I enter a shop decorated in silver fir and linen-covered furniture. There are tulip-shaped showcases displaying fine jewellery. The atmosphere is rich and so is the welcome, which in this case I mean literally: after all the Glanzstück in Hittisau is a dazzling jewellery shop. Unlike some casual, window-shopping visitor, I’m not actually here by chance: as a trained goldsmith myself, it is my great pleasure to report on the goings on at the Glanzstück and the success of a dear colleague. Learning more about this gem of a shop in the village centre of Hittisau, which has already been in operation for 10 years, starts with the shop’s founder, Christina Fetz-Eberle. I soon also discover this is actually her second business foray, as she became self-employed at an early age following two apprenticeships as a retail clerk and a jeweller.
A Head Full of Glittering Ideas
Jewellery designer Christina Fetz-Eberle’s Glanzstück jewellery shop in Hittisau combines local traditions with craftsmanship and a feel for design.
Securing an apprenticeship in the goldsmith’s trade is no easy task: Positions are rare and in great demand. Fetz-Eberle, however, proved to be both patient and persistent, all the while receiving encouragement from her father. To procure the necessary tools and materials, the pair travelled to Pforzheim, a famous stronghold of goldsmiths. Upon returning home to Hittisau, Fetz-Eberle made use of her grandfather’s forge, a working space she soon called her own. “I quickly realised that jewellery making was in my blood. Yet processing stainless steel on my father’s large machines was laborious,” recounts Fetz-Eberle. As a result, she soon switched from hard metals to “Art Clay Silver,” a soft modelling material, which, after firing, becomes jewellery made of almost pure silver. No sawing, bending or forging and no laborious attempts to fuse things together. The method enables one to create flexible, easy to shape designs that ultimately require fewer working hours. “I learned to make many leaves and blossoms, quite playful creations. I have been using this method for about eight years now and have developed my own style,” says the jewellery designer in appraising her own development.
The shop has come a long way from humble beginnings. Collaborating with Goldsmith Anna Waibel from Hohenems, whose jewellery pieces are sold in the Glanzstück, helped confirm her professional vision. “My jewellery sold well, but I didn’t have a benchmark against which to measure my talents. Anna motivated me to take a gem-setting course with her in Switzerland. The course confirmed my talent for working with metal and stones. Personally it was very gratifying.” Every designer develops a personal style, a calling card. In Fetz-Eberle’s case, the jewellery is filigree and closer examinations can be very rewarding. Her choice of motifs reflects her interest in nature. Each piece, water droplets, rosettes, goblets and orbs, radiates enchanting simplicity. As time went on, Glanzstück’s customer base continued to grow and so too did Fetz-Eberle’s family. Even after the birth of her first daughter, this strong businesswoman could still be found hard at work. Her daughter, Sofia had a quiet nature and a strong family network helped Fetz-Eberle to better combine work and family life. A few years later, she married Andreas, the father of Sofia, and over time their family grew to include Theo and Pius. All the while, Christina Fetz-Eberle also continued to expand her business. At the new location in the centre of Hittisau, the range of jewellery, watches and handicrafts became ever more extensive. In spite of expansion, she ensured that the same high standards of customer service and craftsmanship remained the same. With time, Fetz-Eberle decided that priorities had to change: a desire to more fully dedicate herself to her young family could not be ignored. Pia, Helene and Sophia supported her decision and so she relinquished responsibilities, even when it came to jewellery production. Realising she had too little time to work, her designs were outsourced to a goldsmith in Dornbirn. The solution suits all involved. “I’m fortunate that outside customers make the effort to travel to my store. Regarding the creative process, I can honestly say that I designed the jewellery myself, because the ideas and handcraft production method originated in my head. In this way, the pieces bear my handicraft signature too.” Fetz-Eberle has never suffered from a lack of ideas. Glanzstück designs combine modernity with traditional craftsmanship and a regional touch, such as polished stones from the Subersach region. She recently added a new collection of matching earrings to her range of traditional Bregenzerwald Tracht dress jewellery. Though the product is new, it now seems indispensable today.
Author: Mirjam Capricorn
Issue: Winter 2019-20 Travel Magazine