Tamara Kronis is the founder of Studio1098, a small boutique featuring custom-designed vintage-inspired jewellery, with an Art Deco/Art Nouveau bent. “I’ve designed and made pieces influenced by my travels, design and architecture I love, geometry and nature,” says Kronis. “I like to play around with my designs so that there’s always something new going on in the studio”.
SDTC: What do you know now that you wish you had known before starting Studio1098?
TK: I wish I’d known that it would all work out when I opened a custom fine jewellery studio in Rosedale in the middle of a recession in 2010. Growing the studio has been a ton of fun, but there have also been some anxious moments where I wondered if it would all be worth it. I’m pleased to say that it has been!
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments to date?
There aren’t very many jobs for goldsmiths in Toronto, and a lot of people end up leaving the profession. I think my greatest accomplishment to date has been to create a business that is providing a career, not just for me, but also for four other goldsmiths.
What’s the biggest misconception about your line of work?
One of the biggest misconceptions in my industry is the idea that people are going to “get a deal” on their engagement ring if they buy a diamond over the Internet and “unbundle” it from the design. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and there have been industry-wide problems with the quality of the certificates that come with diamonds, so people often find that they don’t quite get exactly what they want when they buy online. For something as personal and taste-dependent as jewellery and diamonds, there’s really no substitute for sitting down with a professional goldsmith and gemmologist like me who can really walk you through your choices and show you the options that are going to get you the best value for your money and the best choice for your design ideas. It also makes way more sense to work with a budget for the whole ring and a jeweller who will respect it, than to try to navigate an industry you don’t know well on your own.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
The best piece of business advice I ever received was from one of the founding partners of the law firm I used to work at. He never tried to sell anything – he just listened to people, figured out what they really needed from what they were saying and said “I’d love to help you with that”. If you truly love helping people realize their dreams and meet their needs, you will always have a successful business.
What’s the best piece of personal advice you’ve received?
A friend I studied with said “Just because you’re good at something, it doesn’t mean it will make you happy”. I was very good at my previous career, but always wanted to be an artist, and so am so glad I made the leap to become a goldsmith.
What’s your favourite piece of jewellery?
This is the toughest question you’ve asked! I have a lot of favourites, so I’ll just tell you about one, which is my own engagement ring. When I started my goldsmithing career, my husband urged me to redesign the (boring) engagement ring he’d bought me before either of us knew anything about jewellery design. The process taught me a lot about what it’s like to go through my own design process with my partner for myself. It’s made me more sensitive to the anxieties my clients may have about the custom process, and it’s also made me a better designer overall. And, I’m glad to say that ten years later, I still love both my ring and my husband!
Can you give us a glimpse into your creative process?
When I’m feeling blocked, I look to my clients for inspiration, and ask them a lot of questions about what kind of feel they’re looking for from their jewellery so that I always have a few fundamental concepts to refer to when I’m drawing. Trying to visualize what those words will mean in jewellery form really helps when I can’t figure out what to try next. I also look to art. The AGO is one of my favourite places to just sit and think through a problem. I’ll go to whatever gallery matches the vibe I’m trying to get and just immerse myself in that kind of imagery.
You have a day off, OMG! Where do you shop? Grab a bite? Stroll? Relax?
Definitely relaxation is my priority when I get a rare day off. I love spending time with my family. My 7 year old son has a natural curiosity about the world that means we’re always learning about something new, and my nine year old daughter loves to paint. Often, she and I will just go to Paintlounge on College Street, set up a couple of canvasses and spend the afternoon together.
What do you love about life right now?
There isn’t much that I don’t love about life right now. I love that I get to spend my days helping my clients celebrate the happy occasions in their lives. They’re really wonderful people and it’s been a pleasure to get to know them these last ten years. I love my team in the studio and the professionalism and dedication that they bring to their jobs, and I love my family. I am grateful every day that we’re all healthy and in the words of my neighbour who just passed away after a long and loved life, I hope that the best of last year will be the worst of the year to come.