Innovative jeweller Barbara Gressl is celebrating her 55th anniversary this year – the perfect occasion to reflect on the value of craftsmanship and precious moments.
Interview by Hedi Grager
Values can be characteristics, beliefs, commodities and much more. What do they have to do with the word “value”?
Jeweller Barbara Gressl: In terms of my passion – my profession – I of course also link the word “value” with “valuable” in the sense of the rarity of materials such as gold. These kinds of resources are becoming ever-scarcer, and for this reason also increasingly more valuable, meaning it is all the more important to go about working with and managing this wonderful value in a more conscious and, crucially, sustainable manner.
For me, “value” also means embodying certain characteristics and behaviours in my day-to-day contact with customers.
Particularly valuable to me are loyalty, trust, transparency, sincerity and, most of all, the gift of being a good listener. On a more personal level, there’s also the value of love.
What’s your personal favourite item, and what makes it so valuable?
Jeweller Barbara Gressl: My personal favourite item is an old photo of my father at a workbench with his colleagues. He was a master watchmaker. It’s valuable because just one look at this photo, especially in difficult and challenging times, gives me the energy, courage and above all strength to continue pursuing my passion every day, in a way that is creative yet grounded in reality.
Craftsmanship has value – or has it just got its value back?
Barbara Gressl: Craftsmanship has and always has had value, it’s just that awareness of this value is sometimes diminished. But it always comes back through skilled, friendly and conscious education.
Do you also find that customers perceive the sentimental value of a piece of jewellery to be greater than the material value?
Barbara Gressl: Because what I offer primarily is handcrafted jewellery and I retain loyal customers over many years because of the wonderful way in which it is created, sentimental value is usually of equal importance. We listen. It’s all connected. And I’m lucky enough to work almost every day with cherished pieces that have already had many fabulous years of wear. I recently had the chance to create a simple gold ring from the wedding bands of the deceased parents of one of my customers. It’s now a daily companion that carries memories of her parents and symbolises their union and love. It’s so wonderful!
You have always prioritised individuality and quality. Is that benefiting you now?
Barbara Gressl: It has always been an advantage, because in my eyes, these values will ALWAYS prevail over fast-paced society, passing trends and brand hype.
How much progress have you made with your men’s collection?
It’s a slow and steady process of growth.
During our last conversation, you mentioned a small, very special collection. Has it been released yet?
We launched the “Lust auf Meer” (“Yearning for the Sea”) 2020 summer collection at the beginning of July. In collaboration with a small firm of precious stone cutters, small seahorses were cut by hand out of the most beautiful gemstones. The result is some delightful examples of master craftsmanship, and my customers love the summer accessories made out of pink morganite, blue aquamarine and a stunning large piece in rare, intensely blue Arizona turquoise combined with white brilliant-cut stones and tiny white pearls.
You’re celebrating your 55th anniversary this year. Are there more celebrations to come?
We’ll be with the visitors to our exhibition at Schloss Piber in November, and I’m sure there will be a glass (or several) raised to the anniversary then.
Jewellery Gressl online >>