Precious Metals with Debra Fallowfield

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

Family heirlooms are what keeps our family’s story alive – a tangible and highly sentimental connection to our heritage. Carlie Wacker meets a custom jeweller who is bringing beautiful memories to life in her bespoke reimaginations of precious jewels.

Somewhere in the middle of fine art and contemporary jewellery is an artist that has always been a step ahead of the game – I introduce you to the one and only Deb Fallowfield.

I once referred to her as a woman with her ring finger on the pulse of a jewellery revolution and I stand by that statement.

Deb is a designer that has always pushed back at traditional jewellery making and design. Her work doesn’t skimp on metals, it is solid, tactile and there’s an organic flow and movement through her designs that brings us back to connection with nature and nurture of family.

Our ancestry and memories are at the core of the rise of jewellery remodelling, and Deb has been creating special pieces upcycling, recycling and reusing heirlooms and sentimental items from our jewellery boxes for well over ten years.

The Deb Fallowfield collection is brought to life with the help of her husband Dean Brewster – a former builder who is perfectly geared for construction (of the jewellery kind now).

After many exhausting years rebuilding Christchurch after the tragic earthquake in 2011, he was well due a change of career and now is the master setter in this dynamic duo.

Between the two of them they work lovingly to create breathtaking pieces that allow the next generation to continue telling the stories that make us who we are.

Deb began remodelling for a close family friend a decade ago. Her mother had passed and she wanted to restore the rings for her wedding, but there were signs of wear and tear and the design wasn’t her style. After an emotional design process, Deb helped her friend create a ring that was the perfect fit to reflect her friend’s personality plus serve as a daily reminder of her dear mum.

Deb and Dean take great honour in being entrusted with the job of remodelling such special family heirlooms.

“We understand we are not just working with metals and the physicality of it all, so you really need to be emotionally intelligent,” Deb shares.

“These jewels have often been handed down through generations and sometimes the truth behind the value of the jewel can be exaggerated, so there has to be a delicate approach in these times, you need to tread carefully and communicate compassionately.”

There has been an exponential growth in the remodelling side of Deb’s business, and I can sense it is due to
that perceptive and delicate approach and understanding.

Deb says there have been times when they have recognised that a piece holds more value as an antique rather than remodelling it.

“I think Dean and I are equipped emotionally to deliver the best advice and experience of having a special piece remodelled,” adds Deb.

“In remodels, it can be common to be dealing with the maker, the designer and the gem setter and things can get lost in translation when you’re not connected and communicating directly with the person you have entrusted to work on your sentimental pieces.

“Our experience and skill sets means that you are dealing with us on the whole journey. We know we’re working with people’s emotions and memories so you need to have a solid connection with them.”

And it’s not necessarily easier or a less expensive option to remodel.

Deb tells me Old European-cut diamonds are particularly challenging to set.

“Dean has an extraordinary talent in thinking outside the box and finding ways to make a piece work,” she adds.

“It’s more about the sentimentality than cost – the thing about remodelling jewellery is that it’s like unpicking a couture designer dress then putting it all back together – it can take five to 10 times longer to undo and redo a piece of jewellery rather than starting from scratch.”

Deb Fallowfield continues to deliver custom bespoke remodelled jewellery designs to clients in New Zealand and Australia-wide.

We talk about the ‘taonga’ (a Maori word meaning treasured and close to your heart). When her clients look at her remodelled designs, she wants them to feel that fond connection to family.

As we move forward in a world that values quality, connection and sustainability, it can only mean that the art of remodelling will flourish.

It’s time to breathe new life into those old necklaces, solo diamond earrings and your grandmother’s engagement ring – let’s wear our heirlooms in a beautiful new way and add our very own chapter to the family story.

About the Author /

[email protected]

Carlie Wacker has worked in the media entertainment industry for over 20 years. From television to stage and radio she has been lucky enough to work her way around the whole country. Over the last 10 years she has styled and choreographed innovative fashion parades and talent shows and brings her love for fashion and entertainment as our Fashion Editor. She is also an MC, voice-over artist and radio announcer.

Post a Comment

Want more? Subscribe!

Get the latest news delivered fresh to your inbox!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Want to list your business?

Contact us to find out how! Contact us