September 10th 1984
My first day, am I actually going to be any good at this ?
Will I like it ?
Will it like me ?
How long will I do it before deciding I'd rather do something else ?
All legitimate questions and thoughts for a young man committing to a 4 year apprenticeship in an industry he really knew very little about...
I won't lie, I've certainly had times when I'd have happily walked away, times when I've doubted myself, times when the pressure felt unbearable...but I'm still here.
On that one day in September, no not that one, my one, I started this career with no clue what was to come, what was before me, how long it would last. I joined a fledgling business in St. Albans, it was only 12 months old, it belonged to my brother-in-law, in partnership with his sister...He was the Jeweller, a damn fine one I'll say, I learned from one of the best, she was front of shop, and admin, and customer liaison, and organiser, oh and best of all lunch getter, those bacon and egg rolls, just to die for.
John and Aggie took me under their collective wing and together we worked at establishing a new business, it certainly wasn't all plain sailing. It actually nearly ended very early for me, one disagreement too many with the boss had me on my way, from memory it took three days before we both saw sense and I returned to work. For 8 years we worked together, eating bacon and egg rolls, listening to music, experiencing some great times. My questions were answered, I liked it, it seemed to like me, I worked hard at it, learned from a gun and won myself the Jewellery Apprentice of the Year in 1987, I can't thank them enough for the opportunity they gave me.
As with all good things, it came to an end, business circumstances forced me to move on, things got a little quiet, I put my hand up and had to find somewhere new. Luck would have it I was only 'unemployed' for 2 x weeks before the opportunity arose to establish a brand new Jewellery workshop in a local Melton Jewellery store looking to get a Jeweller onsite, right place, high time or what. It was there I met some of the clients I still see to this day, and had the opportunity to fully develop my confidence and ability to go it alone.
Roll into 1995, the desire to work for myself was getting very strong and I left my comfortable job where I was running my own race so to speak, to actually run my own race. With 2 x very young kids to support I stepped into the unknown and left my job to work for myself. My beautiful wife Carolyn became admin, customer liaison, organiser and lunch getter...seeing a pattern there ?? I built a little workshop in my backyard and saw clients at my home, and quite often drove all over the suburbs to see them in their homes if need be.. Things worked out great and business grew and grew allowing us to make a more professional move with confidence. We sold our house and moved, building a new home with a custom workshop which allowed people to visit me and have it not impact on my family quite so much.
Fast forward to today and I've got so many wonderful and funny stories I could share of clients over the years, places we've met, times we've met, things we've done to keep a birthday present or an Engagement Ring secret, at times I could have won an Oscar for my acting ability I tell ya...However, by far the biggest joy of my career has been the relationships I've developed with so many families over the journey, making Wedding Rings for couples and then making them for their children years later, that is never lost on me, so many of you I now call friends. The trust that has been put in me and what I do from countless people is the biggest reward I could ever ask for and the biggest affirmation that I might actually have got ok at this Jewellery making lark.
So what happened in the middle years you ask, well we expanded and moved into a shop, I made the Masterchef Immunity Pins for the hit TV show, I trained my very own apprentice and had my own sidekick for 6 years. I learned from my brother-in-law and I trained my son-in-law, both very enjoyable and often eye opening times, there was no bacon and egg rolls in my workshop but still plenty of questionable music.
As I've already alluded to, over the years I've often laughed with people, I've certainly cried with people, I've shared in some of the most important times in peoples lives, and unfortunately some of the saddest, I've shared many of my own joys and sadness with you all and I feel there has always been a connection and I've loved that. One thing I never saw happening all those years ago was those very human relationships I have got from my career, a very unexpected bonus.
So what's next from here ?
I'm now based on the wonderful Bellarine Peninsula, old clients are travelling hours to meet up with me and get something made, and new clients are now discovering me. Hopefully with that I can gain the trust of the people in this new era as I did previously. I am certainly aiming to slow down a little, work a bit less, but I'm still loving what I do, still motivated to go on a little longer, still taking immense pride in my job, still marvelling at my longevity in this business, hell I'm even starting to run Jewellery making Workshops.
Sooo, to sum it up it's 37 years later and I'm thinking I'm might be getting the hang of it, this little career I kinda fell into, this career I wouldn't change for anything, oh except maybe Landscape Photography, yes definitely Landscape Photography..😉
With that I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the trust and support you have given me from day 1 to day 13,505. To all those that have been a part of my career, whether it's only been once or been often, I sincerely hope I have created pieces over the journey that will give you countless joy and pride for years to come...
Some careers define the people undertaking it, the Jewellery industry is one such industry I believe, you somehow can never not be a part of it..
To so many people I'm simply John the Jeweller, and I'm fine with that.
Next stop 40 years ??