by Kate McGregor
When John Anderson became president of Davidson’s Jewellers in June 2010, he took the helm of a well-established family business with a loyal clientele and deep roots in the Glebe. Now, six years later, he has realized his dream of building an in-house jewellery repair and manufacturing workshop on the premises of the store at 790 Bank Street.
Offering in-house jewellery repair and manufacturing services means that most of the work for customers can take place right on the premises without having to rely solely on outsourcing pieces by mail or FedEx.
The new workshop is located in the basement of the store and was carefully planned and executed with the health and safety of its employees front and centre. Every detail was considered, from how the gas would be installed, to how the dust would be extracted and where the clean air sources would be.
Construction of the workshop started in January 2016 and was completed in June. The workshop is located adjacent to the Gem Room where jewellery is graded and appraised, and is dominated by industrial-sized, silver ducts. This is also the room where Walter Van Der Molen and Sandi Webster work.
Having used their services off-site, it was a natural fit for Anderson to hire Van Der Molen and Webster for the new workshop. Van Der Molen is a certified goldsmith from Holland who started work in the industry at age 17. He came to Canada nine years ago and lives in Aylmer. Webster is a master goldsmith from Switzerland who started in the business at age 16. She came to Canada at age 23 and lives in the Glebe. Together, the duo offers a combined 60 years of experience as certified goldsmiths who design, create and repair jewellery.
Van Der Molen and Webster stress the importance of the rigorous formal training they received in their countries of birth to certify as goldsmiths. It means that customers can trust the integrity of the advice and services they receive from Davidson’s Jewellers.
Workshop services include repairing, restoring and remaking pieces of fine jewellery, ring sizing, claw retipping, chain soldering, clasp replacement, pearl and bead stringing, cleaning and polishing.
The synergies of two goldsmiths working together in one space are evident. As Van Der Molen pointed out, “We both assist each other very well. We talk about each other’s work, we talk about new designs and there is a creative process that takes place.” Webster added, “There is nothing I have not seen before in a repair… there is a wisdom we have in terms of what to do.”
With Van Der Molen focusing primarily on repairs, Webster spends much of her time on custom work, employing wax carving, an age-old technique, as the starting point for sculpting new pieces of jewellery.
Like contemporary artisans the world over, Van Der Molen and Webster work in an industry that seeks to balance the creativity of hand crafted work with new technologies. While computer-assisted design programs are becoming increasingly popular for jewellery designs, the software cannot match the artistry Webster employs to create a one-of-a-kind engagement ring.
On the other hand, the purchase of a laser welder for the workshop was a smart purchase. The newest generation of equipment uses a sharply focused beam of light to produce very high heat on a small area to weld broken pieces of jewellery together without the risks associated with the older torch technology that required that gemstones be removed from their mounts first before applying heat.
So, next time you are wondering if your mother’s pearl necklace is worth re-stringing or if you should have the gemstone in your favourite ring replaced, Anderson encourages you to drop by the store for a free estimate. Turnarounds on repairs are generally one week and rush jobs can be accommodated. And should you decide to proceed with a job, you can trust that your jewellery is in the skilled hands of two highly qualified goldsmiths who love their work.
Kate McGregor is a certified Integral Master Coach™. To inquire about her services: 613-884-1864;firstname.lastname@example.org; www.kmcoaching.ca.
790 Bank Street
Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.