Jewellery: Tarquin Precious Metalsmiths

Last week we posted Part 4 of our Engagement Ring series, telling you about the process of getting your engagement ring custom-made. If you are looking to get your ring designed (or designed for your wife-to-be), go back and read through that post. We had internationally renowned jeweller, Tarquin Di Domenico, share with us his tips for getting a ring hand-crafted to be uniquely yours. Today we share an interview we did with him about his business, Tarquin Precious Metalsmiths - enjoy!

Tarquin and his brothers, Rocque and Marcus, collectively have nearly one hundred years of experience in jewellery design and the art of hand crafting precious metal jewellery. Throughout the world, their jewellery design work has been appreciated by royalty, presidents, first ladies, mayors and many of the most famous Hollywood actors such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Oliver Reed. Their third studio opened in Hillcrest in February 2006, where Tarquin now creates a new range of exclusive jewellery for export and the South African local market using a mix of American, European and African design concepts.Tarquin has since developed a new white precious metal to the world called Ptag 8. The metal has been developed to meet the demand for white metal jewellery at more affordable prices. They like to ensure their customers the very best works of art from a team with a passion!
How did you get into jewellery design? 
Has it been a dream since you were young?
My family moved to Rhodesia when I was eight years old. I remember having a pendant from Johannesburg that everyone there commented on. One day I made a mould of the pendant and made a few hundred out of lead in my back yard with just a fire, an old coffee tin and a lot of help from my friends. I enjoyed experimenting and come from an artistic family. Jewellery seemed like a very cool hobby to have. I did want to study chemical engineering but didn’t learn Afrikaans at school. So when we moved back to Johannesburg (I was about 16) I decided to take on a jewellery apprenticeship and learn Afrikaans at night school. After a while I realised that jewellery as my secondary interest or “hobby” had grown into a great passion. I started manufacturing jewellery at the age of 16 and have been a jeweller now for 37 years.
 We have heard you are running a course for up-and-coming jewellery designers. Tell us about it.
I offer a Wax Course that runs over one month. Our objective is to promote the industry and create an interest. The course is a very basic introduction into jewellery, where we not only teach jewellery design but also teach how to transform a 2D drawing into a 3D model. This model would be carved out of wax which is a blue/purple/green material that is soft enough to be cut out but hard enough to keep detail and precise measurements. This wax model will then be placed into an investment (a sort of plaster) and cast into a precious metal. That cast is then cleaned, polished and can be sold. Wax carving is a relatively inexpensive way to learn some fundamental jewellery-making techniques. Below is an example of a design in 2D with a 3D wax model and the finished 18ct yellow gold product.
Ilona Stichling, a jewellery design and manufacture graduate from the University of Johannesburg, recently finished our course. She said that she really enjoyed it and found it extremely beneficial to have wax carving techniques. She highly recommends it and will definitely be able to use the new techniques in the future. Having said this, we want to just add here that the course can be done by anyone – no previous jewellery skills are required. If anyone is interested to learn how to carve jewellery out of wax and cast it into a precious metal, then please feel free to contact us and we can provide more details.

What inspires your design?
I design jewellery according to what my customer wants. Once I have a basic idea or direction from my client I look for outside inspirations like nature or natural shapes. If the piece of jewellery has a stone, on the other hand, then I tend to design around the stone because the metal needs to compliment the stone as much as possible.
Tell us about your jewellery design aesthetic.
I really enjoy combining classical design with contemporary design and vice versa. I also like making fine jewellery with intricate details. I also want to push boundaries in jewellery design by creating pieces that are unique and totally different.
And what are your engagement ring rates?
They can range between R10 000 to R150 000 but we work according to our clients budget. We do require a R400 design deposit which is deducted off the total price once our client goes ahead with the job.

Tell us about yourself in 3 words.
Great appreciator of beauty.
How can people get hold of you if they’d like to get something done?
They are very welcome to visit our shop at: Shop 16, Heritage Centre, Hillcrest. We are open Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 5pm. We have stock available to look at but if they are looking to have a design made by us, we do require them to please make an appointment.
Tel: (031) 765 8946 -- Cell: 084 208 5567

All ring images belong to Tarquin Precious Metalsmiths, and cannot be used or reproduced without permission.

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