Happy Monday! Is there a better way to start the working week than by poring over incredibly beautiful engagement and wedding rings? Today we’re chatting to Paul Stewart, head designer and jeweller at APS Jewellery. We love that Paul’s passion for Art Deco design, scared geometric art and coloured gemstones shines so brightly through his work. APS Jewellery’s creations are one of kind, and the love and care that are put into each piece is incredible and has made for plenty of happy clients. Each piece is made to tell a story, designed and crafted using inspiration from the lives and love of their clients. Paul shares with us how his jewellery goes from the idea stage to reality, and what he loves about his job.
Where are you based?
We are in Auburn Village, Hawthorn, which is a beautiful, inner eastern suburb of Melbourne.
Tell us a bit about your showroom…
Our showroom was designed and built by me with the help of some great friends and family. It was built to inspire both us as creatives and also our clients. The showroom is spacious, atmospheric, and ambient. I never wanted a space that was full of lights and too much product. I always wanted to create an atmosphere where anybody who enters feels inspired and creative, and I believe we’ve achieved that.
Our jewellery is displayed in cabinets fixed to the walls beneath large, lit up archways. These archways reflect our inspirations, including geometric design.
The first thing our clients notice when they walk in however, is our beautiful dog Ruby who will greet them at the door.
Image: Kathleen Winder
Do you also have an online store?
Yes, we’ve launched this very recently!
How long has APS Jewellery been making engagement rings and wedding bands?
I have been in the jewellery trade for approximately 15 years. Eight of those years has been as APS Jewellery.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Our pieces are unique. We don’t mass produce any of our jewellery – most of our pieces are made once only. We are inspired by Art Deco design, sacred geometry and we love colour in our pieces. We also handmake many pieces – which most places don’t do anymore.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are technically confident – we often provide clients with intricate designs and pieces that other jewellers haven’t been able to make for them.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Drop my two boys off at school and child care, make my way to the studio. Greet our staff and make sure that the workshop is ready, priorities are in place for the day. I turn some music on, and start setting up the display cabinets, and unlock the front door.
My day consists of juggling many things – I work between customer service, manufacturing jewellery, and business management! I spend much of my time designing pieces for clients, consulting, sourcing the perfect gem from suppliers, and chatting with my staff and the local community in Auburn.
You specialise in designing and making bespoke and handmade fine jewellery. What do you love most about making unique pieces?
Building relationships with my clients has got to be one of the most rewarding parts of job but in terms of each piece, they all carry a little bit of my heart and soul out into the world.
You offer consultations with a jewellery designer. Can you tell us about this process?
First step can be via email or telephone or in person. We talk about what our clients needs are and their budget for the job. The next stage is usually best in person, where we talk about the client’s aesthetic and what the piece of jewellery means to them. From there, we talk about colour, inspiration, or other pieces they may like. I will usually do some concept sketches at this time and we will look at some gems and try on some pieces that might suit. Measure the clients finger size and establish the scale of the overall piece.
I’ll then spend some time refining the designs and sourcing the right gem options for the job before our next consultation. The design process is an opportunity for me to tie together what the client wants with what I can technically achieve and my vision for the overall piece. I put a lot of effort into these details.
The second consultation will usually be finalising any of the finer details, like colour of materials, surface finishes and choosing the right stones. After these things are resolved it’s into the workshop where we can start making.
What should bridal couples bring along to a consultation?
I find it very useful when a client brings a visual catalogue of designs such as Pinterest. I often explain to clients that even if the pictures don’t seem to relate to one and other, we can talk about them, what they like or dislike, and I can bring the relevant elements together into a new and exciting piece.
What have been some of your favourite bespoke designs over the past year?
Almost a year ago now, I had the pleasure of working with Dr Susan Carland for the Logies. It was a fun opportunity to play with design and be bit more grand than usual. I couldn’t help myself of course, and I had to add some personal touches to make them reflect the wearer in some way. I was very happy with the outcome!
More recently, I had the opportunity to remake a very special ring for a client. Twenty-five years ago, her partner had proposed with an engagement ring made in silver with semi-precious stones… in the shape of a ‘frog’. After 25 years of wear, the ring wasn’t doing so well and I was asked to remake it using precious materials. Made from platinum and having stones especially cut for the job, the client couldn’t be happier with the outcome. That’s what makes my work worthwhile. Jewellery is so rich with emotion and sentiment.
Have you noticed any trends? Are any bridal couples asking for similar styles at the moment?
I’m noticing that more and more couples are wanting to design the engagement ring together sometimes wanting the one ring to act as both the engagement ring and the wedding ring. I’m also noticing that people are becoming really concerned with ethical options when sourcing materials, for example, sourcing re-used diamonds or coloured stones from particular regions. This aligns strongly with our own values here at APS.
You also offer restoration and remodelling of older pieces. Are many brides and grooms opting for this service?
Remodels and restorations have been popular lately. Remodelling inherited pieces keeps the history of a piece alive while also creating something new and exciting. Also many people want to make use of those bits and pieces that have been sitting in a box, forgotten somewhere. Jewellery is made to be worn and loved.
Best testimonial you’ve ever received?
That was for a job where I used gold from my client’s deceased mother’s jewellery in the new wedding rings for her and her partner. They said that the work we did together had blown their minds and that their rings were now carrying so much more history with them than they could have ever expected. This was amazing feedback for me.
What are your personal favourite materials and gem stones?
My love for colour keeps me excited about all gemstones. I love playing with colours and tones and seeing what I can get from them. One of my favourite gems at the moment has to be Spinel. It is so underrated. It comes in a huge variety of colours and shades and it can be as lively as a diamond. When working with metal I’d have to say there’s something so beautiful about yellow gold. It truly is a noble metal. It moves and forms and bends in such a perfect way.
What are the three best things about your job?
I feel so privileged to be part of such an intimate and special time in a couples’ lives. It is so rewarding helping to express their story through the rings I create. I love playing with beautiful gifts from our earth and transform them into something that I hope will do them justice. And I feel so fortunate to be able to be creative every day.
What’s something that’s challenging about it or people would be surprised to know?
One of the challenges as a business owner is remaining flexible and seeing where opportunities lie. In recent years I’ve started a side project with an old friend. It’s still jewellery of sorts, for a completely different demographic. Something I’d never have expected to make but you’re welcome to check it out: The Cheshire’s Grin.
Three things you love doing on a day off?
My days off are best spent first and foremost with my family, my beautiful wife and two amazing boys. Next is at the Muay Thai gym. Or, when I have the time, being out in the wilderness rock climbing.
A huge thank you to Paul for sharing the story of APS Jewellery with us today. The intricacy and quality of your work is no doubt appreciated and loved by those lucky enough to have pieces made by you! Also, I absolutely love that a jeweller has dog named Ruby! To see more of Paul’s amazing work, head on over to the APS Jewellery website.
Images and headshot courtesy of APS Jewellery