ARTIST OF THE MONTH-POMME
ARTIST OF THE MONTHEvery month we introduce you to one of the Canadian artists we represent. There is no salt and pepper, we reveal the rawest story on our artists' creative journey. How they met and fell in love with jewellery? What inspired them and how? What was the making process like? What are the tips on being a successfully established jewellery artist? Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages to stay up to date on our latest collections. Go to INTERVIEW ARCHIVE to read more stories.
Artist of the Month (20): Margarite Pommer
March 31, 2021
Margarite Pommer is the newest artist to be added to our talented selection of Canadian makers here at 18Karat. We had the chance to speak with her about her life and career in the field of jewellery and her tale certainly won’t disappoint!
Q: What is your origin story? How did you first get involved in jewellery and what about the industry captured your interest?
Born in Vienna, Austria, Pommer has been surrounded with handmade objects all her life. Noting the chalices, robes, and cloaks she observed while attending school in the south of Austria, she believes them to be extensions of jewellery and adornment. Upon moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Pommer worked in various shops such as Young Designers – a studio focusing primarily on design in ceramics and glass, with David Rice – an independent jeweller, Birks – in the fashion jewellery department, and finally, with Ludwick Nickel – another independent jeweller. These experiences were an education in itself, and with this knowledge, Pommer moved to Toronto, Ontario and opened her own aptly named jewellery store, Margarite Pommer Jewellery in the Westin Prince Hotel, where she was in operation for 20 years!
Q: Looking back on your career - from the place you first began to where you find yourself now, what would you consider to be the greatest lesson that jewellery has taught you both as an entrepreneur and a designer?
Reflecting on her career in the jewellery industry, Pommer shares with us some of the greatest lessons that this field has brought to her life stating, “it is important to be selling something that you are proud of – to be honest, and to maintain integrity.” It is these qualities that she feels have fostered a successful career. In operating her own jewellery store, Pommer maintained an interest in the product by choosing to carry pieces she loved and were of “personal interest and appeal,” this she says, “made things more interesting and helped [me] to direct clients with confidence!”
Q: Does the work of other jewelers inspire you? What influences you or drives you to design in the way that you do?
As the owner of her own jewellery shop, Pommer created the opportunity to surround herself with pieces that she believed “had a timeless quality to them, pieces that could be worn forever.” Over the years, she crossed paths with makers of all kinds. She notes some of her greatest influences are Jean Dunand, a painter and enamellist, Ray Griffith of New York, a fellow jeweller utilizing a technique known as “crown work” which helps to reduce the weight of a piece, Finnish jeweller and sculptor Bjorn Weckstrom, and fellow Toronto jeweller, Lisa Ridout who specializes in handmade chain. In examining Pommer’s current collection of jewels, it is clear she had a great admiration for the work of her peers!
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom to share with aspiring entrepreneurs keen on establishing themselves within the jewellery industry?
When asked to share her words of wisdom to aspiring jewellers, Pommer’s response was short and simple, “be sure to love what you do and be passionate because it won’t be easy.” Truer words were never spoken! Along with most other worthwhile endeavours, establishing a career in jewellery won’t always be easy, but it will certainly be worth it.
Q: What would you consider to be one, if not more, of the greater highlights in working in the industry and materials that you do?
One of Pommers earliest memories in which jewellery took centre stage is when visiting her mother “she would share the contents of her jewellery box – impressed that she always remembered the ‘who, where, when, and why’ of each piece given to her. Jewellery has the ability to act as a diary and contains a history.” Over the past 20 years working in the industry, Pommer has acquired a long and varied list of “highlight” moments, the greatest being the “satisfaction of a client, loving their piece.” Pommer notes, “jewellery is often a gift – someone is giving with the intention to please.” The materials are an additional highlight, “gold and silver, precious materials, can be used over and over again,” she remarks that “the Earth creates plenty of lovely things, diamonds and other coloured gems,” are just a few!
Q: Would you say there is value in approaching the jewellery industry from a more entrepreneurial/marketing perspective versus one that is more rooted in an art practice? Do you feel there is a difference?
To establish a career in the arts – jewellery or otherwise, one must have an understanding of their craft and a sense of entrepreneurial finesse. Pommer remarks, “good entrepreneurial skills are an artform in itself,” she continues stating “there is value in marketing, no doubt, but my approach to jewellery is personally rooted in the arts.” As the consumer world has made a shift to online – amplified further due to COVID-19, Pommer believes the ideal circumstance to approaching the business of jewellery is such: “It would be best to have two individuals with specialties in the respective areas of art + design as well as marketing + entrepreneurialism working collaboratively!”
Q: When seeing a finished piece, what qualities about the work do you hope are most notable to your client/audience?
When finishing a project, for Pommer, there are three very important notable qualities that she hopes her clients feel when seeing the final piece, the “first is that the piece is what they wanted! Second, that the customer is happy, and finally that the piece is of quality so that the customer can enjoy the piece for a long time!” She continues stating, “it is important to listen to your clients, that way, you can feel confident that you will be able to create a piece that the client will treasure!” In over 20 years as the owner of Margarite Pommer Jewellery, Pommer has had only 3 returns – an impressive track record and a testament to her sharp listening skills!
Q: How do you best translate your ideas into something more concrete? Do you find that designs come more naturally to you through the rigors of sketching or are you someone who begins with a gemstone and the piece forms itself around it?
Pommer views all that surrounds her as “grist for the mill, looking to everything for inspiration whether it be leaves or fruit!” For her, design works in many ways stating that “sometimes the gemstones are calling out to you, I do a great deal of sketching - I’m desperate to make a pair of pomegranate earrings filled with garnets!” Pommer works closely alongside her trusted goldsmith and is sure to always heed their advice!
Thank you to Margarite Pommer, our artist of the month, for graciously answering our questions in relation to her practice, process, and various insights that jewellery has taught her over the years. Visit our gallery to explore her full collection.