Jewellery Time Magazine

One of four finalists in the fine jewellery section of the New Zealand Jewellery Design Awards2011, Nick won the prestigious top prize in 2009 with his reversible pendant after only a year in 

the industry.

“I was really lucky to end up winning, it was pretty special,” says Nick who works at The Village Goldsmith in Wellington. “My boss Ian Douglas just chucked me straight into it.”

Nick’s latest piece, a pendant titled 1886, was based around the Pink and White Terraces of Mount Tarawera and their recent discovery.

“I started drawing and then remembered at primary school we did some study in the area which I found quite interesting. I made it out of sterling silver, white gold, rose gold, titanium, sapphire, pink sapphire and diamond. I wanted to make it interesting from each angle.”

Enjoying woodwork and engineering at high school, Nick found while most of his classmates were interested in automotive mechanics, he had other things on his mind.

“I was the kid in the corner making my mum a brooch.  It was good as I got to work with a tutor at school who had experience in metal pouring.”

Nick had grown up working alongside his handyman carpenter father in Hawkes Bay before progressing into knife and sword making and then at the completion of high school, moving to Wellington.

“I moved to Wellington to study music but after getting my certificate, decided to do something else.  My family were really encouraging.”

Offered a two month trial by Ian at The Village Goldsmith, Nick was soon given an apprenticeship to get him on his way to becoming a qualified jeweler.

“I was given a trial so they could get an idea of what I was like.  I got through that and was then offered an apprenticeship and Ian organized my study through the Open Polytechnic.  Ian is really supportive and pays for all of my fees as well as the Jewellery Design Award entry fees for me and four other jewellers from work.”

“Because I’m in the workshop every day, my study is an overview of what I’m already doing.  It’s good to have a theoretical background, especially for people not doing applied jewellery manufacturing.”

With day-to-day tasks including general jewellery repairs, making custom-made jewellery and remodeling work, Nick says it is rare to have two days the same.

Custom made jewellery is huge: it’s a big part of what we do. Remodeling is also very popular.”

Working full time while studying, Nick says keeping an eye on deadlines helps him stay on top of things.

“I work better under pressure and I prefer to study all at once, rather than trickling through it.  My goals when I started were obviously to finish the qualification, but also to do well and aim for good marks and get a good amount of theoretical knowledge alongside my practical experience.”

In his final year of study, Nick says he is looking forward to being able to spend more time on his other interests: playing drums in a couple of bands and mountain biking.

“I finish my apprenticeship in July next year and I’ll stay working with The Village Goldsmith as they are really great to work for.”

“I recommend that if there is something you really want to do, just go for it.”

Click here to see more pieces designed by Jeweller Nick Hensman