Meet The Cornish Jeweller, Thomas Matthews

What's it like to run a jewellery business from Cornwall's largest creative hub?

Today we find out, as we chat to Thomas Matthews, a jeweller who has recently opened a studio in Krowji.

We chat to Tom all about how his jewellery making journey started, his top tips for those wishing to have their own handmade business and why he chose to have a studio rather than work from home.

Tom has had over 1,300 sales on Etsy, and it's no surprise with his attention to detail and use of beautiful gemstones.

He often creates engagement rings and takes commissions, ensuring he creates the most high-quality pieces - we even get an insight into his creative processes and behind the scenes action!

Head to our blog for more Meet The Jeweller features

"I find the best way to learn a new technique is to study the theory and fully understand how the technique works..."

Hi Tom, tell us how you first discovered making jewellery!

I discovered jewellery making when a family member took a short silversmithing course, this peeked my interest and I started researching and watching YouTube videos for more information.

From there my passion has grown, along with my tool collection! I opened my Etsy shop with just a few items as a hobby and before I knew it I was fortunate enough to be able to make jewellery my full-time job.

How did you make the decision to make jewellery full time?

After opening my Etsy shop in 2015 sales were slow but building, in late 2016 my shop and sales had increased and I made the decision to leave my part-time job and focus on jewellery making full time.

What was your experience like learning jewellery making techniques?

Learning new techniques has sometimes been frustrating, but always rewarding (in the end).

I find the best way to learn a new technique is to study the theory and fully understand how the technique works, that way I have a better understanding of the process, helping me to master the practical side.

What are your favourite materials to work with?

My favourite materials to work are sterling silver, 18ct yellow gold and gemstones of course. Silver is a great material to work with, I love to make men’s heavy silver bands and it offers great affordability compared with gold and platinum.

18ct yellow gold has a great colour and is stronger than sterling silver, this allows me to create much daintier designs without compromising on strength.

How would you describe your jewellery in 3 words?

Simple, traditional and colourful

You recently moved into Krowji in Redruth, tell us more about why you chose this space and how you made it your own

Before moving into to my studio at Krowji I was working from an outbuilding at home.

Although it was great to work from home, I much prefer being surrounded by other creative people.

It opened up a whole new network of connections and it’s great being able to share some of my own knowledge and experiences with other members too.

As I have not long moved in I am still making it my own by building new benches and customizing the space for my needs, I hope to soon be able to offer jewellery making workshops and private tuition too.

thomas matthews jewellery

Top three favourite gemstones?

Diamond, Opal and Tourmaline

"I personally like to start with a rough idea and allow the design to evolve as I make it. I find I create my most popular designs this way and it really tests my practical skills..."

What is the best thing about being a jeweller in Cornwall?

Since moving into Krowji I have noticed just how much support and guidance there is available for creative people living in Cornwall.

There’s also a very good mentality in Cornwall for supporting local businesses, which is great to be a part of.

We love your use of gemstones in your designs, how do you choose which ones you use - especially if you're using more than one!

I quite often design the jewellery around the gemstone and tailor the design to what I think would best suit the cut and shape of the stone.

Hardness is also a key factor when designing a new piece, this will help decide the best type of setting to avoid damage to the stone when setting and withstand years of everyday wearing.

Favourite spot in Cornwall?

Porthtowan is somewhere I love to visit, I have enjoyed many days surfing and relaxing on the beach reading a book with my partner. Whenever we’ve got free time you’ll quite often find us there!

What has been your favourite commission so far?

I was fortunate enough to be asked to make an engagement ring for my brother. It was a challenging task at the time but I was able to create the ring to his exact requirements and learn some new techniques in the process.

I look forward to hopefully one day to be able to do this for other family members and friends.

What kind of person do you envisage wearing your pieces when designing your jewellery?

I’ve found that a wide variety of people like my jewellery, when designing a new piece, I create what I feel looks good don’t try to appeal to a specific demographic.

Do you like to stay up to date with current trends?

I tend not to follow trends and prefer to create the jewellery I like and hope others do too. Moving forward with my business I want to focus on creating timeless fine jewellery and include influences from modern and traditional techniques.

You create stunning engagement rings, what is your process of designing these pieces?

Many designers bring their new ideas to life by sketching and planning every detail, I personally like to start with a rough idea and allow the design to evolve as I make it. I find I create my most popular designs this way and it really tests my practical skills.

A key factor in designing an engagement ring is to ensure that it withstands the test of time, this is why each piece I design not only showcases the gemstone but is also practical.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start selling their jewellery?

To keep costs down, e-commerce platforms such as Etsy are a great way to start selling. They charge far less commission then retail stores and allows you to start a business without any capital.

I would also recommend starting with selling adjustable or one size fits all jewellery such as necklaces, earrings or adjustable rings. This allows you to make at your own speed and not have the stress of deadlines for made to order pieces.

There are lots of free videos and blogs online with great information for starting a handmade business, websites such as Kernowcraft and YouTube have been an invaluable resource for me and I recommend them to anyone wanting to sell their jewellery.

Check out Kernowcraft's advice pages here

Follow Thomas' Jewellery Making Journey Online...

InstagramFacebookEtsy

thomas matthews jewellery

Thomas' Top Kernowcraft Picks...

Sterling Silver Beaded Wire

This is a great product for making stacking rings and adding detail to a piece.

Alligator tape

A must have to avoid damaged jewellers fingers!

Limited edition stones

There’s always a great selection of unique gemstones to inspire a piece with Kernowcraft. Pictured: Australian Opal Doublet