Profile

Ernst Pfenninger is a master goldsmith, silversmith and designer with over 45 years of professional experience and expertise.  He completed a four year apprenticeship in silversmithing at Fumagalli, Zurich followed by a two year apprenticeship in goldsmithing at Klaesi, Ruti Zurich and, at the same time, attended for 6 years the prestigious Art School for Gold and Silversmiths at the Kunstgewerbe Schule, Zurich.

Between 1970 and 1973 Ernst worked professionally in Switzerland.  In 1973 he left Switzerland for Australia where he desired an experience of another lifestyle, culture and to further develop his own personal professional artistic style.  He loved Australia so much that Sydney became his permanent home.  Between 1973 and 1974 Ernst worked professionally with Wal Van Heeckeren.

In 1974 he established his own workshop and showroom.  In that year he also started his own private school, Ernst Pfenninger’s School for Gold and Silversmiths where he has taught jewellery and silversmithing to over 800 students and continues teaching today, a period spanning 38 years.

Between 1979 and 1983 Ernst taught one night a week and every annual summer school at the University of New South Wales.  In the early 1980’s he also taught at the Summer School at Toowoomba, Queensland as well as giving demonstrations and workshops in some country towns such as Molong and Quirindi in New South Wales.

In 1981 Ernst had a full time apprentice for one year (Crafts Council grant) and from 1999 to 2003 another full time apprentice.

A strong alliance was formed in 1989 when Sharon and Ernst Pfenninger's business partnership began.  From 2003 until the present Ernst’s work is on permanent display at their own gallery style shop Studio 303 at 303 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt with his workshop on the premises.

Ernst has a flair for design excellence combining the time tested Swiss techniques of gold and silversmithing with creativity, enthusiasm and passion to fashion pieces that are truly unique.  His desire to go beyond traditional boundaries has led to Ernst creating individual, unusual and exquisite fine jewellery of the highest quality and an array of objet d’art. He works with and combines a myriad of materials including gold, silver, platinum, titanium, brass, bronze, diamonds, gemstones, wood, perspex, resin, leather, fibres and much more.  Ernst handcrafts detailed contemporary to classic items of jewellery, silverware, hollow-ware to small sculptures and ceremonial items for his private clientele, corporate customers, educational institutions, government bodies and city councils.

Some notable commissions Ernst has designed and created are the ceremonial Keys to the City for 11 Councils, five maces for the Federal Court of Australia, awards for the Civil Contractors Federation of Australia for over 20 years until the present, trophies for the Jewellers Association of Australia, a major Australian wine award for McWilliams Wines crafted since 1990 until the present and awards for Tourism Australia USA for a period of 11 years.

Ernst’s work is renowned both in Australia and internationally where he was involved in several exhibitions both in Japan and Korea.


 

"A great inspiration for my work comes from nature - the shapes, textures, patterns, combination of materials, balance and proportions. Each piece that I design and craft has its own unique quality and intrinsic essence."

Pfenninger, 2001

"There are a myriad of possibilities limited only by the imagination."

A master craftsman with a flair for design excellence, Ernst combines the time tested Swiss techniques of gold and silversmithing with creativity, enthusiasm and passion to fashion an item that is truly unique. His desire to go beyond traditional boundaries has led to individual and exquisite creations.

Ernst is a master designer, goldsmith and silversmith. He completed both professions in Switzerland and attended the prestigious art school, Kunstgewerbe Schule in Zurich. Ernst arrived in Australia in 1973 to establish his workshop, showroom and private school.

A diverse range of materials are used giving tangible expression to innovative and unique ideas. Spectacular works are produced in customised jewellery from contemporary styles to classic elegance. Ernst's work is renowned both in Australia and internationally.

A strong alliance was formed in 1989 when Sharon and Ernst Pfenninger's business partnership began.

MEMBERSHIP:

  • Member of the Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia

Testimonials

  • Ernst Pfenninger is a creative, high quality jeweller, goldsmith and silversmith. We had many pieces individually made over a number of years and were excited every time we saw the finished article. People often noticed and commented on my wife's jewellery as it was original and superbly crafted.
    I recommend Ernst to the discerning.

    Ernst Pfenninger is a creative, high quality jeweller, goldsmith and silversmith. We had many pieces individually made over a number of years and were excited every time we saw the finished article. People often noticed and commented on my wife's jewellery as it was original and superbly crafted.
    I recommend Ernst to the discerning.

    Brian Stanwell

  • Having been a student taught by Ernst Pfenninger at Studio 303 for over 20 years I highly recommend Ernst as a teacher for anyone wanting to learn about or improve their jewellery and silversmithing skills. I had previously learnt at other schools but none can compare with that so generously taught to me by Ernst. This school is one of our cities hidden secrets.

    Having been a student taught by Ernst Pfenninger at Studio 303 for over 20 years I highly recommend Ernst as a teacher for anyone wanting to learn about or improve their jewellery and silversmithing skills. I had previously learnt at other schools but none can compare with that so generously taught to me by Ernst. This school is one of our cities hidden secrets.

    Brian Levy

  • What I like best is unsparing access to the best equipment plus unstinting advice and support from Ernst in all my projects. Others in the class do interesting projects which gives additional inspiration and the friendly atmosphere adds to it as well.

    What I like best is unsparing access to the best equipment plus unstinting advice and support from Ernst in all my projects. Others in the class do interesting projects which gives additional inspiration and the friendly atmosphere adds to it as well.

    Lila Cohen

  • I found the workshops with Ernst to be fun friendly and most of all educational and inspirational. His professionalism is outstanding and pieces I made at the workshops helped me to secure an apprenticeship. Well worth the money and time and definitely not to be missed.

    I found the workshops with Ernst to be fun friendly and most of all educational and inspirational. His professionalism is outstanding and pieces I made at the workshops helped me to secure an apprenticeship. Well worth the money and time and definitely not to be missed.

    Tyrus Shay

  • Ernst is a teacher of outstanding skill and workmanship. The environment in which one learns is educational & inspirational yet relaxed ~ altogether an enjoyable experience which leads one into many aspects of the jewellery trade. Ernst seems to have an inexhaustible well of expertise & experience for his students to draw from... I could attend these classes till I'm 99!

    Ernst is a teacher of outstanding skill and workmanship. The environment in which one learns is educational & inspirational yet relaxed ~ altogether an enjoyable experience which leads one into many aspects of the jewellery trade. Ernst seems to have an inexhaustible well of expertise & experience for his students to draw from... I could attend these classes till I'm 99!

    Maia Eliott

  • On behalf of everyone at the Australian Tourist Commission in Los Angeles and the many Aussie Specialists vying for the opportunity to win one, thank you for the Opal Award. The Awards are in recognition of the significant achievements amongst travel agents in the sales and marketing of Australia - competition among the agents for the Award and the beautiful trophy is fierce.

    On behalf of everyone at the Australian Tourist Commission in Los Angeles and the many Aussie Specialists vying for the opportunity to win one, thank you for the Opal Award. The Awards are in recognition of the significant achievements amongst travel agents in the sales and marketing of Australia - competition among the agents for the Award and the beautiful trophy is fierce.

    Warren Grau

  • Thank you for joining us at the third Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Award at the Hotel Inter-Continental. We appreciate your support and enthusiasm, which has helped to make this dinner such a success and an important event on the wine industry calendar. With your continued support next year’s event should be even more successful.

    Thank you for joining us at the third Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Award at the Hotel Inter-Continental. We appreciate your support and enthusiasm, which has helped to make this dinner such a success and an important event on the wine industry calendar. With your continued support next year’s event should be even more successful.

    Dan Stafford

  • Ernst was my teacher for many years, it was a wonderful experience. Ernst has designed and executed pieces of jewellery for me over many years, these pieces are unique and as fashionable today as when he designed them. Ernst's workmanship is outstanding, unique and perfect. Thanks for your excellent service over the years.

    Ernst was my teacher for many years, it was a wonderful experience. Ernst has designed and executed pieces of jewellery for me over many years, these pieces are unique and as fashionable today as when he designed them. Ernst's workmanship is outstanding, unique and perfect. Thanks for your excellent service over the years.

    Ulla

  • I was a student of Ernst Pfenninger for a long time & enjoyed the many years I attended the classes. Ernst is always helpful & patient in his advice & I found his work inspirational. His attention to detail & precise instruction in the use of the tools made it "seem" easy to a beginner. All the skills I learnt from Ernst enabled me to do today what I love most: making jewellery! Thank you Ernst

    I was a student of Ernst Pfenninger for a long time & enjoyed the many years I attended the classes. Ernst is always helpful & patient in his advice & I found his work inspirational. His attention to detail & precise instruction in the use of the tools made it "seem" easy to a beginner. All the skills I learnt from Ernst enabled me to do today what I love most: making jewellery! Thank you Ernst

    Catherine Grisard

  • It has been my pleasure to work with Swiss trained jeweller Ernst Pfenninger on special projects over a number of years, one of which was most complicated because of the mechanics & originality. Ernst has the rare talent of working in different mediums & can visualise a finished product immediately. In addition, Ernst is an outstanding hands-on highly sought after jewellery teacher here in Sydney.

    It has been my pleasure to work with Swiss trained jeweller Ernst Pfenninger on special projects over a number of years, one of which was most complicated because of the mechanics & originality. Ernst has the rare talent of working in different mediums & can visualise a finished product immediately. In addition, Ernst is an outstanding hands-on highly sought after jewellery teacher here in Sydney.

    George R.

  • Ernst believes in originality & perfection. He pushes you to explore your design, expand on the theme but guides you to find the best way of achieving a professional result. I like the way the classes are kept small, assuring each one of us has ample time for questions or for help with a complex piece. I wear the jewelley I made every day because they are unique & express who I am.

    Ernst believes in originality & perfection. He pushes you to explore your design, expand on the theme but guides you to find the best way of achieving a professional result. I like the way the classes are kept small, assuring each one of us has ample time for questions or for help with a complex piece. I wear the jewelley I made every day because they are unique & express who I am.

    Anneke Mackay - Smith

  • Ernst is very generous with design ideas & the use of all of the tools. He has an amazing breadth of knowledge about jewellery construction & the workshop is very well equipped to handle any project. Ernst & Sharon provide an enjoyable & welcoming atmosphere & I can certainly recommend Studio 303 Jewellery School to anyone interested in learning the art of jewellery making & silversmithing.

    Ernst is very generous with design ideas & the use of all of the tools. He has an amazing breadth of knowledge about jewellery construction & the workshop is very well equipped to handle any project. Ernst & Sharon provide an enjoyable & welcoming atmosphere & I can certainly recommend Studio 303 Jewellery School to anyone interested in learning the art of jewellery making & silversmithing.

    Raimonde Maine

  • Studio 303 is a fantastic place to learn silversmithing. Ernst is technically the best lecturer I have come across in Sydney. I highly recommend the school.

    Studio 303 is a fantastic place to learn silversmithing. Ernst is technically the best lecturer I have come across in Sydney. I highly recommend the school.

    Anna Yeung

  • Ernst helps his students achieve their goals in creating their own individual jewellery and make their design concepts a reality. Challenges that arise are met with calmness & ingenuity. There is no one better to inspire a love of the creative process and leave you with the belief that in the world of jewellery anything is possible.

    Ernst helps his students achieve their goals in creating their own individual jewellery and make their design concepts a reality. Challenges that arise are met with calmness & ingenuity. There is no one better to inspire a love of the creative process and leave you with the belief that in the world of jewellery anything is possible.

    Michelle Clark

  • Now that we are back from the AILA Congress in Singapore we wish to thank you both for the Gold Medal being such a splendid object. The recipient, Professor Halliday was very impressed, as were all our Executive Board, International Committee and Congress participants. Thank you for your skills, co-operations and understanding what the Medal was supposed to achieve.

    Now that we are back from the AILA Congress in Singapore we wish to thank you both for the Gold Medal being such a splendid object. The recipient, Professor Halliday was very impressed, as were all our Executive Board, International Committee and Congress participants. Thank you for your skills, co-operations and understanding what the Medal was supposed to achieve.

    Professor Christopher N Candlin

  • I have loved the creative atmosphere of Ernst's studio... I particularly enjoyed the small group situation that allowed me to progress at my own pace, developing ideas & designs into really individual pieces of work. Ernst is a patient teacher with a wicked sense of humour. He & Sharon open their workshop to students & encourage a camaraderie within the group that develops creativity & enjoyment for all participants.

    I have loved the creative atmosphere of Ernst's studio... I particularly enjoyed the small group situation that allowed me to progress at my own pace, developing ideas & designs into really individual pieces of work. Ernst is a patient teacher with a wicked sense of humour. He & Sharon open their workshop to students & encourage a camaraderie within the group that develops creativity & enjoyment for all participants.

    Judy Muir

  • I am writing to say how very much the silver oar mace has been admired by the judges and the members of the legal profession. I think it is superb, only today I received a comment from a member of the House of Lords, his Lordship said it was “beautiful” and “a fitting enhancement of the Admiralty Court”. The Court is very proud of it.

    I am writing to say how very much the silver oar mace has been admired by the judges and the members of the legal profession. I think it is superb, only today I received a comment from a member of the House of Lords, his Lordship said it was “beautiful” and “a fitting enhancement of the Admiralty Court”. The Court is very proud of it.

    M.E.J. Black, Chief Justice

  • I have enjoyed attending Ernst Pfenninger’s closely supervised workshops for over three years, during which time my interest in silver-smithing & decorating items with semi-precious stones in the “Arts and Crafts” style has been realised many times... Ernst will provide projects to suit all abilities, particularly for those students just beginning the hobby and requiring more direction.

    I have enjoyed attending Ernst Pfenninger’s closely supervised workshops for over three years, during which time my interest in silver-smithing & decorating items with semi-precious stones in the “Arts and Crafts” style has been realised many times... Ernst will provide projects to suit all abilities, particularly for those students just beginning the hobby and requiring more direction.

    Dr.Barrie Egerton, PhD., CPhys., MInstP.

  • I've done 2 terms at Studio 303 (1 Days and 1 Nights) with Ernst, and I really like the freedom to create anything I want. Ernst has so much knowledge from his many years of experience that he is able to help fine tune designs so I could bring them to a finished piece.

    I've done 2 terms at Studio 303 (1 Days and 1 Nights) with Ernst, and I really like the freedom to create anything I want. Ernst has so much knowledge from his many years of experience that he is able to help fine tune designs so I could bring them to a finished piece.

    Matthew Morin

  • I have been a student at studio 303 for years now, I love that I can turn my ideas into reality and create one of a kind pieces. Ernst is a fun and extremely patient teacher who has helped me learn any new technique I wish to learn. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to learn from a master artisan such as Ernst.

    I have been a student at studio 303 for years now, I love that I can turn my ideas into reality and create one of a kind pieces. Ernst is a fun and extremely patient teacher who has helped me learn any new technique I wish to learn. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to learn from a master artisan such as Ernst.

    Jody Shipway

  • I have learned a huge amount about silver smithing from Ernst who is a master craftsman. He encourages you to show initiative and try out your own ideas but is always there to give you help when you need it.

    I have learned a huge amount about silver smithing from Ernst who is a master craftsman. He encourages you to show initiative and try out your own ideas but is always there to give you help when you need it.

    Angela

  • I have learned a huge amount about silver smithing from Ernst who is a master craftsman. He encourages you to show initiative and try out your own ideas but is always there to give you help when you need it.

    I have learned a huge amount about silver smithing from Ernst who is a master craftsman. He encourages you to show initiative and try out your own ideas but is always there to give you help when you need it.

    Angela

  • I attended Studio 303 for approx. 8 years and enjoyed the creative atmosphere, a workshop stocked with every imaginable tool and the unrivalled experience of Ernst Pfenninger. I learnt a lot from Ernst and was able to make many pieces, with his guidance, that I am very happy to wear.

    I attended Studio 303 for approx. 8 years and enjoyed the creative atmosphere, a workshop stocked with every imaginable tool and the unrivalled experience of Ernst Pfenninger. I learnt a lot from Ernst and was able to make many pieces, with his guidance, that I am very happy to wear.

    Lyn S

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