All About GoldWorks Design Studio

Gold Works has been on the corner of King Street and West Street in Old Town Alexandria since 1990  The store carries beautiful sought after custom designed jewelry and supplies the finest cut and polished diamonds and precious stones available.  We stand behind our service and are very proud of our high quality.


photo by Tisara Photography


David as a young child, about 3 or 4 years oldJewelry designer David Martin, the primary force at the shop, has a very diverse background from medical illustration to sculpture.  Since settling in Alexandria in 1983 David has focused on jewelry design. "It is easy for me to see in three dimensions and work in four axis," he says. His expertise is creating fine jewelry (primarily wedding sets), salvaging old pieces, or redesigning them by adding his own touch.  David says, "I make things work for people and that's what it's all about."

David has studied with some of the finest jewelers in the country.  His sculpture and jewelry has been in collections at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, D.C., the Montgomery School of Art, and the University of Maryland. He has shown, competed, and won recognition and awards with the Washingon Guild of Goldsmiths, the Historical Preservation of Art in Woodlawn, VA, and the Art League in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

David has also studied with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for stone setting and jewelry design. He has a certificate with the Swest Institute for metal casting and a certificate with Jewelers of America for jewelry store management. The GIA has also certified him for jewelry replacement appraisals.

He hasn't changed very much over the years and likes to point that out. Whenever possible he tries to make people laugh with his rich, dry sense of humor.

The Many Roles of a Jewelry Designer


Designing jewelry and becoming a jewelry designer is not the easiest professional path to follow. I have found that in my shop I need to wear several different hats to be an expert jewelry designer. First, I must know about the metals I use—18 karat (kt), 14kt, 10kt, platinum, white gold, yellow gold, pink gold, green gold, European gold, Italian gold, and bronze. To create different textures and surfaces, I use patinas, sand blasting, antiquing, and casting for jewelry (also known as lost wax casting). These and many other techniques all must be used and mastered for successful jewelry design.


I also must be a scientist. For example, I use metal chemistry to achieve specific karat qualities by measuring proportions of 24kt gold with silver, copper, nickel or zinc. I weigh these amounts, as is required by law. These weight proportions create the various colors of gold and also the karat rating.


Sometimes when I work with clients, I become the mediator between the sexes in design choices. During this process, I encourage my clients to share their personal vision for the piece of jewelry I will design for them. Much of my jewelry design has developed from clients who are able to communicate what they want through word descriptions or from their own artistic drawings. As the designer, I sometimes can forsee that one kind of stone will work better than another, so I may suggest a sapphire over a ruby. A brunette will often prefer the dark blue color of a sapphire and a blond will choose the color of her eyes or even a ruby over a dark blue stone.


My own personal background as a graphic illustrator in the fields of architecture, historical art, and medicine has been invaluable to me as a jewelry designer. I began designing jewelry as I developed those illustrations into wearable art and miniature sculpture. Carvings I have done in alabaster, malachite, turquoise, marble, and opal have become part of unique, hand made items of jewelry. I also inlay stones into wedding bands made of gold, white gold, and yellow gold, as well as rings and pendants made of silver, platinum and bronze.


A great deal of my designs are developed from a historical source, such as Roman, Egyptian, and Grecian art. There are endless sources from other places as well, including the famous braiding used in ancient Celtic designs. Family Crests are also a wonderful source of inspiration for a design that will have personal and historical meaning for a client. Almost all names have a crest that was flown when traveling or fighting to identify the clan or group. These crests were used on family rings for sealing documents and making letters secure for traveling to the receiver. As a result, crests and signet rings have become an important resource for jewelery designers.


Patience is a must to create a design that will work to accomplish a specific vision. My priority as a designer is to develop a piece that is successful because of its beauty and simplicity. In order to set a stone, whether it is a diamond or any other precious stone or semi-precious gem, a design must have strength, beauty, and balance. Even an asymmetrical design must be balanced.

I am very pleased to be able to design for friends and clients from all over the world. My primary goal is to consistently produce a high level of artistic quality in a variety of pleasing styles. It has surprised me to find that most people like traditional settings such as the solitaire diamond setting for various sizes of diamonds and engagement rings. Diamonds of a half carat and 1 carat are the favorite size stones, with four and six prongs being the most popular settings. Other gems are also used in rings and pendants, usually in simple designs. Some baroque style rings use abstract or fancy cut colored stones such as the blue topaz, citrine, amethyst, and tanzanite. More exotic designs can be created with opals and black opals from Australia and Mexico, or amethyst and tourmalines from Brazil and Africa. There are so many stones that find their way into jewelry design that it is mind-boggling and it keeps all of us in the field on our toes. If I can be of help to you in the search for the right stones for your piece, please feel free to contact us.


Our Staff
Left to right - Kathryn Brown, David Martin, Regina Gillespie, Huynh Nguyen, Sarah Bryen(Former Social Media)
photo by Tisara Photography

Regina Gillespie, Operations Manager/Pearl Stringer
photo by Tisara Photography

Kathryn Brown, Bookkeeper/Assistant Store Manager
photo by Tisara Photography

Not Pictured

Aimee Nece, Store and Sales Manager 

Huynh Nguyen, Assistant Jeweler