Creative Journey in a White/Space

Khadijah Fulton, owner and designer of White/Space, has had a busy six months. On the one hand, the small group of manufacturing artisans that helped her with large orders and busy seasons had to close for California’s stay-at-home order. She found herself filling all orders from her successful e-commerce business. Amazingly, the orders kept coming in.

On the other hand, she has two sons, ages 5 and 10, who have been home and learning online, which regularly impacts her bench time. Let’s note that Khadijah considers herself a mother first and a designer second. “All of our routines have been interrupted, and it’s just as stressful for them as it is for me. My 10 year old does pretty well, but my younger one is in kindergarten, and online classes prove challenging. He’ll sit for a while, then get up to play or come to see me.”

Khadijah Fulton, Founder and Designer, White/Space

The Beginning of White/Space Jewelry

Ironically, Khadijah was a designer long before she had her children. She graduated from Parson’s School of Design in NYC, then spent 10 hectic years in the fashion industry as a designer for brand name clothing lines. After Khadijah had her first child, she wanted to slow down her life, arranging her schedule around her child. She branched out into jewelry as a way to express her creativity.

White/Space Continuity Ring
White/Space Continuity Ring in recycled gold

She tries to keep her White/Space bestsellers in stock, making other pieces to order. Like any number of jewelers who’ve found themselves busy during COVID-19, Khadijah attributes her business growth to a couple of factors:

  • First, with travel and cruises out of the picture and dining out limited, jewelry plays an even more vital role in celebrations and feel-good moments. And when people choose a gift, they often spend more than they typically would.  
  • Second, her loyal, supportive customers who want to see her through this difficult time. “I hope a lot of jewelers have seen this. And it lifts your spirits that these customers are thinking of you when we all have so much to process. With so many people at home, they feel more conscious of their choices. They want to support local businesses and businesses that align with their values.”
  • “The Black Lives Matter movement has also helped my business grow,” Khadijah says. “It focused attention on black-owned businesses, and I saw my orders surge through June and July. It’s more settled now, but I’m still busier than I was a year ago.”

Fortunately, she connected with an artisan jeweler who lives near her home outside Los Angeles, which helped her keep up with the volume. And recently her artisan manufacturers in downtown Los Angeles re-opened, so she’s working with them again. “For several months, I had to chain myself to my bench for evenings and weekends to get my work done, so I’m grateful that I can share the load.”

White/Space Pink Pearl Swingback Earrings
White/Space Pink Pearl Swingback Earrings

Looking Ahead

Khadijah sells her designs in selective retail outlets, and she’s recently taken on new wholesale partners. But facing the future, she wants to focus on building her internal team to continue growing her direct sales alongside these wholesale relationships. 

“I want to build my brand, and I’ll need a team to help me grow,” she says. “I’m looking forward to finding great people that believe in the potential of White/Space as much as I do.”

She would like to focus on a bridal offering and take on more custom design for 2021. “By having a team in place, I’ll have more time to focus on designing more styles that my customers love and creating even more meaningful pieces for them, which I find the most rewarding parts of my job. As designers and jewelers, we get the privilege of making vessels for their sentiments, memories, and most treasured connections.”

Behind the Name

When Khadijah named her business White/Space, she thought of it in design terms: an open space that invites creativity and personal expression. In the last few years, through the BLM movement, it has taken on other connotations.

“I’ve worked in ‘white spaces’ much of my adult life in a real sense, working for larger companies where I was one of very few (or the only) Black designer on the creative team, and now in the jewelry industry, which also has the same issues,” she explains.

“But working for myself, I’m excited to be part of the change that both industries need, building a visible, distinctive, luxury brand and doing it as a Black woman. Hopefully, in the future, young creatives of color will grow up seeing even more successful designers that look like them and will feel like they would be welcomed into our industry.”

So far, this approach is leading her in the right direction.

White/Space Oona Empress Earrings
White/Space Oona Empress Earrings


Read more about Khadijah in The Holiday Issue of From the Bench




Utilize Scheduling to Amp Up Your Social Media Strategy

It’s a given that managing your business’s social media platform is hard, especially when you have more important things to do (like run a business). But did you know that in 2019, at least 90% of U.S. businesses used social media for marketing purposes? That’s why it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and optimize your social media strategy to benefit you, your time at work, and your business.

What is scheduling on social media?

Scheduling your posts on social media is essentially just creating your posts at an earlier date and using a scheduling tool to post on a designated date and time. I recommend putting some time aside each week (or even each month) to create the posts that you’d like to schedule in the future. Making a social media calendar is so beneficial, and it will make your life easier. I promise! All you need to do is find a monthly calendar online, and start filling it in. Here is an example of the calendar overview I use as Stuller.

Social-Media-Scheduling-Calendar

Why should I schedule my social media posts?

 It is important to consistently post on your social channels. As far as frequency of posting, I don’t think there is a magic number of posts per day or per week that you should be putting out. My advice is to just be consistent. If you can dedicate one post a day, that’s great! If you want to post Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays–awesome! Just remember consistency is key.

How do I schedule?

At Stuller, we use the social media management platform Later to schedule posts on Instagram and Twitter. There is a free plan, but the paid subscriptions are as cheap as $9/month. Later supports scheduling on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Social-Media-Scheduling-Later

Facebook has a tool called Creator Studio that allows you to schedule Facebook and Instagram posts. You can do things like schedule, post, backdate, or even save posts as drafts through Creator Studio. Facebook recently moved all of its scheduling abilities to Creator Studio, and it’s fairly easy to use.  So get used to it and have fun!

Social-Media-Scheduling-Facebook-Creator-Studio

Watch my Facebook Live Learning Series webinar on the basics of social media here to learn more about scheduling as well as other tips for getting started on Facebook! 


For more Social Media tips, check out the Summer 2020 edition of From the Bench.




FTB-Education-2020-Summer-Blog-Heidi-Low

Heidi Lowe’s Unexpected Good Fortune

ftb Spring 2020 Heidi Lowe earringsWe feature Heidi Lowe in the new ftb on education, which is out now. During her 30 years as a jeweler in Rehoboth, Delaware, she has divided her time among custom jewelry for her clients, creating her own designs, and teaching jewelry classes both at her studio and universities.

With all the recent upheaval due to COVID-19, I touched base with her to see how she is doing. I was amazed by what she related.

The last time we spoke, her business had outgrown its 450-square-foot cottage/studio. Her contractor husband tore it down and is building her a 1650-square-foot shop with plenty of room to grow. Meanwhile, she had rented a tiny studio in a nearby town. ”I envisioned having time to focus on my own designs, and learn new techniques. Instead, I ended up busier than ever and able to keep the two younger jewelers I employ, working with me.”

Then COVID-19 hit. “I had no idea what it would be like or how I’d make it through,” she says. ”I figured it would be bad for my business, but beyond that, I had no idea. I have to say I didn’t imagine how well things have gone. I just had an amazing month. I’m busy every day, and I have a different focus.”

Heidi credits her long-time customers — some local and some who have moved away from Delaware — and her strong relationships with them. Before COVID-19, her studio and website featured 10-12 pieces by each of 50 designers she’d come to know over the years. She concentrated her work on her custom design clients, small collections, and her teaching.

Now she’s devoting herself to new designs and showing them on Instagram. “People message me if they want to buy a piece. Honestly, customers are buying everything I make. It’s out of the goodness of their hearts,” she says. “They want to be sure I’m surviving the shutdown. I find their concern very . . .” Her voice trails off.

She’s making most of her pieces in sterling with prices ranging from $150-$350. But she’s also had ten significant orders. “This involves phone calls and sending sketches and pictures back and forth until my customer is happy with the design. I’m inspired by how much they trust me.”

ftb Spring 2020 Heidi Lowe

She has a lot of work right now, and she’s using the opportunity to nurture her creativity. This is how she imagined this time while she waits for her new store. “I get better results, and clients are happier with what I create. It takes me longer to work this way, but I enjoy it, and customers are willing to wait.”

Heidi has always put extra effort into building close relations with customers, and during this challenging time, this work had paid off. “I’m naturally interested in understanding people, and it’s an important part of the designs I’m creating for them,” she says. “They want to know about me and my creativity because it makes each piece of jewelry special and personal.”

During this time, Heidi has given back to her creative community by offering her popular webinar, Abundance for Creatives, free. “Participation was incredible,” she says. “So I gave it twice. In one, I had 75 people, and 73 in the other.”

What lies ahead? Like the rest of us, Heidi isn’t really sure. She’s designed a line of gold jewelry and carved them, but she doesn’t want to cast he pieces until she’s open fulltime.

For more on Heidi’s store, click here.

 


Read more about Heidi’s passion for education in the Summer 2020 edition of From the Bench




FTB-Education-2020-Blog-Doug-Meadows

Doug Meadows Goes the Distance

In late February 2019, Doug Meadows left the comfort of his Atlanta store far behind and traveled to Lusaka, Zambia. He’s there to teach a class of eager pupils, a group of young women ranging in age from 18 to 30. This was no ordinary class and not just because it was happening so far from home. It represented a goal Doug has worked toward through years of trips to African countries. He wanted to mentor businesses and share his jewelry expertise to help people improve their economic status and lives. He has been teaching this group for some years now.

Training Jewelers in Zambia

His students have a bare-bones workshop located in Lusaka’s slums. It has intermittent power, resulting in insufficient light. But the women are undaunted, happy to have a place to work, and grateful for the opportunities it gives them. Doug has helped them compensate for the power problems with battery-powered drills. They also have propane-fueled torches that he taught them to use. They do much of their work by hand.

The women create hand-fashioned jewelry from recycled copper that they sell to stores in Finland, South Africa, and a few in the U.S. But copper tarnishes and, as they seek to expand their markets, this poses a problem. “I’m a solutions guy, “ Doug says. “So, I immediately thought of gold plating the jewelry to elevate it, prevent tarnish, and broaden its appeal.”

Doug tapped his industry contacts to arrange a shipment of tools and supplies in August 2019 and returned to Lusaka in October 2019, to teach a group of the women how to do the gold plating. Unfortunately, the shipment was still in Customs only to be released the day before he left. That gave him one day to teach. Fortunately, he had brought a video of the training he did at Legor. He left this with them and promised to return for more instruction after the holiday season. Hence, the late February visit.

Dawn Close, the American missionary who runs the orphanage where the women live, has played a central role in supporting the burgeoning jewelry business. She has helped the women get grants to offset the cost of equipment and Doug’s travel, and she has helped them find markets.

As Doug reviews gold plating technique with a small group of women, the others continue to fashion their creations, completely engrossed in their work. It represents a level of economic independence and, most importantly, hope for a better future.

What He’s Learned

Doug says he’s learned more from these young women than they’ve learned from him. But I’m not sure they would agree. He’s taught them about gemstone faceting and lab-grown diamonds. He’s helped them get essential tools and how to use them. He’s helped them get and set up benches. And now he’s added gold plating to their skills.

“I’m blown away by what they’ve accomplished with very little,” he says. “It inspires me and speaks to their spirit and determination. I stay in regular touch with them and plan to help in any way I can. It’s been a gift to be part of this.”

His Own Path

For Doug, education is an ongoing pursuit. “Life is education. I’ve learned from everyone who has worked for me, from my customers, from jewelers I meet at conferences, and from business people I meet in my community and beyond.”


For the full story on Doug’s journey to Zambia, check out the Summer 2020 edition of From the Bench.




FTB-Education-2020-Blog-Dianna-Rae

Dianna Rae’s Creative Haven

ftb Spring 2020 Dianna RaeIn 2014, Dianna Rae opened Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, Louisiana, and it soon became the city’s custom design mecca. Its custom made interior is an airy, light-filled space that exudes her welcoming presence. And the cases feature stunning custom designs by Dianna and the store’s other two designers.

Custom Creation 

Dianna knew that to attract customers, she had to create a unique experience. For 35 years in the business, custom design had been her focus, so it made sense to devote her store to it. In addition to designing for customers, she and the store’s other two designers create the jewelry in the cases. “My love for unique colored gemstones leads me to create a variety of designs from funky to vintage,” she says. “The jewelry that I design for our cases centers around colored gemstones. I also do a lot of remount and special request designs for my clients. I listen to their story and help them turn that into jewelry.”

Opal Round Tableftb Spring 2020 Dianna Rae Customer Event

“Opals are intrinsically mysterious and vary dramatically in colors,” Dianna says. “Customers really respond to them because they seem to be alive. We began our gemstone education with opals and held it at the store.” Interest grew, and it wasn’t long before Dianna had to move the event to a local restaurant to have adequate seating. She has an opals expert come and talk about the different types while attendees look at a wide selection.

The store’s Gemstone Round Table uses the same format. Customers view a wide selection of beautiful and exotic gemstones presented by a gemstone expert. “When customers decide which opal or gemstone they want,” Dianna says, “we schedule an appointment to help them design a piece of jewelry that shows it off to best effect.” She offers each of these classes twice a year.

Designing with Customers

“Our goal with the design process is to bring out the client’s inner designer and guide them through the process step-by-step,” Dianna says. “Some come in with a picture of a piece they like, but with CounterSketch®, hand sketches, and Matrix®, we can show them many more possibilities. We help them achieve their goal of a unique design.”And clients love the process. When Dianna and her design staff use their CAD software, they enhance the customer experience by printing the jewelry on the store’s 3D printer.


For more on Dianna’s journey and why she loves calling Lafayette, Louisiana home, check out her full feature in the Summer 2020 edition of From the Bench.




tumbling media

Tumbling Media for Jewelry: Finding the Right One

You’ve heard of tumbling media for finishing jewelry; you’ve probably even used it. But there are many kinds, and each one has characteristics that make it better suited for one type of project, finish, or tumbler.

This handy guide, featured in From the Bench’s Repair Issue, will help you make the right choice and achieve better results with your jewelry.

What’s the Difference?

Tumbling media abrades against your jewelry to remove unwanted material. Applications include deburring, polishing, burnishing, and removing fire scale. Create your desired surface finish by choosing media based on characteristics like size, shape, and composition.

Tumbling Media 1: Stainless Steel Pins

Stainless steel pins leave a semi-bright finish in a short amount of time, perfect for use right after casting. Use stainless steel pins with a magnetic tumbler, along with Stuller’s finishing soap.

47-5055 stainless steel pins

47-5055

Tumbling Media 2: Treated Walnut Shell

This media can be used on all metals to produce an excellent mirror finish. Use it in a vibratory or barrel tumbler.

47-5216 treated walnut shell

47-5216

Tumbling Media 3: White Pyramids

These plastic, pyramid-shaped media have a medium-cut surface and produce a very fine cut surface conditioning. They’re best for soft metals, to leave a smooth finish with little shine. Use these in a vibratory or barrel tumbler.

47-5037

Tumbling Media 4: Stainless Steel Mixed Shot

Stainless steel shot is rust- and corrosion-resistant, requires no special storage, and is ideal for use in wet, flow-through systems. Used in a vibratory or barrel tumbler, this stainless-steel shot leaves pieces bright and clean, burnishing metals to a mirror finish.

47-5241

Tumbling Media 5: Porcelain Balls

Because of their shape, 2-mm porcelain balls impart a single point of contact, leaving a very fine finish to almost any area it reaches. It’s very popular for delicate parts, fine-edge blanking, and precious metal burnishing. Use them in a vibratory or barrel tumbler to create a bright finish with less distortion.

47-5039

Tumbling Media 6: Brown Pyramids

These plastic, pyramid-shaped media have a medium-cut surface and produce very fine surface conditioning. These pyramids are best for soft metals, to leave a smooth finish with little shine. Use them in a vibratory or barrel tumbler.

47-5037

Tumbling Media 7: Ceramic Polyhedrons

Ceramic is the heaviest tumbling media and the fastest finisher. Its polyhedron shape is great for grinding and polishing hard metals. It’s also good for deburring machined, casted, and fabricated parts. Use it in a vibratory or barrel tumbler.

47-5057


Explore tumbling media, other finishing tools and supplies, plus talk to experts and more during Stuller’s Bench Jeweler Workshop, March 27-28, 2020. Register by February 17 to take advantage of early-bird pricing.




10 Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency Blog Header

10 Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency In Your Workspace

You’ve briefed yourself on your game plan, you’ve started stocking your bench, and you’re gearing up for the approaching customer tidal wave. The holiday season is on the horizon and it’s time to prepare your workspace for the slew of jewelry it’ll be seeing.

 

Here are 10 jewelry-making tools for efficiency to help you handle the demanding selling season ahead.

 

Leica® Bench Microscope • 29-4758

With its zoom and focus knobs, this easily operable microscope is perfect for detail work and can be adjusted to the user’s preferences.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency Leica Bench Microscope

GRS® Microblock XL Ball Vise • 26-4219

Made for stone setting and engraving, this vise is the perfect size between the GRS Microblock and the GRS Standard Block. Plus, it works well with GRS attachments and accessories.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency GRS Microblock XL Ball Vise

GRS® GraverSmith Pneumatic Power Tool • 26-4013

Ideal for jewelers on a budget, this versatile tool offers basic work capability for stone setting and engraving at a smaller cost than fully-featured machines — but with no sacrifice on work quality.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency GRS GraverSmith Pneumatic Power Tool

NSK Micromotor Kit • 35-1237

The NSK Micromotor offers both balance and motor power for smooth handling. The FiXpeed® system grants independent footswitch operation for the A and B motors, bringing you unprecedented versatility.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency NSK Micromotor Kit

Jeweler‘s Workbench • 13-0750

Made of sturdy composite multilayer material and featuring ten drawers for maximum storage, this workbench is a jeweler’s best friend. It will surely prepare you for the busy holiday season ahead.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency Jeweler‘s Workbench

Coherent®-Rofin Starweld Desktop Laser • 14-0135

Life is better with laser welders, and this one is perfect for small shops needing big power. You can do it all: last-minute holiday repairs, work near heat-sensitive stones, and boost your efficiency by 50%.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency Coherent-Rofin Starweld Desktop Laser

Asiga® Max™ X 3D Printer • 24-1192

Top performance, reliability, and 18 resins printed each hour — this 3D printer exceeds the needs of jewelers and casting houses. Meet your holiday demand with an Asiga®.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency Asiga Max X 3D Printer

Elmasteam Basic Steamer • 15-2050

This powerful steamer uses a combination of pressure, speed, and temperature to clean hard-to-reach crevices — on both jewelry and complicated tools like burs and drills.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency Elmasteam Basic Steamer

Arbe Variable Speed Magnetic Tumbler • 47-4153

This magnetic tumbler has a small footprint but does big things: it delivers a high-polish finish and cuts down your time on hand finishing. Your holiday work will sparkle and shine nonstop.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency Arbe Variable Speed Magnetic Tumbler

Legor Plating Unit • 45-4092

Maximize your plating productivity with the six one-liter tanks of this unit. This system supports plating from start to finish, making it a great plating time saver during the holiday crunch.

Jewelry-Making Tools for Efficiency Legor Plating Unit

Which jewelry-making tools for efficiency help enhance your workspace? Let us know in the comments below!




Watch Polishing Tips Blog Header

Wow Your Customers With These Watch Polishing Tips

“Wow! My watch looks great!”

 

Don’t you just love to hear those words from your customer after you deliver their watch repair? A customer’s first impression of the services you’ve rendered often sets the tone for the rest of the season. A great looking polished and refined case and band seems to validate the cost of your customer’s watch repair. After all, the exterior of the watch is all your customer gets to see. So in turn, your customers ultimately determine the acceptability of your work by its final exterior appearance.

Of course, it’s most important that all technical aspects of the watch movement are correct. After all, a great looking case and band will not cover up poor technical workmanship. On the other hand, however, a precisely performed watch repair installed in an unpolished or dirty case makes the entire job appear halfway done.

Here’s how to light your customers’ eyes with these simple watch polishing tips—

 

Watch Polishing Tips Beau Allain Headshot

Meet Beau Allain —Certified Watch Repairman

Beau Allain’s Top Watch Polishing Tips

Remember, plated cases need to be cleaned in the ultrasonic and not buffed or polished. Here are a few of Beau’s top watch polishing tips—

  • Keep in mind that you never want to over polish. It affects the look of the watch, and you can’t undo it.
  • Before polishing a two-tone watch, determine if it’s plated otherwise you’ll polish off the gold plating. A high end, two-tone watch will be stainless and gold — either 14K or 18K — eliminating this concern.
  • I like to polish with a 11/2” muslin buff (17-6431). It has good tension and the width means I can apply the polish with one side, then remove the polish with the other side without changing buffs.
  • When you’re polishing a satin band, I like to start with a lower micron buff, then come back with a Bergeron Satin Wheel (17-8743).

Watch Polishing Tips Shawn Albert Headshot

Meet Shawn Albert — Tools Product Manager, Stuller

Shawn Albert’s Watch Polishing Tips

Keep it Crystal Clear

As a final thought, we find that people who do the best jobs in their professions do the little extra things better than anyone else. So here is an often-overlooked detail. How about the scratches on the watch crystal? Many times that part of the watch is neglected. And, after all, it is the place we look to actually see the time. Do you polish the crystal? It is the extra touch you can give to make the customer’s first impression one they will remember and tell their friends about. Try the Crystal-Kleer (Re-New-All) Plastic Renewer (47-3100) and the PolyWatch Scratch Remover (64-5100) as good scratch removers for all of those plastic crystals.

Using Merard Watch Masking Tape

Here’s a quick step-by-step for a smooth watch polishing process

watch polishing tips tools needed

Tools needed: 47-323134-2242 • 47-3225

watch polishing tips 3mm masking tape

Mask areas on the watch you don’t want polished

watch polishing tips buffing

Put that high luster finish on metal bands and cases

watch polishing tips difference polish left right side

Notice the polished (right) vs. unpolished (left) links

watch polishing tips wrist try on

Take that extra time that your competitors don’t with these watch polishing tips to make those cases, bands, and crystals pop! Then, you’ll be pleased when you hear your customer say, “Wow! My watch looks great!”




Johana Ingram Harold Studio Stuller Blog FTB

Visions of Johanna Ingram: Jeweler and Teacher

These days, one hears much about the rise of the gig economy. One day you may jump into an Uber and discover the driver is your old schoolteacher out hustling a few bucks. But for jewelers, the side hustle is nothing new. Jewelers have always been multi-faceted, changing their offerings to meet changing needs and changing customers, whether that means using their metalworking skills to design a rodeo belt buckle, repair a lamp, or (as is often the case here in South Louisiana) create Mardi Gras crowns and tiaras.

New generations enter the business, and they bring new methods of supplementing their business and attracting customers. One trend gaining popularity is educational offerings. We hear about the insatiable demand for custom work, but there are many not content to stop there—they take the process a step further and get involved. They desire an experience. This is where education and business flexibility come in.

Johanna Ingram BW Headshot Harold Studio FTB

Meet Johanna Ingram

Some jewelers do jewelry full time and offer education on the side. Others have mastered the art of adaptation and built their business model around education yet continue to design and sell their own pieces.

Arizona jeweler Johanna Ingram, owner and operator of Harold Studio, is among the latter. Encouraged to pursue jewelry-making by the studio’s namesake, her “Grandpa Harold,” Johanna honored his supportive nature by creating an equally supportive learning environment. Harold Studio supports a spectrum of jewelry creators, offering supplies, studio space, and tools for rent for fellow jewelers; group and private classes for artisans looking to improve their craft; and co-creation for engaged couples.

Designer • Teacher • Businesswoman

Johanna Ingram bends her teaching style to her students. Be it an aspiring hobbyist who’s never seen a soldering iron or an artisan looking to boost their polishing skills. She offers step-by-step, one-on-one attention to give students the confidence to push themselves and try something new. Perfection isn’t the key here—not giving up is. Harold Studio’s Facebook proudly shines with the creations of students who stuck through the process.

The potential to turn these skills into a lifelong hobby or career is what appeals to many. One former Harold Studio student took what she learned from Johanna, created her own business from those skills, and continued the legacy of supporting industry newcomers.  “There is a woman who came here in some of our earlier days,” recounts Johanna Ingram. “She [now] has a business with several employees . . . and she teaches some Etsy classes here. She has well over 20,000 items sold on Etsy and sells online in her own shop now.”

Johanna Ingram Harold Studio FTB

Crafting with Couples

With the rise of Etsy, jewelry has never been more accessible and appealing to new demographics. This has increased the demand for jewelry education, particularly silversmithing and stone-setting classes. “There are tons of beginning jewelers cropping up now, and that is something you can really capitalize on,” Johanna says. And capitalize on it she has. In addition to offering group classes and one-on-one training, Johanna offers a fully guided, participative experience through the creation of jewelry for couples wanting to design and create their rings.

Despite most couples’ unfamiliarity with jewelry-making, Johanna makes the process as seamless and non-intimidating as possible. Couples explain their ideas, and Johanna devises a game plan.  She guides the process, assuring nervous clients that any mistakes won’t tarnish the final product. “Johanna was very reassuring that there was no way we could mess up beyond repair,” says one Facebook reviewer. Browsing Harold Studio’s online reviews reveal many more satisfied couples.

Letting couples lead the creation process builds lasting loyalty and forges lifelong memories. By removing the intangible barrier between dream and production, the barrier between customer and jeweler dissolves, allowing for the formation of a deeper bond that retains customer loyalty. When asked where they bought their rings, Johanna’s clients can boast, “We created them together at Harold Studio.”

Johanna Ingram Harold Studio Pliers

With new consumers and technology entering and changing the nature of our industry, it’s worth remembering education is a powerful way to attract new markets and freshen your business. Be it offering private jewelry classes, guiding couples through ring co-creation, or giving an informal lecture on silversmithing, providing learning opportunities may be what you need to set your business apart. Read more about hosting your own customer events here

Check out all of the feature
stories in our newest edition
of From the Bench!


How do you connect with your community? Share your experiences in the comments below! Or email us at blog@stuller.com if you’d like to feature your store in our customer events series.




2018 Battle of the Benches Patrick Dobbs Blog Header

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Wrap-Up

At the end of March, Stuller welcomed more than 200 jewelers to the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop. The atmosphere was electric! The show floor buzzed with tradeshow-like energy. Live product demonstrations highlighted big brands like Asiga® 3D Printers, Orion™ Laser Welders, and Best Built Engravers, to name just a few. The back to back class schedule included basic diamond grading, social media photography, working with platinum, and many more.

Watch the official Bench Jeweler Workshop 2018 Recap

Meet the Experts

Stuller welcomed industry experts onto the show floor to flex their skills and share their expertise.

  • Master Engraver Sam Alfano, best known for his intricate designs, precise detail, and flawless execution, demonstrated his talent using a GRS® engraver on the demo floor.
  • Manufacturing Maven Dana Fawbush, known for his custom jewelry designs and manufacturing practices, showed onlookers the ins and outs of setting in platinum.
  • Master Goldsmith Jason Chandler from the Portland Jewelry Academy brought metal forming alive on the show floor using the latest techniques.
  • Goldsmith Kelly Williams, owner of K.W. Goldsmith and creator of Whiplash Designs, exhibited her hand engraving skills in real time. Here’s a sample of her incredible work.

 

The 3rd Annual Battle of the Benches® Competition Begins!

Meet the Contestants

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop David Adamson

David Adamson

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Patrick Dobbs

Patrick Dobbs

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Craig Farley

Craig Farley

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Jyothi Forman.

Jyothi Forman

Read all about the Battle of the Benches competitors and their extensive skillsets here

Day 1: From CAD to Complete

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop David Adamson Round 1

David Adamson

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Jyothi Forman Round 1

Jyothi Forman

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Patrick Dobbs Round 1

Patrick Dobbs

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Craig Farley Round 1

Craig Farley

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Brian Clark Round 1

Brian Clark

To enter Battle of the Benches, participants had to submit a qualifying CAD design to catch our attention. Then, to begin the competition, each competitor brought their designs to life in real time. With a crowd of onlookers and distractions at every turn, our five challengers forged stunning masterpieces.

And the winner is . . . Craig Farley

After nearly thirty minutes of deliberation, the judging panel named Craig Farley’s creation the first day’s winner. His contemporary East-West design featured a dazzling oval-cut Swarovski Peridot center stone. The split shank design with beaded and diamond accents landed the top spot. This intricately crafted design was completely on-trend.

Breaking News!

When the competition is live, anything can happen! After an intense first day, defending champion, Jyothi Forman fell sick and couldn’t compete. Enter: Brian Clark, Master Jeweler from All American Jewelry Designers, Inc. The standby competitor was rushed to the show floor to fill Jyothi’s spot.

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Brian Clark

Day 2: Parts & Pieces Challenge

Day two of the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop required challengers to build a piece of their choosing from an array of raw materials. The competitors could create their designs using any tools on the demo floor. Equipment ranged from fully-stocked model benches, laser welders, engravers, plating units — everything they needed. Contestants were hard to track down as they whisked about the demo floor completing their tasks.

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Patrick Dobbs

Patrick Dobbs

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Criag Farley Round 2

Craig Farley

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Brian Clark Round 2

Brian Clark

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop David Adamson Round 2

David Adamson

And the winner is . . . Patrick Dobbs

Having competed in this competition before, Dobbs was able to learn from his experience to improve his performance. After fumbling to complete his piece in the 2016 competition, Patrick knew what was necessary to dominate this year. From the onset, he reminded himself, “make it simple, make it beautiful, make it easy to complete” (especially going up against such talented competitors). His winning design combined an organic form with beaming diamond accents and a large Swarovski Blue Zircon center stone.

Day 3: The Finish Line Challenge

In today’s fast-changing jewelry industry, CAD is arguably the most powerful tool in a jeweler’s workshop. So it’s only appropriate that the final challenge hinged on building a contest-winning CAD design. The instructions read:

“A few weeks ago, the world recently celebrated International Women’s Day. The day recognizes the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
While there are women in our personal lives that have impacted all of us, your task is to create a statement ring, necklace, or bracelet for a well-known, prominent woman. 

It can be a historical figure, or someone currently paving the way for future generations to flourish.
You can design for any well-known iconic female you choose.” 

Patrick Dobbs 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop CAD

Patrick Dobbs

David Adamson 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop CAD

David Adamson

Craig Farley 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop CAD

Craig Farley

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Brian Clark CAD

Brian Clark

Each of the competitors came up with a unique design for the iconic lady of their choosing. David Adamson used RhinoGold to create his CAD design, while the other three competitors used Matrix®.

  • Patrick Dobbs created a contemporary blue sapphire ring for the late Princess Diana.
  • David Adamson designed a piece inspired by unity and togetherness for Michelle Obama.
  • Craig Farley devised an intricately-beaded necklace for the ancient Egyptian ruler Cleopatra.
  • Brian Clark’s creation was in honor of Dolly Parton who pioneered the Imagination Library program.

And the winner is . . . Patrick Dobbs

Patrick set out to create an exciting concept for this project. “I had the hardest time coming up with it [his design]. I came up with it by thinking about the Elton John song [Candle in the Wind]. And that’s where I came up with the whole idea and thought process. Then I was off and running!”

Grand Champion: Patrick Dobbs

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Champion Patrick Dobbs

“It was a tough decision because they were all amazing,” said Battle of the Benches judge, Angela Busby. “The competitors gave their all, and it definitely showed in the final product.” In the end, the judging panel named Patrick Dobbs the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Champion of the Battle of the Benches Challenge.


Special Guests

In Good Company 

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop In Good Company

Stuller welcomed Adam Voss and his team to the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop to film the fifth iteration of Stuller’s In Good Company mini-series. The film crew shot live demos and interviewed Workshop attendees, including Brian Barnes (pictured above).

Watch the In Good Company mini-series here

Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology 

2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology

Patrick Dobbs represented the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology. Over twenty students visited the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop to experience the tools, training, software, and expertise Stuller offers. “I wanted to draw attention to the school — one of the finest jewelry schools in the country,” Patrick explained. “I went to school there, and it’s where I got all my knowledge. I’m on the board and helping with the curriculum. So I just wanted to make sure people were aware of this school still.”

A Special Thanks

A very special thanks to Swarovski Gemstones for donating the stones used in the Battle of the Benches competition.


That’s a wrap — the 2018 Bench Jeweler Workshop was a roaring success! Did you attend? Which seminar was your favorite? How was the experience overall? Tell us in the comment section below.