Simon Wright – The enterprise of design

"It wasn’t much fun, lots of late nights and working all weekend but it paid off." - Simon Wright, Master artisan and personal jeweller. 
 
Interview conducted by Maximilian Höck for FirstStep.me
 
The pulse of any enterprise is always critical to its growth. Turning an idea, into a business and then into a brand will always combine hard work with dynamic thinking. In the world of custom jewellery design this business flow is actually what the business is. Taking an idea and creating it into a product of individual beauty. A challenge of balancing creativity and commerce – a challenge that Simon Wright has successfully undertaken as the pulse of his business.

You are an Australian living in London, tell us more and how did you go about becoming a Jeweller? I was born and grew up in Melbourne, Australia - a great place to live and work. Whilst at university studying an Arts/Business degree, I realised it wasn’t for me. My dad had always worked at museums and art galleries in Melbourne, so I grew up in an art rich environment. With this familiarity in place I transferred to study a course in jewellery and metalsmithing. The course as it turned out was not what I thought it would be, so I dropped out and found an apprenticeship which lasted 4 years. I was taught by a strict Turkish jeweller, with whom I did what is called a traditional apprenticeship education. I also learnt how to swear really well in Turkish.
 
What were the challenges that you came across in starting your own business? It was a lot of hard work. I worked for a jewellery retail company here in London and developed a network of contacts before I started out. I setup the business in 2007 and worked full time as well as running the business. It wasn’t much fun, lots of late nights and working all weekend but it paid off. In 2009 I became a limited company and quit my old job to concentrate on my own business. Since then it has grown, including employing a full time assistant – Jenny Basset - whom I couldn’t do without!
 
What is your formula or method of design and creation? I start by developing an idea with the customer of what they want. I’ll be working out what they need, whether it is feasible and if the piece is wearable. I also factor in the time frame and budget which are really important.
 
Next I produce design work on the computer using CAD software. I currently use Rhino to do all of my designs.
 
Once the design is signed off, I print a wax model on one of my 3D printers. The wax model then goes to a precious metal casting company.
 
In the example of a ring, after it has been cast, I then work on the rough ring. Sometimes it is in several pieces and needs careful assembling. The diamonds are set into the ring, and then it’s given a final polish.

Simon Wright – The enterprise of design
 
Have you ever faced difficulties whilst crafting a piece of jewellery? All the time. Usually it’s my 3D printers not doing what they are supposed to. It involves a fair bit of swearing. Not in Turkish though.
 
What are the advantages of 3D- high-tech developments in terms of the design industry? Customers can see for instance on their email pretty much exactly how a ring will look - rather than relying on a rough sketch. It also helps affirm a trusting relationship between the designer and the customer.
 
They can also see a 3D model before making the ring in precious metal.
 
Cash flow is helped too. I used to make everything by hand, which meant that I would have to buy extra gold and platinum to make the rings. There is always a little bit of waste, and you need extra metal to bash, file and bend. Now there is very little extra expense because the casting comes back with very little extra metal I have to cut off.
 
How would you describe your Style as a Master Artisan in three words? No bull shit.
 
If you can choose any material to work with, which would it be? Platinum. It’s great to solder. You can pump loads of heat into it and it won’t melt when you are soldering.
 
How do you make sure you meet the high aspirations of your clients for their special piece of jewellery? Patience when I am working. My mates reckon I am impatient, so they think I must use up all my patience at work.
 
It is also ensuring that the materials you work with are of the highest quality.
 
About: You can find out more about Simon Wright on sw-jewellery.com and Tweets here @SW_Jewellery or connect on Google+.
 
Image source: Simon Wright