Julian Bartrom never forgot the moment he was awarded a beautiful gold chain for academic achievement at Michael Park School in Auckland.
“I still wear the chain today. It meant a lot to be given something with value - and I knew then what I was going to do,” says Julian.
He was 17 years at the time and now – 11 years later – he is getting great pleasure out of making beautiful custom-made jewellery for his clients from around the world.
He started his Julian Bartrom fine jewellery design and goldsmithing business from his studio in Ellerslie in 2009. Highly qualified, Julian first worked for a group of Auckland retail jewellers on contract, making rings and other jewellery to order.
But Julian got more satisfaction sitting down with clients and helping them decide on the design, look and feel of their precious piece of jewellery.
"I might sit with clients for an hour and draw 3D designs in front of them,” he says. “When they arrive they have vague ideas about what they want, and they walk out all smiles saying: `I know what I want now’.
“The key for me is to involve the clients and see their delight - I find it very rewarding.”
Julian no longer contracts to a retailer. He has established a big enough reputation and profile to work directly with clients and make one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces. He concentrates on the quality, high-end market.
Julian has a mailing list of 600 clients – half of them live overseas – and he makes up to 50 pieces of jewellery in a year.
“People are looking for something that is not off the shelf and made with a cookie cutter,” he says.
“I meet with clients from all parts of the world, all with a common interest – an appreciation for unique, beautifully made pieces of jewellery. Many clients are looking for their special engagement or anniversary ring.’’
Julian’s work and skills are of international standard, and with the assistance of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) he has got his name out there. He worked with ATEED’s business advisor south, Neville Collett, to develop marketing and promotional plans.
Julian has used online marketing and promotion to increase his profile and business. He has a Facebook page and posts news updates which direct people to his stylish website. He also demonstrates his handiwork at the Bride and Groom and Grand Wedding Shows in Auckland.
When Julian first met Neville (Collett) he talked about his business ambitions. Neville replied: “You’ve got everything sorted; we just need to get you out there.”
Julian says ATEED’s expert advice pointed him in the right direction and this was invaluable. “It made it possible for me to gather the information and develop a strategy to do a rebrand, build a new website, develop new collateral and design a new booth for the wedding shows.”
Julian completed the rebranding with the support of two New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) capability vouchers, organised by ATEED. He worked with a creative director and consultant, and will soon be taking up a third voucher to further develop his advertising campaign.
After he left school, Julian began working at an Auckland jewellery production company. He learned a lot but he wanted “to make a ring from scratch rather than being part of an assembly line.”
He completed his Advanced Diploma in Goldsmithing and Jewellery with honours at the Peter Minturn Goldsmith School and then gained the Diploma in Gemology through correspondence with the Gemological Institute of America. During the course Julian had to correctly identify up to 500 gemstones.
He was the People’s Choice winner in the New Zealand Jewellery Design competition in 2011 with his entry – a dragon fly brooch mounted on a gold spring which trembled for up to five minutes (pictured). With a wingspan of 7cms, the brooch contained 100 sparkling diamonds and 64 coloured stones.
Julian sources his gemstones locally and abroad, with the bigger diamonds coming from New York and colour stones from Germany and Thailand.
“My training has given me a good advantage in sourcing unique gemstones. There are so many complicated things about gemstones that you need to know about – whether they have been treated and fracture filled and whether they are synthetics.
“I’ve gone through all the hoops and for the past few years I’ve had the privilege to work with rare gemstones and creating jewellery that is equal to some of the finest pieces made internationally,” he says.