2024.01.04 Jewellery Column

Concierges Undergo Artisan Skills Training

Ith's atelier is close to the workshop

ith started with Ayu Takahashi, the female craftsman and founder, working alone in a small room that served as both a workshop and reception area at the current Kichijoji atelier in Japan, handling both ring production and customer service.

Today, our "concierges" serve customers at ten ateliers across Japan, while craftsmen and office staff create rings in the workshop and office above the Kichijoji atelier, creating each ring in accordance with the customer's order.

The "concierge" plays an important role as a bridge between the customer's request and the workshop, in addition to being in contact with the customer. For ith, craftsmanship is an important identity and that will not change even if the scale of the company changes.


Feeling the passion for "craftmanship" through actual production

Since it is the craftsmen who create the rings, the concierges do not actually make the rings. But at ith, we provide time for practical skills training for the concierges as well.

An active craftsman at the Kichijoji workshop gives a lecture on the process of making ith collection rings, and then actually makes the rings.

We spoke with four of the participants in the training session, Fukushima (head of the Omiya Atelier), Itabashi (Kashiwa Atelier), and Ogawa (Kichijoji Atelier) about their experience in the training. As a side note, Itabashi was originally an ith customer who came to work at ith after ordering a wedding ring

- What kind of work process did you learn this time?

Polishing of flat rings and surface processing of various textures.


They were taught a total of five types: smooth mirror finish, Roccia, Mese, Tsuchime Aki and Stardust.


- Is it difficult to actually make a ring?

Ogawa: I found all of them difficult, but especially polishing the inside of the ring to a smooth surface was very difficult!

Fukushima: I have experience on the production side, but it was very difficult to create a homogeneous pattern by hand on a curved surface with an arc, even if it were a flat surface. However, when the polishing process of the ring gradually brought out the luster, I got absorbed in the work and enjoyed it, remembering the feeling of being a student making things.

- The work itself seemed enjoyable, and you were concentrating on it.

Itabashi: The hammered pattern was enjoyable as the hammering work was done rhythmically. However, determining the location and intensity of making the pattern was challenging, and the finished pattern ended up different from the original Tsuchime Aki. Indeed, creating a beautiful pattern requires repeating the same process consistently. When I try it myself, I realize how challenging it is.

- The craftsmen's work seems to proceed smoothly and easily, but when you try it, it doesn't go as you expect it to.

- Is there any other process you would like to try other than what you were taught?

Itabashi: Engraving and gemstone setting.

Ogawa: I would also like to do stone setting!

- It sounds like a difficult task, but you two seem to be very interested in it.

Fukushima: I would like to experience the whole surface texturing process, but I would like to continue practicing until I can finish the polishing process beautifully.

- People tend to think of mirror finishing as "doing nothing", but in fact it is an elaborate process.

- Did you feel anything when you produced it yourself?

Itabashi: I became extremely attached to the rings I made. Even when compared to other members, I think the result is quite clumsy, but still, I feel the value and satisfaction of having processed it with my own hands as a unique piece!

- I'm sure that all ith rings are one-of-a-kind, made-to-order pieces.

Fukushima: I feel the same way. At the same time, the craftsman may feel a sense of loneliness in delivering the completed ring to customers whom they haven't met directly. If they receive messages from customers, I want to convey them more thoroughly.

Ogawa:Experiencing the actual work makes craftsmanship much more accessible.

- More than the technical aspect, it seems to deepen my familiarity with rings in terms of feelings.

- How do you think the hands-on experience you gained will be useful in your regular customer interactions?

All of them: Yes, I can!

Ogawa: If I experience it for myself, I will be able to talk about design and production in your own words with a sense of reality.

Fukushima: When explaining about design and processes, I can talk about it with passion, not from my imagination, but from actual experience, which makes it easier for me to actively introduce it to my customers!

- When customers ask you questions, you will be able to respond with more confidence.

Itabashi:For example, the mirror finish is plain, but it takes time to make it smooth until the face is reflected on it. I realized once again that all the work takes a lot of time and effort.

Some of our customers want to change the design somehow, saying, "It's custom-made, so do something different." However, I reaffirmed that even if the design is basic, the ring ordered is still a one-of-a-kind piece made just for that customer.

I would like to carefully communicate with customers so that they can understand the essential "special feeling of custom-made" and its charm.

- Indeed, you serve as a bridge between the workshop and the customers.

- As a concierge, how do you perceive the work of craftsmen?

Ogawa:They are professionals who create rings for customers with dedication and pride.

Itabashi: Despite tight deadlines and time constraints, they are a group of skilled professionals who have an exceptional commitment and passion for the rings.

Fukushima: Ith's craftsmen give an impression of being closer to customers than other jewellery craftsmen. Even if they don't meet, they get to know about the customers who become the owners of each ring.  I find it cool to feel the fine handiwork, and I envy the fact that they are engaged in craftsmanship every day.

- It shows a close collaboration where the existence of each other is necessary to deliver the ring to the customer for the first time.

- Thank you very much. Lastly, I would like to ask all of you who have taken the time to comment to freely share your thoughts and feelings!

Kashiwa Atelier: Itabashi
Next door to the Kashiwa Atelier is St. Margaret's Cathedral. When the weekend comes, wedding bells ring throughout the atelier. We are located in a peaceful location a short distance from the city center, surrounded by lush greenery that we carefully nurture, and we will do our best to help you choose the right ring for you.


Kichijoji Atelier: Ogawa
The Kichijoji Atelier has a workshop above, so you can be close to the craftsmen and feel the sound of ring making, such as striking metal. When you visit the atelier, you can also experience the mood of the craftsmanship!


Head, Omiya Atelier: Fukushima
As the Omiya Atelier, we would like to be actively involved with the people involved in ring production! We have many opportunities to hear customers say, "Please give my regards to the craftsmen!" and I have the pleasure of being recognized for my role as a bridge between the workshop and the customer.

I will make sure to convey episodes in the atelier and customer feedback to those on the production side!

- Thank you all for your long hours of training!

- After the interview

The work of ith's concierges generally involves customer service and sales duties. However, when asked about their motivations, many of them have backgrounds from jewellery schools or decided to switch careers due to a combination of dissatisfaction with sales experience and a growing interest in craftsmanship.

The stories of those who participated in the practical training also conveyed their pride and commitment to delivering "one-of-a-kind" pieces that are special to customers, based on their respect for craftsmanship.


When you talk with the concierges of ith, please be sure to ask them about the process of making the rings and the particulars of the design. You will surely come across interesting episodes that will make you become even more attached to the ring you have chosen!


Concierges Undergo Artisan Skills Training