Briefly, tell us how Divers Gifts & Collectables started. When did you start to see a demand for these types of products?
I served in the Royal Navy as a Mine Clearance Diver for over 33 years. During my tenure, it was quite evident that there was a need for diving related gifts: at that time, primarily for military and commercial divers.
There were always events taking place that required presentation gifts; whether it was a retirement or a career achievement.
The business began as a hobby but soon evolved with popularity!
Your glass figures are handmade and customized for specific requirements. What’s one of the most difficult aspects of making these glass models?
There is a lot of heating and cooling that takes place during the process of making the glass models. The biggest challenge this presents is cracking. It’s just an unavoidable part of the process when you are dealing with such a high and low range of temperatures. These models are not “blown” – they are made with solid molten lead-free silicon glass – shaped and sculpted by hand.
No molds are used whatsoever.
In your print section, you have a couple versions of a shark and commercial diver painting. How do you feel these paintings stand out from others on the market?
John Simm is a brilliant artist, and one of the most notable differences is his use of depth of field and detail. These attributes are very pronounced when these prints are displayed with appropriate lighting.
How do you find antiques, and what are your requirements for categorizing items as such?
A lot of searching and sometimes sheer luck!
You can stumble across great finds in antique or thrift shops, car boot sales and poorly listed items on eBay. Sometimes it’s by word of mouth.
Experience allows me to categorize correctly.
Is most of your target audience current or former professional divers? Or do you believe many work outside of the profession?
Based upon sales over the years and the daily enquiries we receive, it is a fairly equal mix of all three. We deal with current and former professional commercial and military divers every day.
We also deal with a lot of enthusiasts who may never have worked in the profession but find historical diving intriguing.
Recreational divers always want something different to give as “leaving gifts”, and that is where we come in.
What’s one of your most popular items? Do you have any theories as to why it’s so popular?
It is difficult to say just one item, as there are really two that always stand out:
The MkV Diver and the Kirby Morgan Commercial Diver (both in cold-cast bronze).
Because there is such an equal mix of former and current professional divers as customers, these two figurines are always at the forefront.
It really is a true representation of the old and the new.
What’s one of the major highlights of working in the industry?
The major highlight would have to be being selected as the primary contractor, after stiff competition, for the MkV Monument:
The 11-foot, bronze statue of a historical hard hat diver named “JAKE” was erected in October 2012 at the Naval Diving & Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) in Panama City Beach, Florida.
This project was a labour of love that spanned nearly 6 years…selling 300 limited edition statuettes funded the entire project.
The MkV Monument represents a sentiment of deep appreciation to all the past, present and future military divers all around the world and is the most visited monument in Florida!
Paul Guiver, CEO & Artist of Divers Gifts & Collectables
Serving divers and diver enthusiasts around the world, Divers Gifts & Collectables sells maritime figurines, art, books and antiquities.