Family Jewels

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

Handcrafting beautiful jewellery for over three decades, McLean & Co Jewellers are harnessing the very latest design technology as well as keeping it all in the family, discovers Rebecca Jamieson Dwyer.

When jeweller Stuart McLean and his wife Angeline started their jewellery company back in the 1990s, they could never have imagined that more than 30 years later, they’d be working alongside their son Hayden in a thriving family business that’s created thousands of treasured pieces for other families and individuals along the way.

From their store and workshop in Kawana Shopping Centre, where they’ve been for the past 10 years, Stuart, Angeline, Hayden and their team of three jewellers create a stunning selection of classic, contemporary and bespoke pieces. Melding traditional jewellery-making skills with advanced CAD design and rendering technology, making the design process as fast and cohesive as possible, and giving their clients complete involvement over the outcome.

Whether it’s a bespoke item or something for their extensive in-store collection, the process of making each piece goes something like this: Stuart, a jeweller and gemologist (or occasionally Angeline, who’s also a qualified gemologist), will sketch out the design for an item of jewellery on paper, before passing it across to Hayden, an expert in CAD technology. Using a specialist program, Hayden then creates a model of the piece to the exact specifications, and then turns this into a high-quality render: a photo-realistic image or video of the design for the client (or Stuart) to approve.

From there, a cast is created and filled with the precious metal of choice, which is then passed onto the jeweller who crafts the piece in McLean & Co’s in-house workshop.

“I used to be on the bench creating everything, but I’m busy with design and sourcing, so these days we have three highly experienced and talented jewellers creating everything,” Stuart explains.

The advantage of this high-tech team approach is the flexibility it offers the client if they want to tweak the colour, shape or style of their design – meaning that the McLean & Co team can ensure every customer is absolutely delighted with their final piece, be it ring, bangle, necklace, earrings – or sets.

“Hayden’s expertise with CAD software means it’s not costly or time-consuming for us to make changes during the design process, unlike other jewellers who don’t have access to this in-house, or might not be using it at all,” Stuart says.

Passionate about gems, Stuart stocks a veritable rainbow of diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, opals, tourmalines, aquamarines and more in all shapes and sizes for customers to choose from; as well as having the experience and the contacts to be able to source special stones when requested.

This industry knowledge helps protect against potential costly mistakes.

“Sometimes I’ll have a customer bring me a piece of jewellery that just isn’t sitting quite right and we’ll discover that the gem hasn’t been cut properly,” he explains. “When the stone isn’t perfect, the item can never be perfect, which is why it pays to go through an expert when sourcing or choosing gems.”

At McLean & Co, customers will talk to a qualified jeweller or gemologist at every stage of their journey.

“We don’t employ salespeople,” Angeline explains. “Everyone the customer encounters, from the moment they enter our store, has extensive industry experience and is fully qualified to give the best advice.”

Between them, the team has over 120 years of experience – so you know you’re in safe hands.

It’s often said that three is the magic number, and for Stuart, Angeline and Hayden, that’s proven to be true, with their complementary range of skills helping the business grow and thrive.

“As well as serving customers and helping with repairs and design, I do all our marketing, digital and social media content creation,” says Angeline, who also teaches others how to grow their online engagement and is something of a leader in the digital space.

Although Stuart regularly works with all sorts of gems, his favourite stone is undoubtedly the diamond: a timeless classic that’s sparkled on hands throughout generations for good reason.

“I always come back to a really nice diamond – they’ve just got that magic quality,” he says.

All natural, earth-mined diamonds used in McLean & Co jewellery are precision cut and conflict free, with the more unusual diamonds sourced from Belgian cutting and polishing houses.

They might be a girl’s best friend, but for young people trying to get into the housing market or make their own way in the world, earth-mined diamonds are not always achievable cost-wise, which is why McLean & Co also stocks a range of lab-grown diamonds – offering that stunning signature sparkle without the same level of financial investment.

Sentimental at heart, Stuart loves creating milestone pieces for special occasions, such as the show-stopping three-carat yellow diamond ring he designed as a surprise for Angeline’s 50th birthday.

“Jewellery is important because it’s a permanent, beautiful reminder of those special and meaningful occasions in life,” he says. “If your item is high quality, you can enjoy that moment for a long, long time. We want our pieces to stand the test of time and provide continual enjoyment, and then be handed down through generations.”

Creating fine jewellery that’s been designed and crafted by their family for yours?

It’s fair to say the team at McLean & Co Jewellers are absolute gems.

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