The beauty of bespoke at Gems and Jewels
Sparkling, shining, twinkling in the light. You’ve happened upon the most amazing jewellery box.
The kind of jewellery box that is kept up high, in the top of the cupboard, away from the sticky fingers of little girls who love to play dress-ups. The kind that holds the most special and unique pieces.
It’s beautiful and calm; something magic happens here, you can feel it.
Located on Sturt Street for just over 10 years now, Gems and Jewels was originally founded in Central Square Ballarat, 30 years ago. The move to Sturt Street was intentional and part of a bigger vision Suzy Allan, owner and creative director, had for her business.
Stepping off the street into what can only be described as a ‘hidden gem’ (pun absolutely intended!), this new location encompasses exactly what Suzy had envisaged for her future clients.
A special relationship is formed upon walking through those doors, one that matters and one that will be remembered. Although Gems and Jewels do sell “off-the-rack”, straight from the shop floor, their bespoke experience is what they are most passionate about and proud of.
A flurry of people work intently behind a partly obscured wall, as Suzy speaks of her creative process and her love for what she does. Suzy’s passion is palpable and contagious. It’s obvious this place of celebration, a place that captures some of the most significant times in people’s lives, has much more to offer than initially meets the eye.
A lot of what happens at Gems and Jewels happens behinds the scenes.
The bespoke experience involves many private consultations to carefully meet each client’s needs and wants. “Every client is different,” explains Suzy. “It’s a process, one that can be exciting and emotional, but ultimately filled with joy.”
Allen, jeweller and gemologist at Gems and Jewels, shares a moment he will never forget. One of the first rings he ever re-made was for a lady who was confined to a wheelchair and had some trouble communicating. After many years of marriage, her wedding ring had worn and needed some repair. When presented with the new ring, and not able to communicate like she once could, Allen watched as a single tear ran down her face. It was at that moment that Allen knew he was part of something really special.
“Jewellery’s not just about monetary value, there is so much emotion behind it,” says Allen.
The bespoke experience can mean designing a ring from start to finish, including sourcing the right stones, a repair or re-make, or a full re-design.
“People come to us with heirlooms or wedding rings after relationships break down and we are here for them, for whatever they need,” explains Suzy.
The re-using of precious stones and gold is encouraged by Suzy. “Re-design is probably one of the main things we do, being able to re-purpose gold is wonderful,” she says.
Once a year, Suzy and Allen take a trip to Hong Kong to source the very best stones for their own range, as well as sourcing on behalf of their clients. “I take them on the journey with me, sending them photos and talking to them throughout the process,” says Allen.
Suzy’s own collections are not only beautiful but limited edition. Releasing only two collections a year, her passion aligns with a ‘slow’ consumerism – pieces that are cherished, passed down and enjoyed forever.
Jewellery is emotional; we connect with it in a way many of us don’t even realise. It carries an energy, one that connects us to the person who gave it to us and any of the hands it has passed through along the way.
Jacinta, another member of the design team at Gems and Jewels, takes the role of cleansing the jewellery, a process that strips away past energy and welcomes the new. Once cleansed, no one touches the piece with their bare hands. It is placed carefully into a box so that when presented to the client, they are the first to touch it.
"This is really important,” explains Jacinta. “Jewellery holds energy and it’s not always good. It’s not something we talk a lot about, it’s just something we do, it’s part of our process.”
It’s abundantly clear that it’s not about ‘selling to people’ for Suzy but more about connection and community, and sharing her own love for jewellery to the world around her.
The respect and love that the Gems and Jewels team have for each other, as well as for their clients, is obvious. You may find yourself unwilling to leave, as you sit sipping warm lemon tea, soaking in the harmonious sanctum that is Gems and Jewels.
But alas you must and inevitably comes the time when you have to close the lid on this extraordinary jewellery box and walk out the door.
Stepping back onto the footpath of Sturt Street, you might have to resist the urge to stop someone and ask them, “How long I have been gone for?”, as though you’ve had just returned from a land far, far away.
Gems and Jewels have achieved the impossible, creating a space so special, so unique that while inside, you forget everything that is happening on the outside.
Words by Bianca Flint, pictures by Her Golden Point
As printed in Uncover Summer 2019
Gems and Jewels is located at 424 Sturt Street, Ballarat