I made a pair of earrings recently and found the whole process enjoyable and not nearly as tricky as it looks.
And now anyone can make their own jewellery at individual or group tutorials at the new Te Aranui Gallery, workshop and retail outlet at Panama.
The process includes cutting, shaping, soldering, polishing and stamping, and gallery co-owner and qualified goldsmith Francis Kirkham checks every piece before it leaves the gallery.
Kirkham says it can be a good bonding experience for work teams and corporates alike. “It’s a good team building opportunity.
“Visitors can come in to the workshop/gallery and make a pair of sterling silver earrings for just $65, materials inclusive,” says Kirkham. You can also bring in your own pearls to make jewellery.
Kirkham and business partner Vaiana George, a competent jeweller in her own right, recently set up their new business opposite The Islander Hotel.
The gallery offers five week classes for beginners and people can return for more advanced classes.
Kirkman himself creates unique and limited edition and commission pieces and is drawn to the contemporary side of jewellery design.
He first trained as a teacher and taught technology, wood and metal work and graphics, in England. Always interested in jewellery-making, he began classes and loving the challenge, made pieces to sell.
He continued to sell at markets and then bought his own retail outlet. Moving to New Zealand became a stepping stone for him and his wife to work and live in Rarotonga.
His biggest sellers are his starfruit earrings and necklaces, but he says feather earrings based on the extinct New Zealand bird the huia are also popular.
“I can do anything though - silver mounted shells, pearl mounts, and people can just come in and tell me what they want.”
Te Aranui Gallery supplied eight pieces of jewellery for the recent Miss Cook Islands Tropicana evening.