Learning at work
When I finished my jewellery studies in London I decided to remain there a while. Also as I wanted to continue making jewellery I decided to look for a job in the trade to gain experience and fund myself. A preliminary offer made to me of part time work with a designer-maker did not fulfil my requirements. Fortunately, though, the second one did, and I was happy to accept, and start work with Albioncraft Jewellery manufacturing company owned by Paul Podolsky.
A decision I have never regretted.
Situated on the edge of Hatton Garden, close to Farringdon Tube Station, the company employed about a hundred people from diverse backgrounds- all skilled in various aspects of jewellery production. For instance the casting department was managed by Dubliner Billy Fitzsimons, and two Cork women worked assembling jewellery in the large jewellery workshop.
We were treated well and women were respected in this generally male dominated trade. The work environment was friendly, calm and professional. We had clean blue coats supplied to us on a weekly basis and had a tea lady. Cakes were bought for birthdays and a party was held at Christmas time
The premises overlooked a small city park and its balcony allowed staff get fresh air while on a break. The building had high ceilings and large windows which framed a nice view of trees and natural light to flood the workshops and offices. This and their layout made for comfort and efficiency for all staff.
Albioncraft produced high quality commercial jewellery. The designs were generic and typical of the 1970s. The processes involved in the jewellery production were design. modelmaking, casting, stamping, diamond milling, assembly, finishing and setting. And I was pleased to experience most of them.
Initially I worked in the casting dept., and was taught and experienced all its processes from waxing to final product by Dubliner Billy Fitzsimons. Diamond milling and die stamping were carried on close by too. Next I experienced polishing and these skills .
Most of my time was, however, spent in the large jewellery making workshop. Modelmaking, completely handmade, was carried on here as was the assembly and finishing of jewellery.
With my design background I was pleased to have the opportunity to do holiday relief in the design office and experience how this discipline was applied within a manufacturing jewellery scenario. I saw too how gem stones were sorted for setting into the jewellery.
I absorbed so much information here and the immersion in a professional manufacturing culture. It was the conversations too with a fascinating group of people, the patient and kind staff who answered all my questions.
Paul Podolsky, believed in employing jewellery school graduates. He silently mentored me too. A memory is of the wage increase he gave me along with my City and Guilds results, as he was an examiners. Clearly my worth to his business did not increase. In hindsight I understand his business values and was fortunate to experience them
Paul Podolsky was the son of Ukrainian parents who moved to the UK in 1915. His father, Eyna Podolsky, built up a successful fine jewellery business in Greville Street, Hatton Garden which Paul later took over. Due to the market conditions the business changed to the production of 9ct gold jewellery. It remained so until it ceased.
Paul Podolsky spent over seventy years in the jewellery trade, initially. He was a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths Company who have his archive . He also sponsored an award for young jewellers- now part of his legacy. .
And I got to live in London a little while longer.