“DBC was formed in 2012 specifically to provide a one stop place for castings for the fine jewellery market”, says Andrew Marshall, production manager at jewellery manufacturer DBC London, “Our identity is to be the future of precious metal casting with the ability to provide a complete service from design through to casting and production.”
Marshall says DBC offers “consistent, high-quality” casting to both individual jewellers, designers, workshops, retailers and large companies. The company understands that the jewellery industry has always been “time led”, and how everyone is working to a deadline. However, he goes on to say this has changed due to “ever shortening deadlines”; a result of consumers expectations for everything to be available instantaneously fuelled by the internet and modern life.
“We do everything to deliver their goods quickly and efficiently – our normal service is two days, but we also offer a next day and same day service,” he says, “and we cast in platinum and gold every day of the week except Monday.” The company offers a CAD service, which is led by Mo Ebrahim, an accomplished bench jeweller who progressed into CAD. Marshall elaborates on how Ebrahim’s understanding of design and jewellery manufacture ensures that the integrity of the designs is “innovative, beautiful and achievable”.
This is done by allowing concepts of customers to be “uncompromised”, as well as delivering a faithful piece of design that is “sympathetic to the manufacturing process”. He adds he has also found more and more of the manufacturer’s clients are “relying” on bespoke commissioned pieces. “We love these as it allows the creative element to come to the fore. We work with a lot of new young designers developing the ideas that they have into the reality of a jewellery collection – sometimes only being involved in the design part of their project.”
However, he says that during the last seven years, “as with all start-up businesses”, plans and ideals were challenged with the “reality of what is presented to you rather than what you would like” – and he explains how the company had to go through the learning curve, “just like everyone else does”.
While Marshall “loves” working with new businesses and creative people, one of the challenges in the current market he believes is many of them are working in predominantly silver or base metal – whereas DBC’s focus is in precious metal casting mainly in platinum and 18ct gold. “We do cast in all fineness of metals and palladium but never in base metal and only for existing clients in silver as a courtesy. This creates a challenge in that our client base for casting is reduced but many of these are at the cutting edge of innovative design which makes working with them exciting.”
Mulling over the current state of the jewellery industry, he feels it is “at a crossroads”, and while there is always a desire for quality and value, Marshall says there has been a “fundamental shift” in expectation from consumers for ever reducing cost. This has been exacerbated by online shops that can give the consumer a very similar price as a diamond dealer would have done to a trade client years ago. He believes this removal of the “middle” people creates “huge challenges” for the industry, and he stresses that if other industries were in this position, “much of what we know as manufacturing/retail would collapse”.
“Imagine the consumer being able to buy a modern car for 10% above cost and only pay a little bit more for the extras like upholstery or a stereo,” he explains, “I believe there will be more and more of a shift from the traditional structure of – producer, manufacturer, retailer or consumer to a more direct – manufacture to consumer market.”
The company recently upgraded its 3D printers by investing in an advanced commercial 3D printer, and now it is now able to offer much quicker printing times in real wax. This jump in 3D printing technology allowed for rapid prototyping to “now actually be rapid” (almost 500% faster than previous), as well as offering a printing resolution that is much finer that previous jewellery prototyping solutions. Marshall says this enables DBC to turn around its client’s jobs “much faster and to a much higher standard”.
It also has resin printing facilities, allowing the manufacturer to quickly print prototypes for customers to see visual proportions, and take away to wear for a little while. He says that whilst it isn’t “indestructible”, it provides a really good platform for understanding the relationship with the body a piece may provide. He says the customer may come back and discuss any changes or amendments to design as a result.
“We feel in introducing the customer to the process so intrinsically we can deliver a product that is truly the customers own. This process also allows us to quickly check mechanical functions of pieces: how a large clasp might behave or how a part may be retrofitted to an existing piece. We recently created some precious metal components for one of Britain’s most prestigious luxury cars and this process was key to that success.”
Additionally, being based just on the periphery of Hatton Garden in the Goldsmith’s Centre allows the company to provide some of its clients with a “personal service”. “If possible, we offer a drop off and pick up, and at the same time, we are surrounded by creative people from the jewellery industry which in itself fuels a certain amount of desire to be innovative and forward thinking,” says Marshall, “Our workshop is modern with state-of-the-art equipment and we always welcome clients to visit us personally as there can be no better substitute for face-to-face interaction when dealing with customers.”
Marshall says going forward he hopes to continually increase the company’s customer base, whilst still maintaining the level of service and quality of casting to our customers. “As the world is becoming more and more driven by online e-commerce we are in the development of a one stop solution for the costing of your piece,” he explains, “We are also expanding our CAD department allowing us to deliver a service that is increasingly more in demand with high levels of efficiently and to a very high standard for the public and trade alike.”