Annick Mersch, who is a goldsmith, gave us a behind the scenes look at her work.
Photo: Maison Moderne
Annick Mersch shows her skills in making jewellery
Annick Mersch is a young jewellery maker and goldsmith who only works with fair trade gold. She has her own little space in the atelier of Pascale Seil, a glass blower who creates fantastic art and glassware.
They have been working together for 10 years, in the picturesque village of Berdorf, and the collaboration works well: “it is fun working with someone else, even if our areas are very different.”
Annick works a lot with semi-precious stones and precious stones. Most of her clients want something bespoke. For her, the personal relationships with clients are extremely important when making a bespoke piece. “The client never comes and says: I want a ring like that. We have a look through my catalogue, and then we change a few things; maybe make it more curved, more ornate, with a pearl or a different stone. Each piece is unique.”
Some clients also arrive with old jewellery. She uses the materials again and creates something new.
She adds: “It’s important to get on with the client. A piece of jewellery is something you wear on your skin. You need a certain instinct: is it more of a ‘round’ person, do they want organic or mathematical, abstract forms?”
Fair trade gold
She had to get a licence to be able to promote the fact that she uses fair trade gold. Her provider of trust is in constant contact with the mines. There are checks to guarantee that no minors work there, that as few chemicals as possible are used. The mines should only work with water to get the gold out. Annick has however pointed out that many mines are on top of mountains, where water is less often to be found. Her ideal would be that gold was extracted fairly and ecologically. For that, she is willing to pay more. She argues that it is the middlemen who make the profit, and that the miners get nothing. She has been using fair trade gold since 2014. The licence means she has to strictly separate the fair trade gold from the old gold she gets from clients.
Annick indicated that fair trade silver exists and that she works with that, but that there is as yet no official certification for silver.
There are as yet no fair-trade certificates for precious stones, explains Annick. She says it’s a question of trust with the providers. There are big firms, which often exploit local people (including children) for a dismal salary; others use robots which can cut hundreds of stones simulatenously. Her provider makes sure the stones are cut locally, and by small firms, so that local people can make some money. Most precious stones are cut in Europe--Annick sends her stones to Idar-Oberstein to be cut.
Making jewellery in Luxembourg
Annick learned her trade in Idar Oberstein, and moved back to Luxembourg. In the beginning, it was difficult. “It takes time for people to get to know you. I went to many markets, did exhibitions; it’s important you are there in person.” Her goal is not to become super rich; for her it’s important to work with her hands, to be creative.
She showed Delano how a goldsmith works; most of their tools have not changed much. See pictures of her work below.