A second generation craftsman who once cut his teeth (and some extraordinary diamonds) in London’s prestigious Hatton Garden district, we sat down with artisan jeweller Brent Sutcliffe and asked him to share some of his insights and experiences in the world of bespoke jewellery making.
What is the most outlandish thing you have been asked to make? Probably a ruby sapphire and diamond American flag lapel pin when I was working in the Hatton Garden jewellery district in London. That was pretty outlandish. Although, we once made £300,000.00 worth of jewellery for an 11-year-old girl from Saudi Arabia. Her mother got a £1 million necklace.
Is there any etiquette around working with an artisan jeweller? I wouldn’t say there was a specific etiquette, but there are a few things we aren’t so keen on doing. One is when people want us to make an exact copy of someone else’s design, we think this is unethical so we won’t do it. We are happy to do something similar which means we take the idea and personalise it for our customer. Otherwise, we see it as our job to educate our customers about why what we do is so special. For example, almost 90-95 percent of jewellery today is made on CAD and or cast, whereas almost everything we do is handmade. When a ring is handmade, it really is bespoke, unique and one-off. The ring itself can also be finished to a higher standard and will last longer as the metal is work-hardened.
Do the skills used in making jewellery translate to any other pastimes? Yes, definitely. I think if you have a natural inclination to work with your hands or as a craftsperson you will always find that what you have trained in will translate to other fields. For example, I also made furniture for a while, but family and business has meant that’s not possible at the moment.
What is the most expensive piece of jewellery you’ve created locally? We have done a few pieces around the $600,000 mark.
Who or what inspires you? Anything beautifully designed and made inspires me. It could be architecture, furniture, jewellery, clothing… seeing something else that has had blood sweat and tears poured into it, and where the execution is outstanding inspires me to continue to do the same. So much of what I see today is all about being disposable and doing the job cheaper and cutting corners and compromising quality… Of course keeping costs realistic is necessary, but when the integrity of the piece goes out the window, that’s just sad.
203 Parnell Road
(09) 309 0127