When you have 450 square feet of space to run a manufacturing facility, you make every inch count—and Seattle-based Goldmine Design has been doing just that since 1994. Sitting street-side off Seattle’s 1st Avenue, Goldmine has turned a small workspace into a jewelry-making powerhouse complete with dreams turned realities, a devotion to handcraftsmanship in all things, and a thrilling, fiery experience for patrons daring enough to cast their own jewelry.
Cultivating this unique experience are master jewelry artisans Cindi Hansen and Mary Elizabeth. Using their combined experience and know-how, Cindi and Mary create individualized experiences and lifetime memories in their cozy workshop with one call to the world: “We invite you to become part of the creative process!”
Goldmine Design Stands Out
Goldmine is a total custom operation. No piece has ever been made twice, and all casting is done in-house on a small vintage centrifugal casting machine originally used in a dentist’s office. And in addition to this complete custom experience, Goldmine takes things a step further with an intimate twist on the process: Patrons are able to actually participate in the casting of their jewelry. We call it casting in Seattle!
It all begins with a personalized consultation resulting in the necessary customer sketches, designs, photographs, and more. Next comes the wax model of the unique piece to come, built using a homebrewed CAD program and a homemade mill designed and built along with a friend and customer who they describe as a technical whiz. “We’re makers of things,” explains Cindi modestly.
Casting in Seattle: An Experience Like None Other
The transformation from a very creative yet fairly straightforward custom jewelry shop begins when the casting machine slides out of an unassuming cabinet drawer. And then you realize that all of the showcases also slide and roll as well. They’ve been built that way (also by Mary and Cindi) to allow the room to open up for their signature events.
The brilliant, amber glow of molten gold and its sleek, flowing movement are well known to all manufacturing jewelers, but it’s the rare customer who gets to see the casting actually take place. And it’s even rarer for a customer to actually take part in casting itself. Goldmine removes all physical barriers, inviting patrons into the immediate jewelry-making process and creating a bond between client and jeweler.
This experience is personal. Once patrons don protective eyewear and heavy-duty gloves, the casting begins. Wielding the torch and transforming solid precious metals into molten, silky, metallic lava before their own eyes, clients lead the charge (carefully supervised by Mary and Cindi, of course), helping their piece along through the casting process.
An event so special and visually alluring demands an audience—and that’s just what Goldmine invites. Patrons are encouraged to bring friends and family to witness the spectacle—the more, the merrier—and Goldmine keeps the occasion merry with complimentary snacks from nearby Pike Place Market. Here, there are no strangers, or at least no strangers for long, and warm smiles all around keep the energy high and atmosphere vibrant. And as the casting begins and the party starts, customers from the street are drawn to Goldmine like moths to the flame. It’s not unusual for the little shop to fill to the brim with gawking onlookers, many of whom end up becoming future customers themselves.
A Special Celebration Worthy of Special Celebrations
Jewelry is often key to the commemoration of a special event—an engagement, an anniversary, the birth of a child—and for Cindi and Mary at Goldmine, their casting parties only magnify the significance of the chosen piece. It’s a great way to not only create a special moment but also to create a unique bond with their customers—one that often results in years of continued business and ringing endorsements leading to more business down the road.
“The idea is to have an open shop and be open,” Cindi explains. “We’re not designer-oriented. We’re customer oriented.” With the world of jewelry retail changing so rapidly, the warm buzz of people you’re likely to see around Goldmine Design on a casting day is a great example of the way that many Stuller customers are reaching out to their own customers—using ancient techniques, creativity, and originality to create the jewelry industry of the future.
Follow Goldmine Design on Facebook to keep up with customers casting in Seattle. Then consider hosting your own customer casting event. Would this work in your area? Let us know in the comments below.