Interview with Bethany Harrison - Jeweller at Kirsty Taylor Jewellery

Friday, February 07, 2014

Beth's Journey

Ever wondered how do jewellers become jewellers?  We hear from our very own apprentice jeweller Beth Harrison on how she got started, and where she finds her inspiration. 

What interested you in making jewellery?

I became interested in jewellery when I was bought a very delicate little floral silver ring; it had an unusual band and so much detail. I immediately wanted to know how to make it.  
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to have a trial run (so Kirsty could see if I was any good). I was asked to make a pebble, and a word disc. It tested my cutting skills straight away, which was fun and challenging. However it reminded me of doing woodwork at school; using saws and files and sandpaper. Stamping the pebble and the word disc was a total challenge! Trying to line up the letters on the word disc was tough, but it wasn’t a bad first attempt. Once the day was over I had to wait to see if I’d got the job; which of course I did.

What was the first commission you did?

I had been working with Kirsty for just under a year when my brother asked me to make him an engagement ring.   I chatted through the options of metals, precious and semi-precious gemstones, and budgets.  He opted for a very beautiful 18ct white gold ring with a stunning pear shaped emerald set on top.  I made the ring in silver to begin with so I could get the setting perfect for the very special emerald.  Then the white gold setting and band were easier to complete.

The ring was an exciting challenge for me.  Working on anyone's engagement is stressful as its a piece of jewellery that will love and cherish their entire lives, and hopefully one day pass onto their children.   I’m glad Kirsty told me after I’d set the stone, that emeralds are quite soft and easy to chip or crack.  Had I of known that before setting it I would have been a bit more nervous. 
You’ve made a few collections, which one is your favourite?
It would have to be my charity acorn collection.
Since November 2013 I have been selling a jewellery collection consisting of sterling silver solid acorns. The price ranges from £60 - £100. I donate 20% of every sale to Cancer Research UK, and I am going to donate 10% of sales to Coping With Cancer, once it totals up a bit.
The idea for the collection came from a customer I had been serving who had told me she was going through breast cancer treatment. I was able to discuss what sort of treatment and what side effect she had been getting because I completely understood as I’ve had family members go through the same treatment. I lost my nana to cancer in 2011, then had my mum diagnosed a few months later. The lady I was serving told me she carried around a little silver acorn in her bag with her wherever she went (her husband bought her it) and the meaning behind it was so lovely; the acorn is a symbol of strength and power. An acorn only appears on a fully mature oak. It is often considered a symbol of the patience needed to attain goals over long periods of time. It represents perseverance and hard work. This sums up everything you need to battle cancer.  
 So once my mum was over all of her treatment I wanted to give back in some way to the people who had helped her. So I designed and made an acorn collection out of solid sterling silver, and have been selling them in the shop. I made my first donation to Cancer Research UK at the end of December and it was £102! I am also totaling up 10% of the sales on this collection to donate to Coping With Cancer a small charity that is totally ran on donations and fundraisers. They have and still are helping my mum and once my mum is finished her treatment with them we are going to give them, hopefully quite a nice cheque to say thank you!
Silver Acorn Earrings £90

Where do you see yourself in the next year?  
I would love to sell more collections in 2014 and continue to help to make a difference with the charity Acorn collection.  I would also like to increase my commission work and finish working on my jewellery portfolio which showcases each collection, and thought and ideas for the future.  
Thanks Beth for sharing your work with us, and we wish you continued success for the year ahead!
Kirsty Taylor & Team

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