Behind the Craft: Inside Our Workshop
Words by Megan Greaney
We’re proud to have an in-house Australian workshop at Michael Hill. As one of very few jewellery retailers with an in-house workshop to this day, our incredible team of artisans craft and hand-finish pieces for several of our exclusive Bridal Collections and fashion styles.
For the latest story in our ‘Behind the Craft’ series, we asked our Manufacturing Manager, Grant, to share with us a day-in-the-life inside the workshop and some of the lesser-known facts about jewellery crafting.
1. What’s a day-in-the-life in the workshop (if there is such a thing)?
I’m incredibly proud to oversee the running of Michael Hill Manufacturing. We have a very diverse multicultural group of artisans. Collectively we have 582 years of jewellery making knowledge and experience.
No one day is the same. Currently we’re in our busiest period and have been since July, as we prepare a range of bridal and fashion jewellery, as well as special orders, for the festive season.
We’re also working on a beautiful range of jewellery which can be engraved for our customers.
One of the best parts about being involved in manufacturing is that we help capture moments in time that celebrate love. We are all about the moments that matter at Michael Hill.
2. What’s something most people don’t know about the Michael Hill workshop?
There are several things that set our workshop apart. For one, we are the largest jewellery manufacturer in Australia and New Zealand.
Keeping up with the latest advancements in technology and machinery is an important focus for us, enabling us to remain at the leading edge in jewellery making.
Another big distinction is the fact that we have our own casting department. Very few jewellery workshops can boast this capability. This enables us to brew our very own high-quality precious metal alloys which are unique only to our workshop.
3. What’s a part of jewellery crafting that people have probably never heard of?
I’m sure everyone by now has heard about 3D printing. What people might not be aware of is that this technology has taken the jewellery trade to the next level. We have embraced this technology in our workshop in a major way. By using computer driven programs and 3D wax printers, we are able to manipulate designs, making the piece perfectly accurate and with very little wastage of metal.
4. What’s the most important step in jewellery crafting?
Without a doubt quality control is by far the most important step in the jewellery manufacturing process. We have seven quality gates in our workshop. Everyone is responsible for appraising their own work before handing the piece over to the next stage. We have team leaders in place at each of these gates who oversee the departments’ quality and they are responsible for ensuring the piece meets our very high standards. Each of those seven departments have a team of specialists.
5. Can you tell us a little bit about your own background and how you became a Jeweller with Michael Hill?
I have been working at Michael Hill for over 30 years. I was the first Diamond Setter employed when the workshop started in Brisbane, on Edward Street in the 1980s.
I guess getting into jewellery was meant to be for me. At a very young age I used to pick up all sorts of stones off the school playgrounds. I categorised them by the lustre, the pattern, and the size. The school I attended offered a work experience program and it was a no-brainer that I wanted to undertake work as a Jeweller.
6. You’ve gathered some amazing jewellery knowledge over the years - could you give us some of your favourite fun facts?
I always like to ask people, “do you know where gold comes from?”
99.9% say it comes from the ground. This is correct - but it’s not where it originates from! I love seeing the expressions on people’s faces when I say it’s from a star going into supernova and exploding; gold is part of the remnants of that exploding star.
How amazing is it to have a former star wrapped around your finger? Your very own piece of the universe.
Words by Megan Greaney
Megan has been a writer for over 10 years, and has been writing content at Michael Hill for over two years where she has gained an extensive knowledge of jewellery – from styling and craftsmanship to materials and stones. With a background that also includes fashion, and studies of Journalism and Anthropology, she is perceptive of the emotions and cultural contexts linked to what we wear.
Last updated 5th October, 2021