Our Story

A family owned business since 1975, Ernst has worked professionally in Sydney as the owner of his own gold & silversmithing business and private school.  A strong alliance was formed in 1989 when Sharon and Ernst Pfenninger's business partnership began.  From 2003 until the present Ernst’s individual bespoke creative variety of work is on permanent display at their own boutique gallery style shop 'Studio 303' at 303 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt, the bridal hub of Sydney.

Sharon and Ernst work with clients to collaboratively create unique and custom designs bringing these concepts to life for clients who are looking for that unique, creative bespoke piece that will set them apart as the unique individual that they are.  For corporations, government bodies, city councils and many more organisations a great collaboration with businesses ensures that any incentive awards, gifts, special items truly reflects the occasion.  From individual pieces, multiples of small to larger items, lapel pins to major trophies Studio 303 delivers distinctive items of the finest quality.

Ernst Pfenninger's school for gold and silversmiths is Studio 303.  It is a private school and since 1975 has enjoyed Ernst sharing his professional experience and expertise with well over 1,500 students.  Teaching all levels from beginners, intermediate, advanced to professionals there is a maximum of 9 students per class all learning to design, create and craft their own special jewellery pieces and objects, each student is taught individually at their own pace in the class.


Having a flair for design excellence Ernst combines the time tested Swiss techniques of gold and silversmithing with creativity, enthusiasm and passion to fashion pieces that are truly individual.  His desire to go beyond traditional boundaries has led to Ernst creating unique, 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 precious and non precious metals, diamonds, gemstones, wood, perspex, resin, leather and much more.  Ernst handcrafts detailed contemporary, retro to classic items of jewellery, silverware, hollow-ware to small sculptures and ceremonial items for his clientele, corporate customers, educational institutions, government bodies and city councils.

Ernst Pfenninger is a master goldsmith, silversmith and designer with over 50 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 Sydney.

In 1974 he established his own workshop, showroom and private school "Ernst Pfenninger’s School for Gold and Silversmiths".  Since 2003 the school is known as Studio 303.  He has also taught at the University of New South Wales, the Summer School at Toowoomba, Queensland as well as giving demonstrations and workshops in country towns in New South Wales.  Over the years Ernst has also taught two full time apprentices.

"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.  There are a myriad of possibilities limited only by the imagination.  A diverse range of materials are used giving tangible expression to innovative and unique ideas."

Some notable commissions Ernst has designed and crafted are: the Ceremonial Keys to the City for 13 Councils; five maces for the Federal Court of Australia; awards for the Civil Contractors Federation of Australia for over 20 years; trophies for the Jewellers Association of Australia; awards for Tourism Australia USA for 11 years and the most prestigious Australian wine award in Australia for McWilliam's Wines crafted since 1990 for the past 29 years. Ernst’s work is renowned both in Australia and internationally where he was involved in several exhibitions both in Japan and Korea.


Sharon worked in London and Davos, Switzerland in her early 20's. From 1970 until 1989 she worked in the corporate sector in Sydney in Merchant Banking, Educational Publishing and financial institutions.

When she became a mum in 1989 Ernst and Sharon formed an alliance and have worked very successfully together ever since.

Since 1989 Sharon has worked as the Business Manager of Studio 303.  Being a small company of only two she does all the business parts required to run a small company from marketing to accounting and everything else in-between.  Sharon ensures that students attending the school, classes and special workshops are welcomed and the classes are well organised.

Studio 303 past designs ....  to see our past designs click here