removed from the gold and all of the pieces were thoroughly cleaned to remove ages of dirt.
After the clean all of the pieces were added to the melting pot and were all melted down. The colour of gold resulting was a little surprising as we had anticipated that the colour would be yellow as the rings and the brooch were, but the colour produced was a fantastic soft warm pink.
It would be classified as rose gold, but not as strong as modern rose gold.
The metal was then rolled down into fine wire and then bent and soldered to form rings.
We decided to use the largest pearl from the rings and the sapphire aswell as some of the diamonds and emeralds.
We hit a small issue with the emeralds, taking them out of the ring, as they were damaged and irregular cut, we suspect that they may have been glass rather than emerald, which is a shame.
We made settings for the pearl and sapphire and finished setingt the diamonds in a more traditional but very pretty setting style.
The last ring was given a hammered finish to complete the set.

And here was the customers reaction:
"Just say thank you so much for the wonderful work you have done for me.  I didn’t imagine that the final look of the commissioned rings would be so stunning!!

The old jewellery had sat in a box for nearly 8 years since Mum passed and to think I could have been enjoying wearing such beautiful rings in that time.  They are absolutely gorgeous, superb craftswoman-ship and beautiful to wear."

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Emma Bridgewater Visits Corbridge

Earlier in the year, Forum Books in Corbridge organised a talk by Emma Bridgewater to coincide with the release of her new book Pattern & Design; The Secrets of Lasting Design. Emma Bridgewater is famous for her pretty patterned mugs and crockery and dinnerware (and much more now) which is all made in Stoke on Trent. The patterns are based on a cream background and can range from nieve spongewear to artistic fonts. They are instantly recognisable.
Emma Bridgewater latest book. Pattern and the Secrets of Lasting Design.

The Angel was packed out with fans of her work and Emma gave us all an insight into some of her most famous patterns which feature on her pottery and how the designs have developed, changed and been reimagined over the past few years.

As a small business owner and craftsman it was fascinating to hear how Emma and her husband Matthew work together as a team to create the patterns and to see a little into her world.

Emma is a self assured and shrewd business woman, which is not what I was expecting, she has a business worth £11 million in 2010 so she must be good! But despite being a great business woman she still seems very down to earth and unfazed by the limelight.

The stories written about the various patterns in the book and her inspiration behind each one is fascinating. There is such a wealth of patterns and variations that Bridgewater have used over the years it is hard to understand where all of the ideas could have come from. There is a vast catalogue of designs at the back of the book and there is also a collectors club and a healthy second hand market noticeable on ebay. 

One of the things I took from the evening is that Emma Bridgewater is not afraid of discontinuing a pattern if it isn't working even if she adores it. If it doesn't make business or financial sense then it goes. But conversely this doesn't make her afraid of trying new things, sometimes a pattern comes back into fashion after years wallowing.
I think I could definitely learn a thing or two from that mantra.

My favourite Emma Bridgewater pattern which I'm lucky enough to own too is the Charm Bracelet collection that was produced on Porcelain, not her usual medium. The Charm Bracelet pattern is made up of curious charms and the odd gold sparkle and was available on a teapot and a tea set. I daren't use them as I love them so much!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Top 5 tips for Independent Shop Owners


As you probably know we have a tiny shop in Corbridge, Northumberland which is a fantastic hive of independent businesses set in a beautiful historic village. 
I’ve been in the Jubilee Buildings shop for 3 and half years and before then we were in a more modern shop in Bakery Yard and before that, in a shop tucked away behind a garage. A fair few locations and different set ups.

If you are thinking about taking the leap and setting up shop, here are my top 5 tips to setting up shop and keeping it running! 
Kirsty Taylor Jewellery Shop in Jubilee Buildings, Corbridge

1) Location, location, location. Despite being in the digital age and selling over the internet all over the world, local footfall is vital. Luckily, we do a lot of commission work and our customers are more than happy to seek us out but most of our day to day trade occurs because they are walking past the shop! We compromised on size and space to have our smaller shop in a better location and we really noticed it started to pay off in our first summer season in the new shop with all the tourists visiting Corbridge and Hadrian's Wall.

2) Smile and Chat. We have a tiny shop, it is pretty hard to ignore a customer, but we like to say Hi at the very least, it’s common courtesy. I’ll try my best to engaged them in conversation, but if they just want to browse in peace, that’s ok too. Let your enthusiasm for your shop and product show. 

3) Mix it up. It constantly surprises us that pieces sell straight  after they have moved to a different area in the shop. Move it around and freshen things up. We definitely still need to work on this  a lot more and the latest edition of Scarves from Hayley and Co. have helped to draw customers in to look at the scarves because the bright colours look so appealing.

4) Tomorrow is another day. There will be rubbish days. Days when you haven’t seen a soul or when you overhear someone slagging off your shop standing outside your door. The one that gets my goat is: ‘I don’t know how they make a living’ Resist the urge to shout down the street ‘Didn’t your Mum tell you if you had nothing nice to say to stay quiet?!!!!’
They aren’t your type of customer and they never will be. Concentrate your energy on those who will be you ideal customer.

5) Know you neighbours. Take time to chat to you neighbours and fellow shop keepers, you need each others support. Running a shop is hard enough but being able to recommend customers to other local shops will pay off. Tourists love an insider tip for the best places for lunch. 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Insider Secrets on Choosing a Diamond

What to look for when choosing a Diamond

It's all about the C's - Cut, Carat, Clarity and Colour.

Diamond Cut - Diamonds are cut so that the stone shows the most light, giving diamond-like lustre and light dispersion.  Probably the most popular is the "Brilliant" cut particularly for engagement and wedding rings.  Others include Cushion, Marquise, Trillion, Round, Princess and Square cuts.  Here's one of our Princess cut square diamond set in Palladium below.   Its important to choose a stone that will complement your hand size and shape.
Princess Cut Square
Diamond Carat - Diamonds are measured in Carats (not the orange variety).  One of the biggest diamonds ever found was in a mine in South Africa.  It weighted in at a staggering 3,106 carats.  It was cut down into 9 large Brilliant cut stones, and 96 others.  The largest of these stones is called the "Star of Africa" or "Cullinan 1" and now resides in the British Crown Jewels mounted in the Sovereign's Royal Sceptre.  This is a pear-cut diamond.  The higher your diamonds carat the more expensive it will normally be.
Sovereign's Royal Sceptre
Diamond Clarity - The price of a diamond will depend on its transparency and colour (or lack of colour).  Most diamonds will have minor inclusions or blemishes and can appear as whitish or cloudy marks, or cracks.  Flawless diamonds are rare and therefore fetch the highest of prices.  However flaws and inclusion are mostly only ever visible to the trained eye.  Their appearances can sometimes be beneficial to track their origin, a bit like fingerprints. 

Diamond Colour - A diamonds colour or hue will either detract or enhance its value.  Those with intense pink, yellow or blue are more valuable.  We work with champagne, chocolate, and other coloured diamonds.  The traditional clear diamonds are the most popular for engagement and wedding rings.  Here's one of our fabulous coloured diamonds set in a contemporary hammered yellow gold ring.  The warm rich yellow gold works perfectly against the intense chocolate diamonds hues.

Probably one of the most famous coloured diamonds is The Hope Diamond which is on display at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC.  The diamond is a wonderful blue/grey colour.  It is said to be cursed.  However these stories of death and tradegy may well have been fabricated to enhance the gemstones appeal, and increase its value.
The Hope Diamond

Other things to consider when choosing an engagement ring

Once you know the type of diamond you would like the next step is to choose the metal, and the setting.  These are both normally dictated by your budget.  Most engagement rings are made from Platinum or Palladium as they are hard wearing and resillient, and should last a lifetime.  Others choose white, rose or yellow gold.  Silver is sometimes used when the budget is tight.  If you have a very sparkly high quality diamond we would always recommend a strong sturdy metal like gold, platinum or palladium.

Place Holders Ring

A "Place Holders Ring" has become more popular over the last few years.  It can be a less expensive ring, a "Stand in" for the real thing.  This lets your loved one choose her own ring, and means you both get something that is to her taste, style and size.  Here at KTJ we have had a quite a few proposals over the years.  Some with place hold rings, just diamonds on their own, inherited rings that have been repaired or remodelled, and even a hula hoop.  

Popping the Question

The last thing to think about is how to pop the question.  I am afraid this is all down to you.  Just remember one thing, the story of how you proposed is something she will tell all her family/friends and future children.  Its a life changing question so be sure to get it right.  Timing is everything, but location and other props (cocktail or two) may help.

If you would like more details on how to choose your perfect diamond or engagement ring then pop into the shop, give us a call or drop us an email.  We promise to keep it hush hush!

Good luck

Kirsty Taylor and Team

Friday, 20 May 2016

Mary Portas Queen of Shops visits Hexham!

As part of Hexham Book Festival  Mary Portas spent an evening talking about her most recent book, Shop Girl: A memoir

In the book Mary talks about her days as a child in a large Irish family and the role her Mother had to play in her life and the devastating loss of her Mother when Mary was in her teens. After a difficult period helping to bring up her brother, her father's remarriage, his eventual death and subsequent loss of her family home, Mary recalls how retail was her escape. 

The evening was led by Claire Malcolm who asked Mary more in depth about her life and was followed by questions from the audience. 
There were surprisingly a lack of questions from the audience, which was slightly disappointing as Mary is such an engaging character I could have listened to her chatting all night. 

Many of the questions focused on the retail side of her work and her thoughts and ideas about the modern high street and her experiences on Mary Queen of Shops. She passed comment on Hexham and the abundance of shops and the lacklustre in the local department store Beales. 

In real life Mary is funny and engaging with strong ideas and opinions. It was quite shocking to hear about the difficulties she faced in her teens with the loss of her Mother and Father and I can't help but marvel at what she has accomplished.
She really is an inspiration. 

My lovely friend Hayley decided to buy her book at the end of the evening and I dutifully joined her and decided to queue for an autograph. Right at the last minute I decided to put aside my usual reserve and ask for my picture to be taken with her. 

Mary kindly asked what I did and I told her I was a Goldsmith (her eyes immediately went to my hands) and she asked how the retail environment was. Completely star struck I managed a 'it's a difficult trading environment at the moment'. Oh dear. 

Here is my picture: