Wellington-designed jewellery from The Village Goldsmith is about to be on women's ring fingers in China and diamond rings from the capital could soon be sold in Canada, Britain and the Philippines as well.
Award winning jeweller Ian Douglas, who founded The Village Goldsmith 30 years ago, is taking his work around the world.
He signed a deal in February to supply designs to Chinese bridal jewellery chain Hiersun. Douglas is working on designs for a similar deal with a Canadian diamond cutting company that wants to sell its own line of jewellery that The Village Goldsmith would design.
Douglas will head to Britain in September to meet with "the biggest jewellery manufacturer in the UK" about design deals structured in a similar way and is in talks with a Philippines-based jewellery company.
In the Chinese deal, The Village Goldsmith is designing one-off pieces tailored to the growing market wearing Western- style diamond engagement rings.
Only 6 per cent of married Chinese women sport bling on their left hands and that is tipped to grow rapidly.
The deal is structured so The Village Goldsmith supplies designs, and the rights to sell jewellery made from them in Hong Kong, Macau and China will remain with the retailer. Douglas' company will get paid in royalties.
There are five jewellers working at The Village Goldsmith but if these deals all go ahead, when cashflows increase, more designers will be hired.
"We've got a real aim to build a design hub here in Wellington so that we can start taking on a lot of young graduate talent coming out of our design schools.
"We just don't have enough opportunity for them. We're training up some brilliant young minds but we just don't have the market opportunity here - we're losing too many of these people," Douglas said.
Wellington women wanting to be unique often come in off the street to talk to The Village Goldsmith in Mercer St about making a special engagement ring, and typically it only takes a few days to draft up a 3-D computer design version for the bride-to-be.
This quick-turnaround bespoke work has taught the company to design quickly, a skill serving it well in working with Hiersun.
"We can develop a design from a hand-drawn concept to a CAD image to a physically made piece of jewellery in just a few weeks," Douglas said.
"If they ask us to come up with a certain style we can come back pretty quickly with some workable concepts and I think that's really surprised them."
Working with the Chinese chain was not without hitches because computer design images of rings are not quite the same as seeing the real thing on someone's finger.
Only 30 per cent of the designs were accepted straight away, but while Douglas was visiting Beijing as part of the recent mayoral delegation to China a further 30 per cent were approved in person.
He is confident this model of selling jewellery designs can work in other markets. "It's just that belief and knowledge that you have that premium product. We don't mind the challenge - that's what Kiwis are good at, saying we'll take on the world."
- © Fairfax NZ News
With festive flags and trees out this year, is council killing Christmas?Related story: Council takes the cheer out of Christmas