Long road to learn precious art

Last updated 05:00 06/03/2014
Gold handler

DELICATE PROCESS: Mark Sokolich hand-makes jewellery to order.

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Mark Sokolich lives in Laingholm with his wife Sue and three children, Nicole, 13, Leanne, 11, and Michele, 7. He talks to reporter Shelley Greco about his work as a designer goldsmith.

How did you become a goldsmith?

I had a teacher when I was younger whose husband was a jeweller and it was something that rung in my ear.

I thought it was maybe an interesting thing to do so I went on and did my apprenticeship and now still deal with my teacher and her husband.

How does your job differ from a jeweller?

A retailer is basically a shop and most of the staff are not skilled in jewellery.

I was trained as a manufacturing jeweller, which is one aspect of what I do, but it's a classic training job.

It's an apprenticeship skill and a six-year apprenticeship if you're going to do it.

It's very hard to tell a young person it's going to take five or six years to plan.

What does your job involve?

Working one-on-one with the client.

You have to have a verbal discussion with them to see what their needs and wants are.

Then you need to work on a basis that they have an idea of what they like.

I source material and gem stones, design, costing, manufacturing and delivering.

The satisfaction is seeing the joy it brings to the client at the end.

It's not really about the cost of the item, it's more about the end product.

What kind of pieces have you been asked to create?

Anything from mild to wild.

It's the whole spectrum of jewellery, the requirement of the customer really.

I have created diamond snap bracelets, long drop earrings, elaborate engagement rings, diamond ring sets and hand-made chains and bracelets.

When you get to a point when you have made a lot of jewellery, you find the more artistic items and sculptured items more of a challenge.

How long does it take to create a piece of jewellery?

From maybe a couple of hours to a couple of weeks.

A small wedding band set might take two to four hours and an elaborate diamond bracelet may take upward of 60 hours to manufacture.

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- Western Leader

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