Marion Kane creates silver and gold jewellery and tableware. Her work is in museums and private hands, including celebrity customers.
“Most days I’ll be sitting at the bench getting on with the orders. The jeweller’s bench has a recess cut out to sit in. You have a bench peg, which is like a big prong, and that’s the main tool you work on, whether you’re cutting out the metal or filing. The seat is adjustable, so if you’re doing jewellery, your bench peg is at eye level. If I’m doing silversmithing and larger pieces, I need to sit higher to get purchase to file the metal.”
“You have to have your wits about you, because you’re working with fast-moving machinery, like a power drill or polishing motor. So you have to very careful not to be distracted. You’ve also got hand tools, so you can cut yourself. Part of the training is learning how to use the tools. You could also be sitting hunched over for hours, so you have to get up and stretch.”
“The material comes from various bullion companies in the jewellery quarter in Birmingham or London. I can get it in basically any form, like sheets or wire. I can order whatever thickness I want. I can also roll it down myself.”
“You hold onto absolutely everything, like floor sweepings. We even keep all the emery paper and the polishing mop and baby wipes from cleaning your hands. (People think silversmithing is a clean job, but it’s filthy.) You put all that in a bag and send it back to the bullion company. They burn it off and melt it down and analyse what’s in it, whether gold, silver or platinum. Then they will either reimburse you or credit your account. Metal prices change every day, so it may be high when you send it off, but lower the day they receive it. Or you may be lucky and the price has gone up.”
“Things have changed over the last couple of years. People still come in and buy off the shelf, but I’m finding a definite shift and people want to use their own metal. They’ve maybe inherited a ring and want to bring it up to date a little. They want to continue the legacy of a family heirloom and pass the story on.”
“You never know what’s going to come through the door. Some customers let you do what you want, others have a definite idea of what they want. I want them to enjoy a piece and not have it sit in a drawer, so I’m not going to impose my style on them.” www.marionsilversmith.com