Here the Phantom ring are created
Thomas Everlund is a classically trained goldsmith who also studied art history and literary history. In his collections, one can sense a craze for the aesthetics of the punk and fashion period, but also of the Phantom.
Text from newspaper article by Hasse Hedström published in Tid & Smycken
Thomas Everlund’s workshop and shop are located along the most frequented shopping street in Malmö. The pedestrian street Södra Förstadsgatan winds its way through town. To find Thomas Everlund’s shop, you have to pass through an archway to a small picturesque square with a cafe and outdoor seating on one side and Thomas’ shop and workshop in the brick house on the other side.
Like so many other goldsmiths, blacksmithing is in his DNA. Together with a partner, Thomas’ father ran a workshop and goldsmith’s shop in Lomma and in Staffanstorp.
– High school was awesome! I persuaded my father that I should drop out and start working in his workshop, says Thomas.
His father agreed and Thomas started as an apprentice.
– I was completely sold on the craft. To be able to create something in this way with the hands, Thomas remembers.
The training had both theoretical and practical elements. Thomas got the theory during repeated trips to the goldsmith’s school in Copenhagen and he learned the craft in his father’s workshop.
After his education, he worked at various goldsmiths, including in Copenhagen and Stockholm. But then he felt that he should study further, do something other than sit at the bench.
– I was thinking of becoming a teacher. Moved to Umeå and started studying literature, because I thought I could go skiing there at the same time.
After two semesters, he continued on the teaching track, set on becoming a Swedish teacher.
– It was a disaster! Suddenly I would study grammar, learn the dative case and take out parts of sentences all day long. It was so sad! So I went to Copenhagen to work as a goldsmith.
That was the end of his short Swedish teaching career. Instead, he increasingly developed his artistic talent and his interest in design and began to create his own collections in addition to making rings as a goldsmith to customer orders and traditional goldsmith work.
– I mostly work in silver. Partly because collections in silver are easier to sell, but also because silver allows me to experiment more. It is a material that you can play with.
Today, the collections account for around half of the company’s turnover. He likes to create collections that reach out to so many more than the unique pieces of jewelry that he makes together with his customers.
He uses a foundry in Småland. Maybe it would be cheaper abroad. But if you care about quality and want good contact with your foundry, it is an advantage to have the foundry at home. Bad castings do not primarily affect the foundry but the person responsible for the collection.
– I actually tried it once, but it didn’t go well. If you don’t care too much about your name, it might work. If you are only focused on selling and on customers who, due to a lower price, buy once – but who are then unlikely to return, then it might work.
But marketing is a branch that he does not think he has mastered. In addition to his own store, his collections can be found at an arts and crafts collective in Malmö and in a couple of other stores in Skåne. But his collections are mainly sold through the company’s online store. But social media is not his best branch.
– I am a reluctant Instagrammer. But sales are based on that. Many customers come that way, notes Thomas.
As we speak, a customer comes in with a large silver Viking ship with some shields falling off.
– I can’t promise that I’ll fix them, but I’ll test, Thomas promises, and tells me what it might cost.
– I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works, says the relieved customer, before leaving the store.
We keep talking about him not being very comfortable with marketing his company and products. That it is difficult to reach out. It takes time to feed your Instagram account with updates and photos. After all, he is a goldsmith and designer at the bench, not a marketer.
– You can’t be good at everything, notes Thomas.
He has also tried Google ads, but does not think it has given any further results or boosted sales.
Thomas’ collections are not collections that come and go. They grow up gradually. It is rare that he creates a cohesive collection in several parts at the same time.
Thomas mainly works in silver with his collections and jewelry because he thinks that silver has a price that suits more people and that it has a pure white color. Another reason is the difficulty of handling a lot of gold in the shop. He gets inspiration for his collections and jewelery from everything possible, such as from fashion, film, art – and comic magazines.
– I often look for a soft and warm expression. I like to mix precious metal with other materials, says Thomas.
He takes out jewelry where he has used and woven in leather straps and small plastic trays. Several of them are inspired by pins from the point era or even earlier.
– There is definitely a punk vein in my collections. I was also inspired by the mod culture when I was young. Badges like this were then used – like this RAF badge:
He shows off a pair of lovely fashion-inspired cufflinks. Thomas has also designed a ring in the same RAF collection. Jewelery in silver was dominated by the RAF roundel in blue, white and red.
Picked up from British Royal Air Force aircraft, the brand soon became part of pop and mod culture and was used by artists such as Jasper Jones. Its big broad breakthrough came through bands like The Who with Pete Townshend and The Jam, who used the symbol extensively. Bands that Thomas also listened to a lot.
Another inspiration for him is the Phantom. He shows the two Phantom Rings he designed. The ring with the good mark represents the Phantom’s protective nature, while the evil mark symbolizes his vengeful side. Together, the Phantom’s good and evil marks show that he is ready to use all his powers to protect the innocent and punish the guilty.
The Phantom was created by the American Lee Falk and premiered in the American daily press in 1936 – before both Superman and Batman. Sweden was one of the countries where the series was read the most. At most, the Phantom Newspapers were printed in 180,000 copies.
Imagine if you had been allowed to wear Thomas’ skull ring when you were ten years old! I think. I remember how I often stood and skimmed Phantom in the local supermarket when a new magazine arrived. The ring that Thomas created has many of the qualities that many other Phantom rings lack. Something that makes me want a Phantom ring even today – and of course the evil ring:
– I tried to make the ring as similar to the comic book ring as possible, says Thomas.
In his design, he has added much of the quality that was in the comic magazine. A slightly ruff ring that nevertheless also blinks a little ironically at the viewer. It has a special twist that puts a previously faithful Phantom reader in a good mood.
– The Phantom Ring came about through my friends. They had been given plastic garbage rings when they bought the newspaper as children. They said that now they wanted real Phantom rings – and that I should make them in silver.
So about 25 years ago he did his interpretations of the Phantom Rings, the good and the bad. The ring has since found its way to many different customers. Phantom carriers do not seem to be a homogeneous group.
– Some time ago I received a photo from a customer who gave a Fantomen ring as a very successful 90th birthday present to his father. Another customer recently purchased two Phantom Rings. She and her husband – who was locked up at Kumla – were to get married in the prison.
Jewelery is very much about communication. And can give rise to communication. A Phantom Ring certainly calls for this. At least for those who read Phantom magazines while growing up.
How creation and ideas for design come about can be difficult to explain. But it is not the case that Thomas’s ideas for new shapes and jewelery come from persistent drawing in the sketch pad.
Rather, Thomas’s ideas appear suddenly – as if out of nowhere. He has no idea where they will come from, or when they will come.
– I use the sketchpad very rarely. I sit down at the bench and start working on my idea right away and try to solve the problems that come up.
Nor when he creates more unique pieces of jewelry ordered by customers can they expect a sketch to visualize the piece for them.
– Sometimes I have to show them by first making the ring in silver or wax, he says.
It’s not always the customer and Thomas has the same idea about a piece of jewelry. If there is something that Thomas does not think he can stand for, he tries to redirect the customer’s idea.
– It doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s done. It’s a lot about personal chemistry. You have to trust each other. We look at different pictures, look at the jewelery the customer is already wearing. Recently I had a customer who was ordering wedding rings, she brought a picture of a small detail that she wanted me to base on. I didn’t really understand what it was, but tried my hand and finally pulled together a square thread. And showed her. We discussed further and in the end I made the rings in gold – and she was satisfied.
Wouldn’t it have been easier and faster to draw it up?
– I’m really bad at drawing! They wouldn’t have understood anything if I had drawn, says Thomas with a laugh. I think it’s better to show them in a direct way like this what it will look like for real.
He emphasizes that in the end it is often difficult to know exactly what the customer wanted in the finished ring. This is why good communication is so important. The customer may have had a small idea that the blacksmith built on and developed.
Thomas says that he has thought about using CAD programs in the future when he creates his products. But he is doubtful about it. Before we have time to delve into it, a new customer appears in the store who is interested in an engagement ring.
– It’s for my partner, a girl, says the customer.
– Are you thinking of a ring to begin with, a ring to propose with, Thomas wonders and asks if the customer has any ideas.
– I have envisioned a solitaire ring. Quite a pretty ring, as she has long, slender fingers. It must not be too big and flashy. I have envisioned a ring with a slightly cool feel, says the customer.
– I have an idea. It is similar to a ring I made some time ago. Here you can see a slightly lighter ring, says Thomas and shows the customer an Instagram picture on his mobile phone.
– It’s very nice, I like the high claws. They are not there just to hold the stone, but they mean something, says the customer enthusiastically.
Thomas shows the shape of the rail and the 0.20 Carat brilliant set in the ring. The customer would like to propose with the real ring. He says he thinks he knows what kind of ring she prefers.
– It’s cool to dare to go with that feeling. But I see that you are thinking a little about how it would be if she wanted the ring differently – you can propose with a plain ring and then come here and design it further, suggests Thomas.
– It’s a thought. A safe choice, but at the same time it’s fun to dare a little, says the customer.
Thomas continues to show pictures of other rings, some with larger diamond stones, but in the color Coffee Brown, stones that cost about half of the white ones.
– How do you look at lab-grown diamond stones, do they feel less real? asks the customer.
Thomas explains that it is difficult to say anything about the value going forward and that there is really no resale value for lab-grown diamonds. But the customer emphasizes that this is a stone that his fiancee should keep, not sell.
– That’s how it is. But when you do something like this by hand, it feels a bit like wasted money if you put a lab-grown diamond in there. But it is still debated. One of my suppliers sells lab grown diamonds, the other does not. There are still many question marks, says Thomas.
– Is it because they last less well, the customer wonders.
– No not at all. Apart from the fact that they have an uncertain value, for me personally it’s a lot about the feeling.
– Yes, this is a whole new world for me, but where is that first ring you showed me in price? asks the customer.
– Yes, what does it land on? Let me think a bit quickly, says Thomas and punches in some numbers and tells the price, but that he is happy to calculate an exact price if the customer wants.
The customer thinks about how it would go if he instead brought his girlfriend into the process, if she was along for the ride.
Thomas thinks that this can also be a good idea.
– It’s a fun process in itself. The ring must be custom made. If we agree to make a ring like this, I first roughly assemble the ring. Then we meet and from there it is possible to control the execution.
– It bears thinking about, says the customer.
– Yes, do that, it sounds like you need more time to think about how to do it.
– No, it will be too narrow. The width is determined by the size of the stone and the ring, the shape and the setting. The width of a ring like this lands at approximately 2.5 mm.
The customer tells us that the rings his girlfriend uses today are very narrow. He doesn’t want the engagement ring to stand out too much against these. He also wonders a little about the durability of different frames. In the end, he seems satisfied.
– Then we say so, concludes Thomas. I will draw up a price for you next week so you can think about all this in peace.
The customer disappears and I ask Thomas if he thinks there will be any business, will the customer return?
– Yes I think so. Got that feeling. But I’m not entirely sure, concludes Thomas.
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