Actually Cees became a goldsmith almost accidentally. Cees was working for a huge company in their transportation department. Then he met a jeweller that would like to train someone to become a goldsmith.

At that point in his young life, Cees was already living with his then girlfriend (since his wife). She was still at school at the time and our young couple needed Cees’ income. Going for the course meant losing about 20% of his salary.

His father reacted quite surprised. Saying to Cees “you just don’t have the patience to be a goldsmith“. Which was exactly what Cees needed as a final push…. to start his goldsmith training course.

Despite his first surprised reaction, Cees’ dad supported his sons’ initiative and that’s how Cees came to participate in the goldsmith training.

A dramatic start as a goldsmith trainee

To be very honest about it, Cees hated it af first. “I was used to drive around in my other job, being on the move, meeting and talking to different people, day in, day out. Sitting inside all day was a shock at first to me. But, if only to prove to my dad that I am able to pursue this training, I persevered and got through the entire training.”

Gradually, as Cees hones his skills, he started to discover the pleasure in crafting pieces of jewellery.

First job

This training was his first job as the very first employee of a jewellery workshop near to his home. That company grew to employ 15 people after some time. In 1996 Cees decided it was time to start his own business with a partner, as a supplier to large brands. He delivered mainly wedding bands and traditional jewels to them. As in many branches, the market went south after a while. Competition from low wage countries undercut the local manufacturing cost for mass market jewellery.

Another coincidence

In his previous job Cees had already been playing around with the idea of integrating one’s fingerprint as the central element of jewels. As a very strong element of remembrance. So he got in touch with 7 undertakers, to submit his idea to them: create a jewel with the fingerprint of a deceased person in order to create a unique remembrance jewel. One of the undertakers told him that that there was an ‘Funeral Exhibition’ coming up.uitvaartbeurs

An exhibition that took place only once every 4 years in Utrecht, The Netherlands. His mind starting working furiously and Cees put one and one together.

“I realized this is an event I had to attend at all cost. Despite the fact I had no money, no collection and even no brand name yet.”

Again Cees needed to appeal to his father willingness to lend him the funds required, because he was able to secure the very last booth available on that funeral exhibition. Now ‘all Cees needed to do’ is create a sample collection that would be ready for the exhibition, in less than 4 weeks.

The 8 o’ clock news

Cees was ready in time and stood in his booth of barely 3 meters by 3 meters in a corner of the exhibition hall, where all innovative items were on display. Suddenly a man approaches him, asking if he can shoot some video images of the booth. Cees agrees and is surprised the man doesn’t show up with a camcorder, but with a huge professional video camera. And there’s a lady who wants to interview him with the crew. Not just any lady, but a reporter from the Dutch Public National Television (NOS). She wants to interview him about his collection. Cees thought this was an item for a regional television channel. Of course he said yes and got interviewed about his fingerprint jewellery collection.nos-journaal

Right after the interview Cees asks the reporter when this is being shown on television.

“Oh, it’s for the national 8 o’ clock news, sir”, replied the reporter.

And indeed, that same evening, Cees was on the most viewed news show of the country.

The power of media

To make a long story short, the next day, about 400 (four hundred !) people walked into Cees’ little 3 by 3 booth. It goes without saying that he heard a lot of positive feedback that day. Most of these visitors were undertakers, interested in offering Cees’ fingerprint jewellery as part of their offer to families who had just lost someone and came to make funerary arrangements. After barely one exhibition Cees had his first clients.

In 2006 Cees started Jewel Concepts on his own and by 2016 Cees is present in 14 countries.