…To Hatton Studios, in our very own Hong Kong. A jewellery studio & workshop full of exciting opportunities for all from the budding jewellery designer to a complete novice (me). I have no previous experience in jewellery making, and I am also not the most steady handed when it comes to working on a small scale, but I wanted to make my husband something special for our wedding anniversary. Since he is always short of cufflinks, this struck me as the perfect opportunity either to create a stylish statement pair of cufflinks or (more likely) to form two blobs of polished metal and pretend the design was intentional!
The studio is nestled away in the heart of Sheung Wan. As soon as you enter the small (yet functional) space, you can see that this studio means business. Immediately on entering the studio, I felt certain that I would leave the studio after my four-session course feeling confident with metal and owning some jewellery that I (and hopefully my husband) could be proud of. Upon arrival you are greeted by Nathalie Melville, the founder of Hatton Studios & Melville Fine Jewellery, who invites you into her world with a warm smile and a bubbly personality to match. Read on to find out some personal facts about Nathalie in our Q&A at the end…
Nathalie, the studio owner, goldmith & designer, is a creative and incredibly approachable tutor. She took a very hands-on approach to the course and made the entire process extremely simple and exciting. Nathalie studied at Saint Martins in London and has worked for many international brands, including Tiffany and Shanghai Tang. She is extremely knowledgable and will even allow you to book private classes to make an extra special piece.
My workshop comprised four 2.5 hour sessions. The first session was purely intended to get you accustomed working with metal and to familiarise yourself with the tools you would be using throughout the course, but that did not stop me from making a small pendant to take home that day. This was not only an additional bonus (two pieces of jewellery for the price of one – yes please!) but a very simple way of easing you into the workshop.
Throughout the sessions, I worked with Nathalie on my cufflink design, from marking out the shape to cutting the metal and even adding personal touches such as initialling the back of the cufflinks. I was dying to try my hand at annealing & hammering metal, which I thought would create the perfect finish to the face of my cufflinks. Not only did the hammering process create a stylish pair of cufflinks – it was also surprisingly therapeutic!
When all the filing and soldering is complete and you have added any finishing touches, you have to say goodbye to your cherished pieces (not for long) while they go into the barrel polisher to develop that final bling!
I have nothing but great things to say about this workshop. Not only did the experience leave me wanting to make more jewellery (which I am already discussing with Nathalie), but my husband was delighted with his bespoke present (he even thought I had bought them – maybe he was just trying to flatter me?!)
I was lucky enough to catch up with Nathalie for a cup of herbal tea and asked her a few questions – enjoy!
Lovingly Made: What is the most unusual piece of jewellery you have been commissioned to do?
Hatton Studios: Wearing my Hatton Studios course director hat, I have been asked to work with students on everything from a diamond and tourmaline cocktail ring, (30 hours of private classes later she had completed the most stunning ring), through to a top hat wearing, skull tie pin! As the Creative Director of Melville Fine Jewellery, I have created pieces ranging from a Tim Burton inspired engagement ring to a pair of 100+ carat citrine and sapphire earrings for a charity auction.
LM: What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to get into jewellery?
HS: First, know you are passionate about it. The jewellery industry is vast and covers so many disciplines, so it is a steep (and often challenging) learning curve. My advice would vary, depending on which area was of interest. However, and I say this from the bias of being a goldsmith, start practical! I have had students who have come to me after years in the gem trade, or in the PR side, wanting to understand what goes on behind the scenes. Other students have thought design was their niche and then sat at the bench and fallen in love with the craftsmanship side of it. If you understand what goes into making a piece you can better understand how to design, market or sell it. From there you can choose the course, apprenticeship or on-the-job training programme that suits your needs. Equally, I am always happy for people to ask my advice on that!
LM: What’s your favourite boutique in HK?
HS: I love Pretty Dangerous and Ame Gallery – they really champion some great local and international jewellery designers. For clothes, it has to be Polkadot Boutique. They have such a great selection and really understand the female form.
LM: What do you like to do in your spare time to unwind in this forever-changing concrete jungle?
HS: Spare time… What is this urban myth?! In all seriousness, I live, love and breathe what I do – so between Hatton Studios and Melville Fine Jewellery it doesn’t feel like work. We do have two lovely rescue dogs, who are often in the studio with me, and walking them is great to clear my head or catch up with my husband. (He is an entrepreneur so works even longer hours than I do!) We also work together a lot as we run multiple social ventures under our charitable organization, The Fargo Foundation – from Street Poppy (a monthly art programme for vulnerable youth groups) to the Hong Kong Treasure Hunt (an annual charity adventure race around HK). I am also in the process of setting up an ethical jewellery platform that will address education, advocacy and action within the industry. Aside from that, and catching up with our amazing friends who put up with our antisocial hours, I sleep!
LM: Finally, what exciting plans do you have in store for the rest of 2014?
HS: So many!!! Hatton Studios is expanding its course availability to include medium to long-term courses that are more tailored to preparing students to enter the market. Having trained at Saint Martins, I had the luxury of working on some amazing, industry led projects – from Cartier to Links of London. I feel there is disconnect in Hong Kong between the industry and the education sector and want to address that with our in-depth courses. We are also hoping to expand to a larger site – but whether that is a 2014 or 2015 move, we’ll have to keep you posted…
I would like to say a huge thank you to Nathalie for allowing me to capture some beautiful photographs of my cufflinks and her studio and also for taking the time to respond to my questions.
The workshop costs HK$2,750, which includes the materials, so sign up now; you won’t be disappointed! This could be the new spin on what’s hot for your next hen party or baby shower?
Enjoy your weekend and maybe start it off with a cheeky sign up to Hatton Studios… (just saying).
All photographs are property of Lovingly Made.