It’s Cromwell’s only custom manufacturing jewellers, in the Heritage Precinct.
On a fabulous Friday, and dressed in Fancy Friday clothes, there’s an air of celebration for jeweller Nicole Scholfield.
Nicole is, in owner Les Ridell’s words, ‘celebrating the end of Nicole’s indentured servitude’, as she is now a certified manufacturing jeweller.
The qualification involves over 8,000 hours of one-to-one material, and intensive academic study.
Nicole says, “I’ve always been into the arts – that’s my thing.
I started coming in and bugging Les about six years ago, and just hung around until he offered me an apprenticeship!”
Les had another apprentice, Steel, training at the time, but when he finished training and moved to a jewellery position in Christchurch, Nicole was offered the apprenticeship.
That worked out well, because it took Nicole a while to gain enough self-belief to work in the creative industry, and by that time she had done quite a bit of training with Les, and was granted ‘prior knowledge’ in the apprenticeship.
Les is a Master Goldsmith, and the responsibilities with that involve teaching others. Before coming to New Zealand, he taught at a College in his native Canada, and has taught part-time in Christchurch’s Polytechnic.
Here in Cromwell, part of his business is running classes. Les likes it that way, saying,
“As fashions and trends change over the years, my students ask different questions. This helps keep me sharp and it keeps me current.”
Nicole says, “I wouldn’t have done the apprenticeship anywhere else.
This is an amazing place to work, Les is an amazing tutor and friend, and has been all that time.”
They introduced the Fancy Friday celebrations after the first Covid lockdown.
“We decided that everyone had lost their decorum, and this Casual Friday business had gone too far, with people getting used to pj’s and track suits,” Les explains.
They introduced a month of Fancy Fridays, with Covid Cocktails and discounts and prizes for customers who calls in on a Friday in formal dress.
The month has now stretched to two years, and they still post a formal photo on their Facebook page every Friday.
Les is likely to be wearing a wonderful kilt below a colourful waistcoat and jacket, and Nicole could be rock chick one week, and cocktail siren the next.
The cocktails have now changed to bubbles, though Les’s kilt attire demands his favourite tipple, whisky. It’s fun to do a weekly check on them.
Nicole’s parting comment is, “Our industry lacks people.” Food for thought perhaps?