If you’ve stumbled across this very website (and blog), you’re probably a fan of all things bespoke. Many people find us here at Distinctive Chesterfields because they’re in the market for a piece of furniture that has been created by hand to their exact specifications and requirements. We’re proud of our craftsmen here in Honley, West Yorkshire; we know the skill involved in creating a recognisable piece of art or design from scratch. With this in mind, we’re launching a new series here on the blog – Handmade Heroes.
The series will promote the work of some of our favourite artisans – from jewellers, to those who upcycle old furniture, to people creating beautiful garments from stunning fabrics – and it’ll run once a month here on our chesterfield sofas blog.
First up in the Handmade Heroes spotlight, then, is Sri-Lankan born, London-based jewellery maker, Tamara Gomez.
Above: Jewellery maker Tamara Gomez
Crafting fine jewellery using sterling silver, various carats of gold, diamonds and gem stones, Tamara creates and designs her work in her central London Cockpit Arms studio. Having always used gemstones in her work, Tamara’s choice of stone is often based on cut, colour, shape and form as opposed to commercial value and she uses assorted cuts of diamonds including rough cut and rose cut diamonds.
Here, we chat to Tamara herself about her life, loves and beautiful jewellery…
Distinctive Chesterfields (DC): So, what sparked your interest in making jewellery for a living?
Tamara: I always enjoyed art so thought I should follow that route because it was something I enjoyed. I became attracted to jewellery and metalwork while on my art foundation course and it wasn’t jewellery so much that attracted me rather working small scale, with detail and enjoying working in metal.
DC: You were born in Sri-Lanka; do you take any influences from the Sri-Lankan way of life in your jewellery-making?
Tamara: My parents moved here in 1961 and it was only because my mum visiting family back in Sri-Lanka that I was born there. I do go back to visit family and for holidays. I find the rich source of gems an inspiration and when I last went back two years ago was inspired by a lot of flora and fauna that I saw there.
DC: You’ve recently begun making ceramics. How does this compare to the art of making jewellery?
Tamara: The ceramics started out as a hobby. My mum collected a lot of ceramics and I collect milk jugs. Making ceramics is very liberating compared to jewellery. The material costs are a fraction and I feel I can be more free with the act of making. Though I have found there are many skills I have learnt from goldsmithing that can be applied to the hand built ceramics I make. I like doing both, it makes life more interesting and varied.
Above: Some of Tamara’s stunning pieces
DC: How often do you work to commissions? And do you prefer making jewellery to people’s exact specifications, or do you relish the opportunity to be creative and design your own pieces?
Tamara: I am constantly working to commission alongside producing stock for collections. People come to me because they like the style of my work and the materials I use, so I have a strong say in the design as that is what they are paying for. Often working to commission can release new ideas that I may not have thought about and that can then feed into my own work. So both ways of working are good as they can influence the other.
DC: What’s your favourite gemstone to work with and why?
Tamara: Diamonds, because of the huge variety of cuts, colours and qualities. I love working with rough diamonds. They are uncut, meaning that each one is unique and will have its own physical and visual properties.
DC: What would you say to someone who wants to try a career in making jewellery?
Tamara: Despite the jewellery trade being saturated with jewellers, it is still a great industry to work in. Be prepared to work long hours and to do it for the passion and not necessarily the money! Attention to detail, a strong work ethic and sense of who you are in terms of your work/designs are important.
DC: Jewellery making aside, what other profession might you have enjoyed as much?
Tamara: I thought I was going to be a surgeon like my father, but didn’t cut it with grades at school. Looking back though I know I made the right choice.
DC: If you could invite three people to a dinner party, who would you choose and why?
Tamara: The Comedian Peter Kay always sees the funny in the mundane of life. The actor Gary Oldman – love his films and I bet he has loads of funny stories to tell. The chef Raymond Blanc – I would ask to him to cook the dinner and then join us to eat it!
DC: Finally, can you tell us what you are you currently working on? Any exciting projects on the way?
Tamara: I’m expanding my collections and experimenting with rough sapphires. I have also got an exhibition coming up at The Southbank Centre towards the end of May, where I will be displaying some new ceramics and hanging talismans.
For more about Tamara, or to see the full jewellery collection, head to www.tamaragomez.com. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our blog for more interviews with fellow craftspeople.