Diamond Guild Australia would like to extend a warm welcome to Whitakers Jewellers as our newest member of the Guild.
The Whitaker family jewellery business was established by John Whitaker’s great grandfather in 1903, and since then the family has etched their name as leaders in the Hunter’s jewellery trade.
Today, John Whitaker of Whitakers Jewellers carries on the family legacy of over one hundred years, with specialties in Diamonds, Custom Jewellery Design and Precious Gemstones.
A fourth-generation jeweller, John has always been familiar with the trade. John says his technical training was essential in his development, but he learnt many important lessons by osmosis.
“I picked up so much simply from hearing stories my father told around the dinner table. That’s where you learn those important lessons about working with people and the ethical standards you want to try and live up to; those belief systems have really shaped my work.”
John studied to become a Graduate Gemologist at the Gemmological Institute of America in residence, giving him the technical skills needed to complement the practical, hands-on skills passed down by his father.
While studying at the GIA, John first felt particularly drawn to diamonds, fine gems and custom design. “I spent my weekends visiting galleries and auctions at Sotheby’s, pouring over old auction catalogues to see how design had evolved. I wanted to expose myself to as much ‘good design’ as possible. I just loved being immersed in it, and I knew it was something I wanted to do.
“Custom design is precision art in its purest form, because it’s not just about the jewellery. It’s about creating something truly honest which will evoke a feeling.”
Clients John has worked with in designing custom pieces hope to express a moment or acknowledge someone special. The collaboration is as much about a desire to create something deeply meaningful as it is about the jewellery.
“The part of custom designing rings I love most is getting to share people’s stories and interpret them into a design which will make my customer feel something. That’s what I consider to be good design. The process which enables you to work with someone’s story is founded on a genuine connection between the customer and the designer.”
John believes an important element of good design is acknowledging someone’s natural preference. In the same way people can feel an affinity for certain colours which may make them feel something, people also have a natural preference for shapes. John says it’s evident in the lines of the clothes someone wears, the patterns in the fabric – even the shape of their sunglasses and earrings.
“Some have a tendency to wear structured clothing with geometric shapes, while others might be drawn to softer curves and rounded patterns. That doesn’t mean you have to work within your natural preference when you’re creating a custom design ring, but it’s important to acknowledge what you’re naturally drawn to.” There aren’t too many individuals who can design beautiful forms to express the content of a feeling. John thinks the key lies in simply being true to your passion, because it’s something you can’t imitate.