How to become a jewellery designer. Niamh's story

Meet Niamh, 19, from Maidstone. She's a jewellery maker for Tatty Devine whose jewellery is designed in London and handmade in Kent. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Niamh in the jewellery making workshop.
"I did creative subjects because I knew I wanted to do something creative in the future."

What is your job?

I use materials like perspex, leather and wood to make jewellery. Every week we get a new making schedule and target, and work our way through the schedule to achieve it.

What skills do you use in your job?

A lot of attention to detail is needed because it can be a bit fiddly, so you need good hand-eye coordination. We also need a lot of teamwork, because we have to work together to achieve our shared goals. Time management is important, because we have deadlines to work to. Good communication between departments is also important.

What subjects did you study at school?

At GCSE I chose History, Textiles and Art, and at A-level I did Art, English Literature and History. I did about a year and a half at sixth form, and then I applied for this job and left sixth form to come here! I really struggled towards the end of A-levels – I lost a lot of enthusiasm, and I lost a bit of inspiration in art too. Looking back on it, I probably would have been better off doing something like college, that’s why it was better for me to leave sixth form and start a job instead.

How did you get into your job?

I followed the company on social media for quite a while, and they posted that they needed a jewellery maker. I saw that the studio wasn’t far from me, so I applied. I showed my A-level coursework as a portfolio as part of my application.

Niamh making jewellery in the workshop.
Niamh making jewellery in the workshop.

Top tips

  • It’s a common misconception that all creatives are broke and can’t find work. There are so many ways to do it, and there will be something out there

  • Do what you love and don’t give up on what you want to do.

What to expect if you want to be a jewellery designer

  • Jewellery designer/maker: £15,000 to £50,000 per year
  • Jewellery designer/maker working hours: 40 to 42 hours per week
  • Typical entry requirements: There are foundation degree, higher national diplomas and degrees, which can prepare you for a career as a jewellery designer/maker. For example, you could study Jewellery Design, 3D Design Crafts or Art and Design. You’ll need a foundation studies diploma in Art and Design and A-levels (or equivalent) for a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree. You may be able to start in this job through an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in:

  • jewellery silversmithing and allied trades: manufacturing

  • jewellery silversmithing and allied trades: silversmithing
    The British Academy of Jewellery offers apprenticeships in jewellery manufacture and design across England.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Meet Eddy
video
Meet Gemma
Meet Anh
video