Healesville jeweller turning old jewellery collections into a single unique piece

Words and images by Jay Dillon
Additional images supplied

Like so many makers during the lockdown periods of 2020 and 2021, Jeweller Tim Peel and partner Liz were witness to an astonishing increase of customers who wished to have their collection of gold and gemstones reimagined into one singular piece with significant personal importance.

Many requests came with a personal story of loss and love and often these stories would provide the inspiration for a unique jewellery piece for the owner.

Jewellery Maker Yarra Valley

Liz speaks of a time one customer called, who had recently lost her husband. The couple had married 27 years earlier in the month of September and it was her intention to fulfil his desire to celebrate their 30th anniversary with a sapphire. After hearing her story of loss and plans for remembrance, Liz suggested that her husband’s wedding band be the structural base for the sapphire stones.

‘I think a lot of people have shifted from the idea of accumulating a large collection of rings and necklaces and making the decision to bring them all together into a special and unique piece of jewellery that will become an heirloom of sorts’.

Developing a craft

Tim started tinkering with metal in his fathers’ shed as a boy growing up in Yarra Junction. The passion continued through high school, TAFE and onto the completion of a degree at Monash University, ultimately leading to a job at a jewellery store in the CBD. This was the same store that Liz had previously worked at, and through this connection a loving relationship bloomed, culminating in the union of marriage in 1995.

Eventually, the couple moved back to near where Tim grew up, choosing to make the small bustling village of Healesville a home for their young family. The town also became the location for a studio where Tim could continue in his dedication to his craft, creating exquisite custom pieces formed by the personal stories of his customers.

Even as a master jeweller himself, Tim continues to develop his skills by learning from others and studying new and revisiting old jewellery-making techniques. This includes a continued dedication to the skill of stone setting and gemology, a journey that started by studying alongside Australian jewellery legend Rex Steele Merten (the only Australian jeweller to have won four Diamonds International Awards) before he sadly passed away in 2020.

Healesville Jewellery Maker

‘People are surprised to learn that even the most accomplished jeweller will send the ring and gemstones elsewhere to be mounted. Setting is considered a separate skill and can take years of dedicated practice to become proficient in’.

From quality comes trust

In recent years, Tim and Liz have noticed a shift in people’s understanding of quality when it comes to jewellery and their customers really benefit from their skill in gemstone selection. The Silvermist benchmark for diamonds is an FG colour and VS clarity, which is not something that is normally available at the jewellery chain stores.

In the industry, we jokingly refer to these diamonds as petrified pixie poo, because they are usually cloudy, murky, translucent at best and often full of inclusions. Once upon a time, these diamonds would have been considered industrial grade.

Due to 20 years of building a relationship with local gemstone suppliers, Tim and Liz have the ability to arrange a viewing for the customer that includes a number of gemstones that they can select from.

‘The dealers that I work with have already done the legwork. They have filtered out the rubbish and are only providing our studio with high-quality stones’.

Reputation built through connection

Since the uplift in customers placing orders online rather than in person, Liz has realised the importance of developing trust with the customer.

‘I like to share photos of our family on holidays and out to dinner amongst images from the studio and of individual jewellery creations. I feel it’s important to show that we are people just like them and they are going to receive the personal service that they might not get from the big jewellery chains’.

Jewellery Maker Healesville

Recently, Liz was able to provide an extra level of personal service to a lady whose son was marrying a Vietnamese girl. Liz has first-hand experience, via a Vietnamese brother-in-law, of the custom for the groom’s family to offer gifts to the family of the bride including bespoke jewellery pieces.

Liz encourages all past customers to leave honest reviews, as this is also an important part of building trust with customers who may be placing orders from as far away as Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.

‘We understand that it can be a big decision for people to commission a jeweller to create a piece that is made with the intention of being passed through the family for generations to come. We are grateful to have a long list of positive reviews that we can direct people to so that they can have that piece of mind’.

Who: Silvermist Studio
Where: Healesville
More details: Silvermist Studio