Meet the maker - Wayne Ashton
Every piece of jewellery has its own story and conjures unique emotions in the wearer – which means it’s important to hand-craft special pieces for special events.
At Walker & Hall, the craftsman we rely on is jeweller Wayne Ashton who has the perfect eye and inspiration to work alongside gemologist Joe Tattersfield to turn your dreams into a sparkling reality.
If you want to turn the stones from a family heirloom into a more modern piece of jewellery; you need a piece of jewellery re-sized or mended; or if you’re looking for the perfect custom-made design to mark a special occasion, Wayne is the man to visit at Walker & Hall’s Anzac Avenue showroom.
Can you tell us a little of your background then Wayne - what first interested you in jewellery; where did you train; how long have you worked with Walker & Hall?
I’ve worked for Walker & Hall for eight years but I’ve been making jewellery for 32 years no. Originally, I completed a jewellery apprenticeship with manufacturing jewellery wholesaler Avery Wallace, who used to be in Kyber Pass. Apprenticeships are almost non-existent these days and they were very rare when I applied – there were only four apprenticeships in the whole of New Zealand at the time I applied. But I knew I wanted to become a jeweller from Form 4 when I must have been 14 or 15 and I met a friend’s uncle, who was a manufacturing jeweller, at a careers day and did work experience from school.
Can you outline the various types of work you do for Walker & Hall?
Jewellery repairs, remodelling old jewellery pieces, custom-made jewellery for customers and handmade jewellery for the Walker & Hall stores. The majority of my workload is custom-made jewellery for customers.
How closely do you work with customers - do they often come with designs or do you talk through choices with them?
I work very closely with customers, many of whom come to the Anzac Avenue showroom just to see me. Customers like talking directly with a jeweller so they can discuss exactly what they want and have any questions answered by the person who will be making their jewellery. The customer usually has some idea of what they want (for example, they need a matching wedding band or an emerald pendant) and then I will talk through their design/style options with them and give them my recommendations.
What are some of the more difficult custom jobs you have been asked to do?
Hardest part of any custom job is trying to take the jewellery which the customer has in their mind and make that into a reality. It’s a challenge to work out what exactly they want sometimes and I still get nervous when I hand over a finished piece because I’m always hoping it’s everything they wanted. One particularly difficult custom job was the remodelling of an intricate vintage ring. The customer wanted it restored to how it would have been when her grandmother was first given it. I restored and remade it to how the ring would have looked - but I ended up having to change it five or six times until it was how the customer imagined it should look.
Can you outline the way you and gemologist Joe Tattersfield work together to create new jewellery?
Usually Joe provides a stone/diamond and has an idea of what he wants and then it’s up to me to work through the technical side of things. Joe works closely with the stores so he knows what they need or what customers have been requesting and then he directs me what to make.
What inspiration do you draw on to create new jewellery?
I consider myself a traditionalist when it comes to jewellery. I like classic, timeless styles with clean lines/settings and enjoy working in yellow gold and with diamonds. My favourite things to make are diamond engagement rings (I must be a secret romantic, at heart!). The most unusual thing I’ve made is probably a tiara, which I made for my wife for our wedding day.
What type of person wears your jewellery?
Someone who likes classic, elegant jewellery. Because most of my work is custom-made, I usually have the customer’s individual style in mind when I’m making the piece.
What are the new trends you see coming into jewellery in New Zealand?
I’ve been working on a lot more yellow and rose gold pieces recently, so that’s really a trend back towards yellow and rose gold. But on the whole I don’t really focus on jewellery trends because I’m working closely with customers and I’m usually working towards their brief or vision.If you’re keen to talk to Wayne about a unique piece of jewellery, you can contact us or Live Chat via the website, call 0800 674 255 or call into our Anzac Avenue showroom in downtown Auckland.