Deep in the Heart of Herts is where the magic happens!

A glimpse behind the scenes at Alyssa Smith Jewellery! Come and see inside our world and our magical workshop of a place that we like to call Sparkle Towers! - By Alyssa Smith

Side car, Sidecar

And deep inside the heart of the countryside is where the magic happens on a daily basis!
The sparkly elves from Hertfordshires Best Retailer 2017; Alyssa Smith Jewellery practice their workshop skills all year round (elves are for life you see, not just for Christmas!)
 

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We spend our days and nights turning ideas, innovative concepts and customers popular requests (you all know who you are!) into hand drawn sketches consisting of good old fashioned pen or pencil, on paper! And yes, you did read the right- days AND nights! I have even been known to wake up in the night with an idea which simply cannot wait until morning to be written down- so I’ve ended up drawing basic concepts, ideas and stories onto whatever I have to hand at that time. The latest ‘ideas book’ was the side of my specsavers contact lens box as it was the only thing I had close by with a big enough surface area to take my random doodles! Even our Jade is now at it, and has even been known to get her ideas book out during a DATE (I know..a DATE!) and sketch something out before she forgets. Wonder if she saw him again… Chuckle chuckle!
 
So back to the elves (us). Once our designs are sketched properly (about a million times) and the concept is clear and precise, the little sparkly elves wave their magic wands and turn these hand drawn sketches and concepts into miniature, exquisite and collectable masterpieces in precious metals! If only it was as quick as waving a magic wand though- sometimes the development and prototyping stage for each piece can take months- I think the longest time frame our designs have been in development stage is around 11 months. The piece which took the longest to make was our incredible 3 dimensional helmet necklace- as seen on tv presenter Suzi Perry
 

Helmet

 
This piece was our VERY FIRST 3 dimensional design, and getting it just right (wearable, affordable, durable, looking just SO!) took ages! Other designs which have taken extra long to design and prototype was our first origami piece, the incredible crane- as scaling down something normally made in paper, with such a complexity of folds, and making it in sterling silver was really hard- but worth it! Our spinning tyre and motorbike took ages too. The detail inside the wheel on both of these items was incredibly hard to master, but we’re so pleased to say that all of these items are our best sellers, so the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ certainly applies to our designs too!
So if you’ve ever wondered how our ideas are born, nurtured and then turned into our beloved ‘borrower’ sized pieces, then pull up a chair, make yourself a nice brew, and feast your eyes on these awesome photos from behind the scenes at #teamalyssa’s amazing workshop!
The first time we ever shared these ‘behind the scenes’ photoboards was in a newsletter to our club Alyssa members in May 2017, but as time has gone on, we thought it would be lovely to write a blog so those of you who missed the newsletter could also see a little bit of the behind the scenes action!
Now, whether you’re into your Motorsports, like many of our customers- or you’re not into your Motorsports (also like many of our customers!) … there is no doubt about it that you will enjoy seeing the design process, and how our designs come to life. We’re going to share with you the design process for one of our popular motorsports themed pieces- the sidecar!
 
This same process is present throughout all of our designs, and we hope this blog post will give you a small insight into our jewellery, what we get up to every week (when we’re not drinking coffee, being silly and eating the sweets that were supposed to go in all of your packages!) Hopefully after you’ve read this, it will even also add a new dimension to your love for your favourite little jewellery company!



First things first. The concept! Without a concept or an idea, you of course have no product!

Our initial inspiration has always, and will always come from our wonderful customers and their requests and suggestions....which is then translated into pen on paper as rough designs.  This is of course after extensive research into each subject matter, legalities, whether it would work or not, whether it’s already ‘been done’, and even perhaps if the idea is past its sell by date! (to put it bluntly!)! At this stage, we will also decide how big (or should we say, SMALL!) our new creation should be! This is super duper important, because if something is made too big, it becomes clunky, clumsy, unwearable and potentially very expensive. If it’s too small, we risk losing important detail to the intricate design, and sometimes the detail is too important to be missed!  


 
Look and look again! Revisions of the designs are always important, allowing us to make changes and make sure we get things spot on before we proceed to the next stage. In case you didn’t know, Alyssa is a perfectionist and nothing passes by her without every millimetre being inspected, but when you're working in such miniature form...you have to be a perfectionist!

 

It is also important to note that designs are ALWAYS produced with the accompaniment of snacks, and also usually wine! We really don’t have a set place or routine to come up with our new designs, but involving food always makes things way more fun- and after reading a recent news article, apparently a few glasses of wine ‘loosens you up’ creatively, so it’s no surprise most of our excellent brain waves and designs involve wine. Now, whoever wrote that article is probably trying to kid themselves that wine is good for you, but in this instance, we definitely agree!


 
Next steps- After design is decided upon, sizes are worked out and we are generally happy bunnies with a new design, the long and painful process of computer aided design takes up a lot of time during the design stage of our jewellery. It's important we get every angle of our new design correct.

When the piece is a 3d engineered item, the final thing won't look perfect unless it’s perfect from every single angle.... So at this stage, we will move areas of the design, around slightly, or change an angle of something- sometimes even by less than a millimetre… even if it's just by a fraction, it still needs to be perfect!!
In this image you can see how the space between the wheels has been moved a FEW millimetres closer together... this is just one of the changes we will make at this stage before progressing with the design any further!
 
Once Alyssa is happy with every last detail of the computer generated design images, from every single angle... and has looked at it, compared it with sketches and other important bits & bobs.... the design is taken to the next stage!!

How to make it wearable! This may sound straight forward, but there is a lot to thin about at this stage! …Where will it suspend from!? …Where will an earring back be soldered on… How will it hang to make it look the best it possibly can? …If it’s a charm, we need to make sure it’s suspended in a way that the dangling bits won’t catch on things too! This stage is where the finer details are applied before translating it into a metal 'master'.

Of course, how exactly that is done will remain in our Secrets Box, at the top of our Top Secret Shelf, which is locked with a Top Secret key!


 
What’s next!? Do we just twiddle our thumbs and wait!?
Hehe, NO! Now the master has been made- we will use this to create the jewellery from... but in solid sterling silver! We make our jewellery in small batches, so you will often see things sell out, or items on ‘pre order’, where you can order something and wait to have it delivered when the next batch is finished… Once the jewellery is finished being made, it has to have a final polish, pass through our quality control, and let’s not forget that lots of our pieces are also hallmarked too.



We take such pride in absolutely everything we make, right from the concept stage, to the actual manufacture, and even packaging the jewellery up when it leaves our workshop is important to us! All of our jewellery collections have their own packaging and mini information cards… and let’s not forget the sparkling extras we pop into your parcels and yummy sweets!
We hope you have loved seeing the designs come to life, and if you own our jewellery already.... you will have another bit of the story to add to your piece...now you know exactly how it's made! YAY! If you’re yet to own some of our jewellery, then hopefully this will be something you can look forward to in the future! Each piece of ASJ is made, and packaged with love and sparkles!!

Title- Behind the Scenes at Alyssa Smith Jewellery
Publisher- Alyssa Smith
Editor- Alyssa Smith
Date- 14/09/17