Jewelry maker
Komangapik settles in after first year of operations

by Janet Smellie
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 27/97) - Earning his first taste of American currency was just one of the memories young jeweller Ruben Anton Komangapik has from his first tourist season in his new shop.

"It was a jewelry box made out of narwhal ivory, where I had sled dogs pulling it," he says, adding that the ingredients included 14-karat gold, sterling silver and a mask made out of ivory.

Komangapik, a graduate of Nunavut Arctic College's two-year jewelry and metalwork program, has been operating Kamagiak Jewelry out of the Parnaivik building in Iqaluit for 18 months now.

"It was a pretty good summer. I got some new connections," he said, including his first U.S. customer, who paid $1,500 for his jewelry box.

Currently working on designing a ring for a customer who wants the family heirloom -- a one-carat diamond -- to be reset in a gold gypsy setting, he's also busy gearing up for the Christmas season.

"I usually sell from word of mouth, and it's been good so far, but I'm going to start advertising more when I get enough products in my showcases."

The location of his shop, in what he calls an incubator mall, couldn't be better for ensuring he gets the exposure he needs.

"It's a really good location, it's like my own store, but it's an outlet where I'm mixed in with other outlets. There's Arctic Creations and a handful of businesses that make it a nice location for a retail outlet."

"I have display cases, and if people want to come and watch me make jewelry, that's just fine with me," he says, adding that he also provides a showcase for some of the latest works from students taking the jewelry-making program.

It's a program he plans to return to next semester to offer some workshops for the students.