There is absolutely a punk vein in me

Text from newspaper article by Hasse Hedström published in Tid & Smycken

He produces jewelry where he has used and woven in leather straps and small plastic trays. Several of them are inspired by pins from the punk era or even earlier. 

“There’s definitely a punk vein in my collections. I was also inspired by mod culture when I was young. Back then, badges like this were used – like this RAF badge:

He shows a pair of lovely mod-inspired cufflinks. Thomas has also designed a ring in the same RAF collection. Silver jewellery dominated by the RAF roundel in blue, white and red. 

The badge was picked up from the British aircraft of the Royal Air Force and soon became part of pop and mod culture and was used by artists such as Jasper Jones. Its big 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 inspirer 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 good and evil marks of the Phantom show that he is ready to use all his powers to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. 

The Phantom was created by American Lee Falk and premiered in American newspapers in 1936 – before both Superman and Batman. Sweden was one of the countries where the series was most read. At its peak, the Phantom magazines were printed in 180,000 copies.

Imagine if you had been able to carry Thomas’s skull when you were ten years old! I think. I remember how I often stood and read The Phantom in the local supermarket store when a new newspaper 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 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 designs, he has added much of the quality that was present in the comic book. A slightly rough ring that still also winks a little ironically at the viewer. It has a special twist that puts a previously loyal Phantom reader in a good mood.

“The Phantom Ring came about through my friends. They had brought plastic junk 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 made his interpretations of The Phantom Rings, the Good and the Evil. Since then, the ring has 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 had given a Phantom Ring as a very successful 90th birthday present to his father. Another customer recently bought two Phantom rings. She and her husband – who was locked up at Kumla – were getting married at the prison. 

Jewellery 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.

Hur skapande och idéer till formgivning kommer till kan vara svårt att förklara. Men det är inte så att Thomas idéer till nya former och smycken kommer genom ihärdigt ritande i skissblocket.

Rather, Thomas’s ideas appear suddenly – as if out of nowhere. He has no idea where they come from, or when they will come. 

“I use the sketchbook very rarely. I sit down at the bench and start working out my idea right away, trying to solve the problems that arise.

Even when he creates more unique jewelry ordered by customers, they cannot expect any sketch that visualizes the jewelry 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 of a piece of jewellery. If there is something that Thomas does not think he can stand for, he tries to redirect the customer’s idea.

I would assume. I didn’t really understand what it was, but I tried it out and finally pulled together a square wire. 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?

“I’m absolutely crazy at drawing! They wouldn’t have understood anything if I had drawn,” Thomas says with a laugh. I think it is better to show them in this direct way what it will look like for real.

He points out that in the end it is often difficult to know exactly what it was that the customer’s wishes were in the finished ring. That’s 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 software in the future when he creates his products. But he is doubtful about it. Before we can delve into it, a new customer shows up 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?” asks Thomas and asks if the customer has any idea.

“I’ve been thinking of a solitaire ring. A rather neat ring, as she has long, slender fingers. It must not be too big and blingy. I have imagined a ring with a slightly cool feeling, says the customer.

“I have an idea. It resembles a ring that I made some time ago. Here you can see a slightly lighter ring, says Thomas and shows an Instagram picture of his mobile to the customer.

“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 brilliant 0.20 Carat 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 on that feeling. But I see that you are thinking a little about what it will be like if she would have liked the ring differently – you can propose with a smooth 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 the white.

– How do you look at lab-grown diamond stones, do they feel less real? wonders 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 fiancée should keep, not sell.

“That’s the way 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 there. But it is still debated. One of my suppliers sells lab-grown diamonds, the other doesn’t. There are still many question marks, says Thomas.

“Is it because they last worse?” asks the customer.

“No, not at all. In addition to the fact that they have an uncertain value, for me personally it is very much about the feeling. 

–Yes, this is a whole new world for me, but where is that first ring you showed me in price? wonders the customer.

– Yes, what does it land on? Let me think a little quickly, says Thomas and enters a few numbers and tells the price, but that he is happy to calculate an exact price if the customer wants.

The customer wonders what would happen if he instead brought his girlfriend in the process, if she was on the trip.

Thomas thinks that this too can be a good idea.

“It’s a fun process in itself. The ring should be customized. If we agree that we are going to make a ring like this, I first put the ring together roughly. Then we meet and from there it is possible to control the execution.

“It’s worth thinking about,” says the customer.

– Yes, do so, it sounds like you need more time to think about how to do it.

Thomas shows how the customer can find more instagram pictures of rings in similar designs. They come to the conclusion that Thomas should calculate a price for a gold ring with a white stone of 0.3 Carat. The customer wonders if it is possible to get the ring 1.5 mm wide.

“No, it’s too narrow. The width is determined by the size of the stone and ring, by the shape and by the mount. The width of a ring like this lands at about 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 settings. In the end, he seems satisfied.

“Then we say so,” concludes Thomas. I’ll bring out a price that you have next week so you can calmly think about all this. 

The customer disappears away and I ask Thomas if he thinks there will be a deal, will the customer come back?

“Yes, I think so. Got that feeling. But I’m not entirely sure,” concludes Thomas.

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