Meet jeweller Debra Fallowfield

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Using age-old traditions of forging, wax carving, piercing, soldering and fusing, New Zealand jeweller Debra Fallowfield crafts contemporary wedding and engagement rings that are unlike any other. She specialises in bespoke pieces that are as unique as its wearer’s fingerprint. Read on to find out more about this talented creative!

What was your inspiration for the business? I’ve been a jeweller now for nearly 20 years – so I’m a bit beyond that! But I’ve always been creative – even as a child I was always sewing sequins or rhinestones on my clothing, painting or making stuff from such an early age. I knew I would eventually stumble on an art-based career.

How did you go about starting up? My first ever work bench was set down the alley beside where I rented in Darlinghurst, Sydney. It was just an old office table (probably found on council cleanup day!) – I could only work when it was fine. That was many, many years ago now! I guess back then I just started working on a few pieces to sell in various retail outlets and galleries around New Zealand and Australia. I also did a lot of art/craft markets to get an idea of what people wanted. It was a slow progression; gradually my customer base grew enough to turn what was originally a ‘hobby’ into a full time business. Today, my husband also works with me.

What are you offering that is different from the rest? The complete package! I am the designer AND the maker AND everything I create is made by hand and generally ‘one-of-a-kind’. Even if I repeat a design, it will never be an exact replica as I don’t use CAD (computer aided design) or molds. I am fanatical about finish and craftsmanship and making heirloom pieces. I am so incredibly different to the mainstream, mass-produced jewellery labels out there, and obviously my main business is custom-made or ‘bespoke’ engagement and wedding rings for those wanting to stand out. I’m also very honest and my customers appreciate it. With custom work being my main business, the customer and I must be completely on the same page. It’s imperative that I listen well. Too many jewellers forget that and go off on their own tangent. Because I do one-on-one appointments with my clients, they get to deal with the designer and the maker. Plus, I am very intuitive as to what suits the individual. I take into account their lifestyle, colouring, and hand and finger shapes when they visit. It’s all about finding the right fit! I would never put my customer in a style that both them and I were not 100 per cent comfortable with! I have no formal jewellery training nor did I go to art school; I lamented for years about not attending art school, but now that I am older I feel it’s a blessing in disguise! I have such a distinct style – being pretty much self taught (apart from the basics) has meant I do things so differently to most jewellers. That’s what sets me apart – I think outside the box and I take risks. I was mixing gold colours together long before it was fashionable. I look at what’s happening today in the jewellery world and think, “Heck, I was doing that 15 years ago!” I use the best gems I can find whether natural or man-made. I’m a huge advocate for some of the latest man-made gems. They have the look and durability of a diamond, yet are grown in a lab so no new mining has taken place. This aligns with my personal values: I’m all about reusing, recycling and using ethical practices.

What gets you out of bed every day? I’m very disciplined – I have to be as I am in such high demand for custom work. If I don’t get up, nothing gets done!

What do you love about your job? The look on people’s faces when they pick up their engagement and or wedding rings – often there’s a lot of hugging!

What does marriage mean to you? Love, forgiveness, communication, working together, and listening – listening is a BIG one!

Tell us about your favourite experience as a business owner? I used to do an art market in Christchurch, New Zealand every weekend in the early days of my career. At the time, Tilda Swinton was in town filming The Narnia movies. She stopped at my stand with the director and between them they pretty much cleaned out my whole collection!

Credits

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