Something old becomes something new every day at The Goldsmith in St. John’s, where the husband-and-wife team of Melvin and Stephanie Coombs design and create one-of-a-kind custom pieces that will last for generations.
Instead of inheriting jewelry from a family member and letting it collect dust because it’s not their style, customers are bringing these pieces to The Goldsmith to have them melted down by Melvin, and redesigned into something they can wear and enjoy — like a beautiful bangle or a brand-new ring.
Using sophisticated 3D technology, Stephanie is able to customize every aspect of a new piece of jewelry — fine-tuning even the tiniest details until they’re exactly right. She can even show customers a picture of the finished design before it goes to casting.
Melting down your own gold lowers the price of a new custom piece, but Stephanie says people love doing it for the sentimental value. She might also work with a customer to design a brand-new engagement ring for them on the computer, and then create the ring using the diamond from their grandmother’s engagement ring. Sometimes people even do this with their own engagement rings once they’re ready for a new look.
“Maybe you’ve been married 20 years and you’re still with your partner, but you want to redesign your ring. I did it myself,” chuckles Stephanie.
She says a well-designed custom piece of jewelry is built to last much longer than something straight out of a display case, and there’s even still time to have a custom piece of jewelry designed and fabricated in time for Christmas.
MEET THE GOLDSMITH HIMSELF
Melvin never imagined he’d become a jeweler, but he was one of the 35,000+ fishermen and fish plant workers who lost their jobs due to the collapse of the cod fisheries in 1992.
When he participated in the federal government’s retraining program — designed to help them find useful new careers — he was accepted to train as a jeweler in a local St. John’s jewelry store. Fortunately for him, he excelled in the program and the jewelry trade. After eight years with that same store, he moved on to work as head jeweler of two other major local jewelry stores in St. John’s. He opened his own store, The Goldsmith, in 2006.
“I like that it’s always something different — always a new challenge,” Melvin says.
When Melvin is meeting with customers to discuss a new design, the wheels are already turning in his head. He builds up a picture in his mind of exactly what the finished piece needs to look like — and then he begins the creation process.
One of Melvin’s most ingenious creations is a hinged ring for people with arthritis. He’s able to take someone’s existing ring, cut it in half and install a hinge that allows them to wear it more comfortably.
He is well known across Newfoundland and Labrador for being a whiz at jewelry repair — everything from simple ring sizings and chain repairs to claw work, stone setting and complete restorations. In fact, other jewelry stores will send their customers to The Goldsmith with a complicated job, insisting “If Melvin can’t fix it, it can’t be fixed.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRUST
The emphasis is on friendly, personalized service at The Goldsmith. Instead of dealing with different sales clerks each time you go in, you’re chatting directly with Stephanie or Melvin — and Stephanie says many of their clients enjoy that everything is done in-house and nothing gets sent away.
“Our customers tell us ‘I wouldn’t bring my jewelry anywhere else, because when someone is bringing in their precious jewels, they need to be leaving them with someone they trust,” says Stephanie.
Any pieces they carry that haven’t been custom-designed have been hand-selected by Stephanie and Melvin— and they will only bring in solid, quality pieces they know they can stand behind proudly. The shop carries gold pendants (including gold crosses and Celtic knots), a large selection of gold and silver chains, engagement rings and wedding bands, stainless steel STEELX jewelry, and hot deals for Christmas — like 50 per cent off watches and Nikki Lissoni pieces.
“You can never go wrong with gold,” says Stephanie. “It never loses its value, and it never goes out of style.”
In fact, the value of gold has increased since COVID began. Stephanie says more customers are hurrying in to buy heavy gold chains and gold pendants as gold continues to increase in value.
SAFE, PRIVATE HOLIDAY SHOPPING
Because of COVID-19, it’s now basically just Stephanie and Melvin running the shop. Customers are buzzed in to begin their shopping, and every piece of jewelry is sterilized with an LED device after handling. Plexi-glass screens surround the showcases completely.
With just 2-4 customers (no more than two bubbles) permitted in The Goldsmith at a time, Stephanie says it makes for a safe, intimate shopping experience far away from crazy crowds. If customers would prefer to have a private shopping appointment, they will absolutely accommodate them, too.
“Because we’re a small business, we can be flexible and accommodating for our customers,” explains Stephanie. “If a customer needs us to, we can stay open late for them or come in early for them.”
As she and Melvin gear up to support busy holiday shoppers, she hopes The Goldsmith has a strong finish to what’s been a difficult year.
“When you support local, you keep your hard-earned dollars right here in the local economy. It feels good,” says Stephanie. “We’ve had customers come in since COVID and say ‘I want to spend my money here and support local.’ People don’t want to see their local businesses shut down, and we really appreciate their support.”
The Goldsmith is located at 15 Rowan St. (Churchill Square) in St. John’s, and open for Christmas shopping Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 6 p.m. on Wednesdays). Visit www.thegoldsmith.ca to learn more or call (709) 368-4653 to discuss a custom jewelry order.