To be a Jeweler in Nigeria or not to be a Jeweler : Part 2 (Evolution) by Ibironke Oduniyi


[dropcap custom_class=”normal”] The journey to becoming a Jeweler in Nigeria continued. Going to Central Saints Martins College of Arts still remains top Ten one of the best things that has ever happened to me because my real journey into goldsmithing started from there. I got introduced to different techniques that I was clueless about and this was a different ball game entirely. [/dropcap]

Came back home feeling like a pro, pretty much excited about this new chapter in my life I was about to begin but I still felt nervous most especially because I hadn’t gotten enough tools ( I just got a few basic hand tools) and by this time I had finally realized how cumbersome the tools involved in goldsmithing were.

So I was getting worried thinking how I was going to have to tackle some certain techniques without all the necessary tools (at this point I wasn’t thinking small, I wanted to come out big with something out of this world, yeah right!) forgetting I needed to hone my skills first. I finally got introduced to a local goldsmith in Akerele, Surulere via my mum’s friend, main purpose to learn how create and improvise with a limited amount of tools and also to guide me on where to source tools from, spent 4 months with him before moving on to set up my own business.

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The first job I ever got was my sister’s engagement jewelry and her bridesmaids earrings commission, the engagement jewelry turned out well but OMG the bridesmaid’s earrings were a complete mess even though the bridesmaids were a great sport and kept saying it was nice (yeah right) deep down I knew they were only trying to make me feel better.

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Engagement Jewelry for my sister

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Bridesmaids’ earrings: Not quite finished yet but seriously not any better from here

I was beginning to question if I had the right capabilities to be a goldsmith, I kept feeling sorry for myself for days instead of working on my errors and practising.
In fact, I had started to question If I was sure I wanted to continue on this journey (imagine!!!! just one job oh I was ready to give up) and then I got a phone call from my sister again requesting to get in touch with a friend who needed a name necklace bearing his name for his girlfriend whom he intended proposing to with and dog tag bearing his girlfriends name on it which he wanted to wear.
I asked her if she was okay because I didn’t expect any referrals most especially after the last episode with her job and I wasn’t sure I was ready, she insisted I took the job but I was very nervous, I almost turned it down because I was so worried that I was going to mess the job.
To my surprise thank God I didn’t and that is how I started, goodness gracious I did a lot of name jewelry pieces throughout that year  and with every piece I made my skills improved, I almost wanted to focus on name jewelry of-course I was playing it safe.
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The first name jewelry job I did

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The dog tag customised jewelry for my customer’s girl friend with her name engraved on it

Also read: To Be A Jeweler in Nigeria Part 1
In the year 2011/2012, I got involved in quite a lot of exhibitions, it was at this exhibitions I started toying with the idea of training people, why you ask?
At every exhibition I ever participated in, people would come to my stand, compliment my work and then ask if by any chance I trained people, that question used to upset me a lot because I used to wonder if there was something wrong with my pieces, why weren’t they buying and all they were asking for was if  I trained.
It wasn’t until I complained to my sis who as usual saw an opportunity instead of the stumbling block I saw, said if people were asking if you trained why not train and as far as she was concerned for them to ask clearly meant they liked what they saw.
A few of the exhibitions I participated at;

Well I didn’t take up to her advice at first because I still did not have enough tools and honestly I wasn’t even ready to share my knowledge because it felt like gold treasure to me that had to be kept so I just continued trying to create more pieces and by this time I had started incorporating swarovski crystals to my  jewelry pieces and the pieces were a refreshing concept which moved for awhile.
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Part of my Handmade Swarovski Crystal Jewelry line

Then one day I stumbled on a tweet requesting interested people to drop their application for YOUWIN (Governmental grant in Nigeria), I didn’t take it seriously for awhile infact the submission date had been postponed when I started applying and I didn’t even click on the submit button until last minute of the final deadline.
Days went by and I had forgotten about my application (I wasn’t expecting to be picked actually) and I kept trying to figure out my next step, I knew I wanted to be a fine jeweler but I didn’t feel courageous enough to tackle the course because I was frightened beyond my mind, I was almost succumbing to my mom’s pressure to move back to Ibadan to take over her business; she runs a thriving lace fabric business in one of the biggest lace fabric market in Ibadan, it was either that or I take on training.
I finally  decided to test the training angle and I  registered my first student, she got so excited about it and according to her, she was enjoying my classes that the next thing I knew she brought another student with her, wow I thought this is actually happening and in actual fact I was also enjoying sharing my passion, and I was still promoting my new venture on Facebook.
I got an email from YOUWIN announcing that I have been picked to move on to the stage and also attend their boot cam, you needed to have seen me, I was so elated about this email and it couldn’t have come at any other better time, it gave me hope about my journey and strengthened my will to carry on as well.
To be continued…………………. Until next part,
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