“Craftmanship is about far more than being a skilled maker.” Says Melanie Eddy, who spoke to Ryan Nelson about the quest to find perfection as a young goldsmith and diamond mounter in the 21st century jewellery industry.
Despite his youth, Ryan Nelson is a jeweller in the old-fashioned sense of the word, painstakingly crafting pieces directly in metal. What many in the UK industry would refer to as a diamond mounter, refers to one working by hand to fabricate the framework and components (frequently known as mounts) for gem-set jewellery pieces directly in precious metals with techniques that have stood the test of time. Moving from cold to hot repeatedly, step by step forging, forming and fitting until the raw precious metal is shaped into the required design. Many of our most skilled craftsmen and women in this area remain essentially behind the scenes.
Very few that start out in fine jewellery along this path end up as the face of namesake jewellery brands. Fewer still those of black heritage. Not only has Ryan bucked this trend striking out on his own (as encouraged by his mother Michelle) but also explicitly putting his face to the brand he has founded. In doing so he has shed a spotlight on many of the processes behind this traditional specialist jewellery role.
A life-long passion for making is almost always cited by those who take on the task of mastering a craft, and Ryan is no exception. As a child he was fascinated by the tools in his father’s workshop, his father Michael being a jeweller. That early desire to form, cut and melt metal stood him in good stead for the career he was later to embark upon.
His father was an incredible craftsman who could make pretty much anything with his hands, but his work ultimately took him into managing a large workshop, processing big orders. It was fast paced work – consistency, speed and efficiency all key to success. Being close to this way of working instilled an incredible amount of discipline in Ryan. This combined with his experiences as an apprentice, spending 5 years with David Lawes (Hatton Garden based jeweller with 40 years’ experience), where he inevitably had to slow down and cultivate the patience and dedication required to fabricate one-off bespoke pieces set the tone for his move later on, after further time working as a mounter, to establishing his own jewellery studio.