World of WarCrafts: One look at your World of Warcraft pieces, John, tells us that you're no amateur. How did you get into making jewelry professionally?
John Love: Hmm, a long story, which I will try to summarise. I grew up in Scotland and all through school and college had been interested in science subjects, so when I left college, the first job I had was as a trainee industrial chemist with the British Steel Corporation. Unfortunately, the reality didn't match my ideals, and I was so bored that when a couple of friends said they were going to head off to take a sabbatical and travel the world, I jumped at the chance. So we all chipped in and bought an old Land Rover and headed off on our epic journey. First destination: London.
When we arrived in London, it was February and wet, cold and miserable. When we saw an advertisement for a special offer on the ferry to Jersey, a small holiday island 12 miles off the coast of France, we thought that would be a better stopping-off place for the first part of our adventure. We bought the tickets and drove down to Portsmouth on the south coast of England to catch the ferry.
We had such a good time in our first few weeks there that we decided we would stay longer -- but with funds running low, that required getting jobs. I saw an advert for a summer job in a jewellers' shop as a sales assistant, applied for that and was successful. My friends got various other jobs, one as a car mechanic, another in the building industry. The summer in Jersey was really warm, and we had such a great time going to clubs and sunning ourselves on the beaches that the long and short of it is, we all stayed. That was the start and end of our world tour.
During my time in the jewelry business, I trained specifically as a gemologist, became a Fellow of the Gemological Association in the UK and ended up as one of the main buyers for the company.
So you're still living on your idyllic summer isle?
I live in Jersey in the Channel Islands. They are a small group of islands which are part of the UK but are only a few miles from the French coast. They are really beautiful, and what I like about them in particular is the two distinct seasons. In the summer, the island is full of tourists and all hustle and bustle and (hopefully) warm, but in the winter, it's quiet, the beaches are empty and it's lovely walking along them with my children's dogs.
The Channel Islands are also the only part of the UK that was occupied by Germany during the second World War, so there are lots of fortifications all around the coastline that were built by the Germans. It's quite a fascinating part of the island's history. It's great being able to pop over to France for a bit of lunch then be back home in time for dinner.
We understand that your family members also play WoW?
I am divorced with three grown-up children, all of whom live in Jersey. My son and youngest daughter and her partner all play WoW on a fairly regular basis -- but having a social life, not as much as their dad. I also have a younger brother who lives near Manchester who is an avid WoW player. All of them were introduced to WoW by me. As all of the above don't live together, I find WoW a great way to keep in touch socially and feel closer to my family and friends when they're online. It's better than a phone call, especially with BlizzChat or Vent.
I met my existing partner through playing WoW. We became friends online through questing, etc., and then decided to meet up in real life. It's all been great since then. She has two sons, both of who play WoW. She is also a fantastic artist and is the one who produces the scale drawings for the jewelry pieces. Hopefully, I can convince her to produce some Blizz art pieces that I can then put on the web site for people to see her work.
Alright, then – to the jewelry. Walk us through the process, if you would, of creating a piece from concept to finished product.
The first step is deciding on the item. So far, I have done that based on key points in my WoW life, such as first character to 60, etc. Once the piece has been chosen, I then look to get a screenshot or photo of the item. That is then sent to the design artist -- in this case, my partner -- who produces a drawing to scale with the level of detail that is required for the manufacturer.
I send this drawing to the manufacturer and usually then go through a series of questions and answers as to the detail on each part of the item, the required finish, the weight and dimensions, etc., etc., until we come up with a final design drawing.
The manufacturer then produces a master mould of the item, which I own, and produces a sample which is sent to me for my approval. Initially, the items were made for my personal use, (so) the one-off sample was all I had made (and) the process has been quite costly. But if the quantity produced increases, then the cost of the mould can be spread across these, therefore reducing the cost per item, if that makes sense.
So is your work currently limited to custom-order pieces? Do you have plans to mass produce any of your designs?
At the moment, I have had a quantity of the five pieces featured on my blog made up with a view to seeing how much interest there is. If the interest is good, then I would look to initially expand the range to include all the WoW racial crests and a wider range of weapons (such as the legendary and epic weapons), then take it from there.
Also, being a gemologist, I would be really keen to do some gem-set pieces where appropriate, but it all depends on the interest that is generated. I suppose the answer is to watch this space.
What is the price range on your current selection?
The cost varies a lot, as it depends on the detail required in the design. The more detail, the more time required to produce a satisfactory master mould. So far, that cost has been spread across only a relatively small number of items, so I am hoping if interest is good and I have larger quantities produced, I will be able to keep costs lower.
Then there is the size and weight of the piece. As each piece is produced in solid .925 silver, the heavier the piece, the more costly it is.
At the moment I have two sizes of pendants available. The smaller ones will cost £25.00 and the larger £49.50. These costs include all postage and packaging to anywhere in the world. These items are not stampings or base metal; they are solid silver and (I think) attractive pieces of jewelry in their own right.
Which piece are you most proud of?
I'm most proud I think of the Human crest, simply because it was the first piece I had made up and it marked my first ever character to level 60 (the level cap at that time). That was my Human Paladin, and when it arrived, I thought it looked absolutely awesome.
I wear it on a 4mm leather cord. For variation, I am looking to get it made up into a belt buckle or a bracelet in the near future, which is another avenue I would want to explore if interest is good ... Maybe rings and earrings, too -- although the earrings, not for me. :)
We'd take those earrings any day of the week. Check out Love's full range of designs at World of Warcraft Gifts.
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