A Real Gem – Inside Dominic Walmsley Jewellery
We asked local jeweller Dominic Walmsley to give us a little insight into his background and Riverhead jewellery shop.
How did you come to work in jewellery design?
I began my career as an apprentice silversmith at the London Assay office, learning the 700-year-old traditions and techniques of the Goldsmiths Company. I furthered my training with a gold and silversmith in Putney where I honed my skills, specialising in large models and objets for Asprey in Bond St.
Having completed my apprenticeship, I travelled the world for a year, taking inspiration from the amazing gemstones and jewellery designs I discovered in the different countries visited and cultures experienced. On my return to the UK in 1991 I set up my own jewellery business in London’s Clerkenwell and opened a second shop in Riverhead in 2001.
It was through the support of an apprenticeship scheme that I was able to create and develop a successful career and business based on my passions and skill set. It is because of this method that I am keen to offer the same experiences to apprentices within my business. I successfully trained one apprentice who has gone on to be an established jeweller and have another apprentice currently in training.
How would you describe your business?
When I started my own business, I focused on creating collections that I could sell both to my own clients and to established retail outlets such as Harrods and Liberty of London. As the business grew, I became well known for my bespoke designs and particularly my very individual wedding and engagement rings.
My practice has evolved and now I spend most of my time designing and creating one-off pieces, celebrating life’s milestone occasions.
What do you love most about being a jeweller?
I’ve always been a bit of a magpie when it comes to collecting gemstones and I am passionate about the stones that I use in my designs. The joy and pleasure that comes with unwrapping a diamond from its packet never fails to excite me as much today as it did over thirty years ago.
How do you advise your clients when selecting a diamond?
Choosing the perfect stone can be a minefield as one has to balance size with clarity, colour and budget. With over thirty years of experience I know that I can interpret and guide my clients to the perfect stone by explaining the differences and attributes, allowing them to make their choice and avoiding the pitfalls of buying online.
When a client starts the design process, I will gather together a variety of stones for them to look at which they find hugely beneficial and reassuring and if the right one isn’t there I will continue the search until I find it.
Why do your clients choose to have a piece made by you?
This is incredibly important to me. In an age where most jewellery is mass produced abroad our clients are looking for a more personal experience reflecting the occasion being celebrated or commemorated. I take this responsibility very seriously as this process can be as a result of an emotional time in their lives and investing in and committing to that is of utmost importance to me. Many of my clients bring jewellery that has been inherited and holds enormous sentimental value to them but which they never wear. I specialise in using the existing metal and stones and redesigning the piece, safeguarding the sentimental value whilst being worn and enjoyed too.