Makers of bespoke gold and silver charms, Perfectcharm are a family run business in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter with a long history of jewellery making in the UK.
We chat to jewellery maker Georgina, founder of Perfectcharm, about growing up as part of a family of jewellers, who have been in the business for over 150 years.
Georgina, jewellery is in your blood having grown up helping out in the family workshops. Can you tell us a bit about your background in jewellery and your roots in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter?
As the daughter of a jeweller, I have been involved in making jewellery for as long as I can remember. Little fingers are good at jobs like threading beads, and Dad would watch TV putting gold loops onto beads and it was my job to thread the pearls or gems on the gold wire. In the school holidays there were lots of jobs to be done, it was generally hot and quite boring work but it has given me an understanding of the business which has been invaluable. One of my favourite jobs was assembling the charms. We had a great range of charms with many of them opening up to reveal a surprise, a cat in the piano, a flower in a watering can. It was my job to put the tiny rivet in the hinge. I didn’t know then the role these little silver and gold charms were going to play in my future.
What prompted you to launch your own business in 2004 focussing on charms?
I left school thinking I would never return to jewellery making, but having followed various careers and having my two children, I was looking for a job that would fit in with caring from them. I found myself looking back to my roots. I had always loved the charms my family made more than any other form of jewellery, they were so quirky. Charms had re-emerged back into fashion with Links of London bringing out their Sweetie bracelets and Thomas Sabo following suite. Charms were cool again. I launched Perfectcharm in the September of 2004 selling my family’s charms in silver and gold. Selling online I could work when my kids were at school. It has been perfect.
What was the inspiration to start making the fingerprint, foot and handprint jewellery?
I had never heard of this form of jewellery, it was completely different from the traditional ways I was familiar with. A customer wanted a chain to go with some fingerprint jewellery she had made elsewhere. This piqued my curiosity, I went on a course in Oxford and started making pieces for friends as soon as I returned. This was a way I could make jewellery from my little workshop, or converted laundry, at home. I bought a little kiln and have never looked back. I love making the handmade fingerprint, footprint and handprint jewellery for my customers, they are such personal pieces. My customers and their children are always thrilled by my work and that gives me a real buzz, especially when I bump into them at the supermarket with their special necklace around their necks. They often say their children won’t let them take them off!
My customers and their children are always thrilled by my work and that gives me a real buzz, especially when I bump into them at the supermarket with their special necklace around their necks.
Have you had any disasters with trying to obtain prints from babies and toddlers?
Not disasters but sometimes it is tricky. I try and visit local customers to ensure I get some really good prints. I do remember taking prints for a family of five children and after taking them all the youngest decided to poke her finger into each of them before they had set! Problems can occur with the mail order kits. I give clear instructions but sometimes I get some terrible prints back. I hate to say it is often the Dads that send the worst prints. I always send another kit with some extra clear instructions on how to avoid the same catastrophe. Credit to them for buying their wives something so personal though, many wouldn’t think of it.
Have you any ideas for the future in terms of personalised jewellery?
I am always full of ideas. This year I am going to be offering all my charms in rose gold. I am also going to be offering a service to add a precious stone of choice to almost all my charms. This will make each charm that little bit more personal and unique, whether the gemstone is a birthstone or just for a bit of extra bling. Charm bracelets are very personal pieces of jewellery, each charm has a meaning and I like to do give my customers the chance to make theirs that little bit more unique.
What’s great about being a jewellery maker in the UK and what challenges have you faced?
When I used to work in Birmingham Jewellery Quarter as a child there was lots of jewellery manufacture going on there. The air smelt of the polishes and the buildings would hum with the sound of the barrels spinning. Now the Quarter is a hub of trendy bars and apartments. There are lots of shops but most are selling jewellery made abroad. I am so proud of my family business established in 1865 literally passed down from father to son. My father and my brother work there now and as survivors they are in demand. The jewellery they make is much better quality than the competitors abroad and discerning customers realise this. The British Hallmark is a true sign of quality in a metal that other countries don’t have. The Anchor Hallmark which represents Birmingham gives a piece a provenance people recognise.
The British Hallmark is a true sign of quality in a metal that other countries don’t have.