If you don’t have any problems, you don’t have any business!


This was a favourite saying of a dear departed friend who was the CEO of a very old established musical instrument company in England called John E Dallas & Son Ltd.

His name was Les Miller and he was a good friend to me even when he had personally fell on hard times. But the above was a favourite saying whenever anyone was stressed out with business problems.  And how right he has proved to be. If you are running a successful business you are bound to come across problems both minor and major. But as Les used to say, you can’t walk away from them, you need to stay calm, sit down quietly on your own (at first) and carefully identify the specifics of the problem. Once you have all the relevant information to hand it’s then that you can consider what action to take.

Some favourite business problems are:

  • Cash Flow
  • Obtaining goods from suppliers
  • Customer service
  • Staffing
  • Finding more business
  • Having too much business and not enough capacity
  • etc. etc.

I know that we will all come face to face with a number of these problems at some time in our careers, and even now at my ‘Third Age’ with all the experience I have, I am still making silly mistakes which are causing me problems. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as far as I am concerned, plus in the past year I have made some very nice, experienced, concerned and intelligent friends via Social Media, who have flocked to my rescue with advice and guidance. They all know who they are and I hope they know that in return I am here for them. Good friends both physical and Virtual are hard to find. When you find them cherish them, we only come this way once!

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Les Miller at the American Trade Centre in London c1976

Where Can I get it Fixed – 2


Continuing with my post about taking repairs in from the local Jeweller/Fancy goods shop, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, but we would be fools if we thought it would be! Having said that it wasn’t a catastrophe. I was asked to quote for replacing the brooch pin on the back of a Nurses Fob watch. I made up the Repairs Envelope with all the details required on and put it ready to start work on. Later on that week I started to go through the repairs and I saw the watch, I checked it out under the glass and before I knew where I was I had removed the old Brooch Pin and replaced it with a new one I had in stock. Priced it and wrote it up.

On returning to the shop the next day with the watch I was met by a somewhat confused shop owner who said  that she was supposed to get back to the customer with a price before the go-ahead! To cut a long story short, the shop owner tried to contact the customer for over two weeks, when she finally did and told her the price, the customer said not to go ahead! The shop owner called me in a panic and told me what the customer had said. I told her not worry and for her, to tell the customer I had misunderstood and the job was done, and that I would ‘take it on the chin’! When the customer eventually came to the shop to collect the watch the shop owner explained what had happened and showed her the repaired watch. I’m very please not to say relieved that the customer was over- joyed with the job of replacing the pin and giving the bracelet strap a special clean (Nurses Fob Watches are notorious for carrying and transferring germs and bacteria from patient to patient and hence should be cleaned regularly) I used a special gel made for the job.

So all in all everyone was happy and the Nurse paid up and said she would return.

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FOB WATCH
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REVERSE SHOWING BROOCH PIN

Where Can I get it Fixed?


I live in S E Wales in the UK in what used to be called a village, but as with all things it has changed over the years.  Two very large supermarkets have opened which in turn meant that we had a number of the older small shops had to close.  Which was a shame.

One of the shops that closed was a Jewellery store  but it did leave a fancy goods/touristy gift type store which was also the local Photographic studio. When the jewellery store closed this store started to expand and to sell more and more bits of jewellery. And the do very nicely, they are nice people with the old world small shop customer service.  On the off chance I popped in there recently and told them that I was into Jewellery Making and they immediately asked me if I could do repairs. Of course I said yes. We came to an arrangement to try and see how things worked out and, so far I’m pleased to say that they have sent me a few pieces to be repaired and they have been happy with the work and I have been happy with the prices.

So I thought I would list  some photos of the repairs done to date.

This was a white gold diamond solitaire engagement ring. Apparently the couple broke up, the man asked for the ring back, the girl took off the ring and bit down on it and offered it to the guy. He took one look and left. So now a year later she asked if could be repaired.

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Ring on the left a UK 20 pence piece on the right.

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The reshaped and cleaned and polished ring, as good as new.

Slaving At My Bench


I have been working hard recently to build up my collection of hand made jewellery pieces. At the moment I seem to spend about 60% of my time at the design stage and only 40% at the bench. I am trying to improve this but likewise I do not wish to dilute the originality content of the design process. Thus far -to the best of my knowledge – I have not copied anyone, and that is how I intend to carry on. The feed back that I am getting from my customers is that they are happy with my work and it gives them added pleasure knowing that what they are wearing is either a ‘one of a kind’ item exclusive or, one of a Limited Edition number of pieces.

If anyone would like me quote them for some special individual and personal pieces for themselves or as a special gift to a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can email me at Info@markantonyjewellery.com and I will contact you by return. You can come up with your own specific design or, if you wish, I will be happy to design something especially for you, and this means of course, that there will be no other like it available anywhere, it will be totally bespoke just for you.  Moreover, we can use all original precious metals supplied by ourselves or alternatively, if you currently own pieces that you no longer wear we would be pleased to look at them and see if it is possible to re-work the piece into a completely new design.

We have a shop on Etsy where a number of our pieces may be purchased or alternative contact us at the above email address for alternative methods of purchase.

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This is a solid silver ring, made from a 1905 silver spoon. It features a Harp and has all the original Hallmarks
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This is a similar solid silver ring to the one mentioned above and made at the same time from a silver spoon over 100 years ago in Birmingham England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE_Pendant
This is a solid silver handmade pendant, called a Love Key.

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Change?


Hi all once again I find myself apologising for late blogging. However, I’m actually here now and for the first time I’m writing it on my iPhone, never done this before do we will see where it takes us.

As far as Change goes, I was thinking of changing my blog into a website, and I was wondering what your views on that would be? Do you have one ‘outlet’ or do you have both? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments, the reason I was considering it, is because I do not have a Sales site for my jewellery other than  Etsy.

I suppose there is a possibility of selling my goods from the Blog, but I’m not sufficiently converse with WP to be able to do that, but probably worth investigating.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

 

A Touch of the Black Dog


Many of my readers will recall that I have used this phrase before on a number of occasions. It comes from another fellow Sagittarius  Sir Winston Churchill and, it was his term that he used when he was having a particularly bad day with depression.  Now I have always tried to be an open book, what you see is what you get, which on a number of occasions in the past haven’t been too helpful. Especially when I was working in a highly political corporation like CBS. I learnt a lot from my American colleagues, not least how to get ahead while others lost theirs!  And that can be quite stressful when one has always led their life like an open book. I just found it a nicer way to live, you didn’t have to tell lies, and then remember the lies that you had told and who you told them to, I just wasn’t that clever. I would always take the easy way out and call a spade a spade, those who understood the way I was, accepted that and we got on fine. (That didn’t mean that I was cruel in any way, if I thought a particular  instance of honesty would hurt the person, then obviously I would leave it). Those who didn’t like it could go and please themselves, an open-book I was, but never afraid of confrontation!  It certainly didn’t hinder my career and I was promoted to all the positions that I aimed for and always gave the best I could. If I liked what someone was doing I told them so, likewise if I didn’t like what they were doing I also told them. That usually didn’t go down that well with my fellow managers, but what the heck….if it was the truth what were they gonna do about it?

However, there were and still are days when The old Black Dog comes by. Usually for no apparent reason. One just finds one’s self much quieter and not so ready with the witticism. Thinking negative thoughts instead of being the positive person one has always tried to be. Having said that, I’m old enough now to know how to get out of that state of mind (most of there time that is!)  Subsequently by the end of my day I have managed to turn myself around and anyway, yesterday was a great day, a productive day.

My Day at The Bench

I had to take my wife for an appointment with her Consultant yesterday at a Hospital 30 miles away. I was all ready and had made all the necessary arrangements, but as it happened she was too ill to travel and at 8.30am she asked me to phone and rearrange the appointment, which I duly did.  She then went to sleep for the rest of the day, but considering she was trying to cope with chronic pain still at 5.30am I wasn’t surprised. This meant that I now had a free day and as long as I didn’t leave the house (why would I want to?) I could do whatever I wanted to do. Hence, my day at the bench.  And boy did I know it by the time I clocked off.

Hands

My day consisted of trying out the old ‘Wet Tissue Paper in the ingot mould’ trick, suggested by Jewellery Maker Teacher supreme Andrew Berry . I particularly wanted try this because I had ready only a small amount of Silver scrap to melt down, plus I had the idea that I wanted to make a piece of square wire no more than 100mm long x 1.5mm square.  To cut a long story short, it worked to perfection and after a slow natural cooling of period I proceeded to produce the wire in my Durston rolling mill.  I say slow natural cooling opposed to quenching because in the past I have had some problems with the wire/ingot cracking, and I have found that if I let the metal molecules reassemble themselves naturally, I don’t see so many cracks and fissures.

However, the reason I wanted the wire was because I wanted to make a square-wire heart. I didn’t find it particularly easy but it was very rewarding even though the ‘semi’ finished product wasn’t perfect.Silver_Heart03

But I was relatively happy with the outcome. My next task is to affix a small tube-setting with a stone/gem yet to be chosen and if I can get it up to standard, put it on my Etsy account for sale!

Another area of jewellery making that I have come to find  both challenging and rewarding is Spoon Rings. Very popular in America but I don’t think the interest is as popular in the UK. At least, I haven’t seen as many Silversmiths selling them as I have in the States. One of the problems I find is that it is difficult to find good quality sterling silver flatware in Wales, and I think that a number of my friends in the trade have confirmed this.  One Jeweller who I have mentioned before here, and who is quite the expert at making quality Jewellery from silver spoons is Ginger Meek-Allen  however, Ginger produces more lockets than rings, and you should visit her site for an example of some of the beauties she has produced. Moreover, because of Ginger’s influence I spotted this book on Amazon just this week and it is a little treasure trove of information on Spoons!

Ok chaps and chappesses, that’s me for another day. Please be kind enough to like (that’s if you did like of course) and click on the follow button at the top which will activate an email to your inbox on the publication of every new  blog post (that’s if you would like to read more ramblings of course) 🙂

Love & Peace x

Slow to get back to work!


Not really wasting time

I did read somewhere where it said that getting old is not all bad. For one thing, no one can tell you what time to get or go to bed anymore. Secondly, if you wanna stay up and work at your bench until the sun comes up you can. No more customers to stress about, no more bank managers to worry about, no more meetings……you know I am starting to cheer me self up!

You are not wasting time if you are doing something that will improve yourself or improve the lives of others. I have been improving myself by reading which I love. Not all in paper form, there is some good stuff to find to read on the net, hence this article below.

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Alice Keppel’s necklace The garnet and seed pearl demi-parure features as lot 496. The necklace is designed as an oval and pear-shape garnet cluster with seed pearl accents, suspended from a snake-link chain. The set is complete with matching ear pendants in a fitted case; this lot is offered with an estimate of £2,500-3,000.

Alice Frederica Edmonstone was born on 29th April 1868, the daughter of Sir William, 4th Baronet Edmonstone and incidentally is Camilla Parker Bowles’ great grandmother. She married her high society husband George Keppel in June 1891 before meeting the Prince of Alice Keppel’s necklaceWales, “Bertie”, seven years later. According to the social mores of the day, it was acceptable for spouses in the upper echelons of society to have affairs; however modern historians such as Victoria Glendinning have slated her as having the “sexual morals of an alley cat”. Nevertheless, Alice and George Keppel remained in a happy marriage and both died within months of one another after 56 years together.

Twenty six years his junior, Alice came to be “a fantastic help to Edward VII, more help than his wife [Queen Alexandra] could have ever have been,” according to biographer Christopher Wilson. She became his close confidante, and one of the few people who could calm the King’s often frightening mood swings until his death in 1901.

The garnet and seed pearl demi-parure was almost certainly worn by the fascinating woman around the late 19th century London social scene, and possibly in the presence of King Edward VII.

This article is from the Antique and Collectors Magazine  and is copyrighted to them.

Thinking Back.

I well remember at the regular weekly Management meetings one of the subjects that came up was to discuss HRM issues. And we would go through the different area managers roles and the staff that reported to them, and one of the questions that someone would nearly always bring up, especially – but not necessarily – for a new appointment was, “Is he/she the right man for the job?”  This got me thinking about all the Psychometric  Tests, and the group activities in the classroom to find out who would be best at what within a specific team. These activities were more often than not ran by myself as Head of The Training Division.  One of the Training Analysis activities we ran, was to identify where you would fit into a particular group. Because we are not all the same doesn’t mean that we don’t have our place in a group. We don’t all have to be great achievers. There is a place for most people within the group. We need Ideas people, we need Doers, Finishers, Closers, Activists, Completer’s etc. I was always an ideas and ‘shoot from the hip’ person – not always a great leader but still an essential part of a team – I could always be relied upon to come up with an idea, but don’t ask me to implement it! Which (finally  😦 sorry) brings me to the point I wanted to make about a forthcoming Training course I will be embarking upon where one is tested on the quality of one’s work. And not just any work but specific ‘fine and intricate’ work. This requires the mind of an Engineer who is ambitious  to Design and with the creative heart of an Artiste, and not a shoot-from-the-hipster like me!

However, one thing I have learned since commencing my Jeweller Making & Silversmith learning is that you have to be a ‘Dot-the-I -and-cross-the-T’ type of person, and NOT a shoot-from-the-hip chappie! This is the one thing that I have realised that I need to change in ‘My Type’. I need to NOT be impatient but still be hungry. I’m pleased to say that with the help of some of the many new friends I have made recently they are making my learning experience very pleasant, and I can clearly see a path to follow, for my part let’s pray that it continues.

So a big thank you to Andrew Berry and a very clever American Jeweller Ginger Meek-Allen.

Peace & Love Guys x

 

 

Happy New Year


Hello to all my friends out there and a Happy New Year to you all.

After about 5 years I am still trying to learn how to effectively use WordPress, but I soldier on with the hope that maybe this year I’ll get a little better at blogging, goodness know I have made enough promised false starts in the past!

As some will know I kinda….lost my photography Mojo, something I have loved for over 40 years however, all is not lost I still intend to vista my wildlife patches, but maybe not as often as I used to.

Having said that I am enjoying my new ‘Apprenticeship’, that of Jewellery maker/Silversmith/Goldsmith. It all started when my wife asked me to help with a beading project she was doing and needed something soldering, before I could turn around I had a Jewellery workshop! 🙂  I think one of the catalysts to my new passion was finding the Jewellery learning site called At The Bench.  At the Bench is an online learning site where members have access to hundreds of films expertly presented by a professional working jeweller Andrew Berry. If you want to learn more about making and repairing and designing jewellery I can highly recommend him. There is a link at the bottom of the page.

I think it is safe to say that it is a steep learning curve, that is if you want to design and manufacture pieces that are worthy to be advertised and sold as pieces of jewellery, and not scraps of stuff stuck together, which all your family say “Oh!…you are so clever…that is a beautiful…what?…a Pendant?…Brooch?” 🙂 Which is just one of the reasons I have made a number of very nice and talented friends, most of which have been making jewellery for a number of years from 3 to 30. By showing them what I have made and then listening to their comments and inspecting and watching how they do the same thing, it has made my learning a lot easier than it would have been.  Please forgive me if I am repeating myself here and there, but as I said earlier I am trying to become a better blogger!

My latest attempt was to make a ring from sterling silver with a silver Gallery Basket setting (I hope I got that right). It took me for what seemed a long time, but in my defence  I did keep swapping over to other little projects, which I like to do. I have noticed that if I stay with the same piece I’m making for too long, I have a tendency to become impatient and want to hurry to finish the piece. This is where I start to make mistakes and get sloppy. If I have learnt one thing from Andrew Berry it’s to start as you mean to finish, thats with accuracy and diligence, if you cut corners at the beginning of the project there is no correcting it at the end. Well not when you are a learner anyway, thats for sure.

So this is the piece. I should say that there is no way this ring would be for sale because it is not good enough, but at least it will be a record (hopefully) to show how my pieces are improving over time.

 

If it ain’t Broke?


Firstly an apology to all my faithful blogging friends, an apology for being so delinquent is blogging! I promise I will do better in the coming year (please God)!

Some of you may remember that when I was working as a Management & Training Consultant I was always preaching about how change for the better is always good for business. And one of the books I remember reading was entitled ‘If it ain’t broke, break it’. Which basically meant that one shouldn’t take for granted that because things are going swimmingly at the moment, it doesn’t mean they will be the same this time (say) next year.  And, that we should always be prepared to re-visit our business plan and our marketing plan, and review all the major areas of the business such as:

  • Financial control
  • Overheads
  • Suppliers
  • Sales targets (must be S.M.A.R.T)
  • Customer service & management

So, being one who does practice what he preaches I looked inward and wasn’t very happy with what I saw. The competition in my chosen field of Wildlife Photography was such – due to the technological advancement of digital cameras – that every body and his dog was becoming a wildlife and nature photographer. All this was doing to me was creating stress which I did not want, and I had stopped enjoying going out with may camera and seeking special shots.  So I took the big step and decided to CHANGE.

The change I made was to do something I had thought about for about 12 months. And that was to learn to become a working metalsmith, a Jeweller, someone who can design pieces and the make them at a standard that would be acceptable within the industry. There is of course a Bona Fide entrance to the craft which requires something like a 5 year apprenticeship, but obviously being too old for this I started to investigate other ways of learning.

I was very lucky because I actually found a working Jeweller who actually taught the craft and was living and working in Wales, not more than 20 miles from where I live. His name is Andrew Berry and his boutique working jewellery store is in the beautiful Welsh valley town of Ystrad Mynach. Check out Andrew Berry.  If any of you are interested in learning a little more about the learning process, let me know and I will give the link to Andrew’s teaching site.

So, there we are a major change and I have found a new passion. I have partially converted my old photographic studio into a proper workshop/studio. There is a lot more to do to get it right, but it’s working and, I have actually started making sales! Only small ones, but enough to give me confidence in my work and confirmation that I must be doing something right!

Solid silver snake ring.
Solid silver snake ring.
Brass teardrop pendant
Brass teardrop pendant
Sterling silver ring with 9ct gold band.
Sterling silver ring with 9ct gold band.
Silver Plate Spoon Ring

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Silver Pendant
A Solid silver witches heart pendant

HANDMADE JEWELLERY

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