Tag Archives: Jewellery Diploma

Advanced Jewellery Diploma review – back to school again!

Back in September 2015, after a year of jewellery making in an evening class, I took the plunge and decided to use up a good chunk of annual leave on a two-week Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery Course at London Jewellery School.

Real school wasn’t easy peasy for me. As it turns out, I am a stealth dyslexic who muddled through, mildly stressed-out, until a lecturer found me out through the help of a particularly nonsensical essay. So I was slightly nervous rather than excited going into my two-week staycation learning holiday. I already knew I really enjoyed making jewellery, but had been making my first pieces in a very excited, thankful-it-was-going-well kind of way and was a little undisciplined when it came to perfecting techniques. I still work a little in this manner, cracking on with each new idea, as it’s what I enjoy about making. The structure of this course, with specific days for designing and the various methods of making (and focussing on the different techniques within this), really helped to control my natural inclination to work in a scattered way. Although this course was ideal to rein in and consolidate ideas, I feel it would be equally beneficial to students approaching these weeks looking for creative inspiration.

Having whole days devoted to making was such a treat, I felt like a proper jeweller. All the tutors are practising, exhibiting and selling their work, so the conversations in the classes were often helpful beyond the subject being covered and I felt genuinely encouraged by people who knew their onions.

Speaking of onions… One of the areas where I had little formal training and had practiced at home the least was wax carving and so in that way that it felt that it was stretching me to learn – these two days of designing and making were a little like going back to school. I love the products (or should I say produce) of these days. These bad boys are perfect for me, they are heavy, ridiculous and pun-tastic. The expertise of the tutors was there to make the heavy and ridiculous aspects non-essential qualities of this design. This advice always assumes that you may want to start your own business; these pieces could be made lighter and more wearable and it considers the cost of casting as well as the customer experience of the piece.  I also could not have managed to create such spheres without the patient help of an expert.

Onions

Another thing that attracted me to sign up for this particular course was the prospect of the work placement, usually a week long, that staff will help you to arrange within an area that is of interest to you. I did mine with JC (Just Castings in Hatton Garden) and it was an invaluable insight into the process of casting, CAD design, plating, 3D printing and finishing jewellery to professional standards –but this is another story in itself. I wear the silver ‘haribo’ ring I made there every day. Along with many other pieces from my happy little jewellery holiday.

I would recommend (and have recommended) treating yourself to this course, I signed up after a quick visit to the studios but there are taster classes and you can visit on an exhibition day (next one is 7th July 6.30-8pm, no need to book). Essentially I left the course feeling like I had achieved real goals I didn’t even realise I had at the beginning and with a certificate to prove it!  It also led to the potential to sell my work, something that I have mostly kept in my back pocket until the opportunity to sell through an immersive art show last December presented itself.

Polishing up your potential

The small class sizes at the London Jewellery School means that you get a lot of expert tuition in the classes, making it possible to cover a range of techniques in these weeks. The course description gives a really good idea of what you will learn but here is a quick run through of my experience on the course.

The course starts with a design day, a great chance to think about what you want to make and ways to go about making pieces for the projects ahead. As we were a very small group, we also had time to start experimenting with resin.

Day two was for learning cold connections, truly riveting stuff! This involves looking at ways to join materials without soldering, a great technique for moving pieces or mixed media. I made a decorative hinge that I later used for an oyster card holder, various animal shapes as testers to hold metal pieces together, a technique I later used on a Perspex and sea glass silver ring.

Fold forming was next, a really fun and loud technique for creating shapes and textures through excessive hammering. We made silver origami frogs amongst other experiments (I attempted my usual crane but a simpler design that another student knew was more effective), seen here with the squashed frog necklace. When fold forming goes wrong it can still be pretty interesting (I love this piece but would recommend a simple boat as a fail-safe alternative.)

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The two days of mixed media jewellery making were a total dream of experimenting and resolving ideas through different techniques. Making a sea glass, silver and perspex ring with rivets, a wooden neckpiece with a tube of multi-coloured macramé and perspex fastenings to hang from, some ‘Banana handbag’ earrings and a spirit level cuff. So not a bad haul at all. This was so useful as a chance to explore different materials and how to work with them. Great for exploring colour, shape and using bits and pieces you may not have considered using before.

The two days of stone setting were honing specific techniques that could be employed in any piece after the course and also resulted in 3 wearable items. Each of these techniques was challenging in its own way and I felt that each was improving my making skills in a recognisable way. These were channel, collet and claw settings and pictures of these 3 pieces were posted on the Schools’ Instagram account, a small gesture that was really encouraging, as probably only friends would have seen my work before.

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Bean ring (magic beans for growth)

The last day of the taught course was recycling silver. I had done a little bit of silver recycling before so didn’t expect that going through the process in a structured manner would shed that much light on a technique. However, melting my silver scraps in the crucible on this day produced a really fun ‘Bean’ ring, a product of the natural shape and texture that can be achieved with this technique. I had already made some cast vegetable jewellery so it fits into my little collection nicely and its smoothness makes it distinctly more wearable than my Romanesco Cauliflower ring. One of the tutors recently reminded me to follow up the ‘food jewellery’ and get selling my work. This really illustrated to me how much they genuinely care about nurturing any ambitions you might be trying to shy away from and keep you making jewellery! Magic beans indeed!

Interested in finding out more about the Advanced Diploma in Creative Jewellery? Our next intake is Monday 4th September 2017. Take a look at our website for more information. Have questions? Give us a call on 0203 176 0546

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

 

Diploma in Creative Jewellery – An Alternative to a Degree in Jewellery Making

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It’s Summer time here in the UK and whilst the holidays are in full swing, we are busy getting ready to welcome our new Diploma Students in September for a year of fun, hard work and creativity!  We offer a number of different Diplomas and options here at the London Jewellery School, but our signature Diploma is our 1-Year Diploma in Creative Jewellery which is a great alternative to doing a degree in jewellery, as you can work flexibly around other commitments and work as you spend 1 day a week with us!

This comprehensive Diploma Course is fantastic, as it introduces you to a wide range of jewellery making techniques, both traditional and contemporary, and really helps you to find your jewellery making ‘voice’ and unique style.  The Course will take you from a beginner in jewellery making to a professional standard and focuses on combining a mixture of traditional jewellery skills such as silversmithing, stone setting, wax carving and enamel but is unique also in its focus on more contemporary methods and materials such as resin, perspex, metal clay, fashion jewellery and polymer clay.  Although, the focus is on mastering the technical skills and techniques, over the Course of the diploma you will also learn essential skills for starting and running your own jewellery brand including technical drawing, photographing your jewellery  and a jewellery business day focusing on branding, USP and all the legalities of running your own business.

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Diploma exhibition pieces by Maria Lampitelli, Julia D McKenzie, Maysooun Homsi Touban and Kemi Awokiyesi (in April 2016)

The Course runs over 3 terms of 12 weeks and Classes run 1 day per week with a maximum of 7 students per Class.  Each term, your work will be marked by an expert Tutor and constructive feedback will be given to ensure you are progressing and pushing yourself and your jewellery designs forwards.

We understand that the Diploma is an investment both in time and money, so, we offer 3 flexible payment plans to help you along the way.

We are proud of the fact that our Diploma Course changes the lives of our Students and opens them up to a world of techniques, friendships and experiences.

We have spoken to some our former Diploma Students about their Diploma experience and how they have gotten on since they graduated.  This week we talk to Zoe Porter of Zoe Porter Jewellery and next week we will be hearing from George Galula of GV Jewellery and Linski Kilcourse of Linskiloolar Jewellery!

So Zoe, tell us a bit about how you started your jewellery making journey and what ultimately made you decide to do a diploma with LJS?

I started taking night classes with an incredible Danish jeweller in Wellington to try something new and quickly fell in love with silversmithing. It was a hobby that only developed when I went travelling around Europe for a year and realised how much I missed it. That’s when I started looking into diplomas in Europe and the U.K. and The London Jewellery School offered exactly what I was looking for.

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Zoe Porter Jewellery – Walnut Pendant

What was your favourite part of the diploma?

Learning so many new techniques and processes was great but the work experience I did with Just Castings, Hatton Garden really opened my eyes to a heap of possibilities I hadn’t realised when working with both silver and gold.

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Zoe Porter Jewellery – Pineapple Cufflinks

What was the biggest challenge for you during the diploma?

I had only worked with silver, gold and stones before the diploma, so the mixed media pieces were something I had difficulty with at first. It was however during the design of my final piece that I tried my hand at woodcarving for the first time and really enjoyed it!

What difference has doing the diploma made to your jewellery skills, designs and/ or business?

There were processes I knew nothing about, such as wax carving, that now play an integral part in my design process but one of the most helpful (and simplest) things I learnt was how to recycle silver and gold and make my own wire and sheet metal.

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Zoe Porter Jewellery – Molten Ring

What would you say to students thinking about doing a diploma with the London Jewellery School?

Just do it! The amount you’ll learn and take home from the course is great. Take notes – more than you think – and sit down and practice.

Don’t be scared to make mistakes, you can always melt it down and start over.

Where next for Zoe Porter Jewellery?

I’ve just launched my website and the response has been great. As a certified Fair Trade Gold user I think it’s really important to educate people on where their gold and silver is coming from and I’m hoping to visit Fair Trade mines in Sotrami, Peru, and help raise awareness.

For now, I’m just enjoying myself, working mostly on commissions and loving designing and making a number of engagement rings. They’re really special and personal pieces to be trusted with.

How can we find out more about you (website, Facebook, instagram?)

I sell online via my newly launched website – www.zoeporter.co.nz and I post regularly on Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks Zoe – good luck with your business and we are so thrilled to have played a small part in your jewellery making journey!

Our Diploma Classes are quick to fill up, so book now to avoid disappointment. There is currently availability for September intake 2016. For more details on Course dates and how to enroll, please visit the London Jewellery School website www.londonjewelleryschool.co.uk or call 0203 176 0546.

And due to popular demand we have loaded up the 2017 January and September dates onto our website for those of you who like to plan ahead!

Until next time,

Happy Making! x

Diary of a diploma student: Making my first jewellery business steps

Diploma student Julie McKenzie updates us on her progress and her first jewellery sales

Well, here we are two-thirds of the way through the Diploma in Creative Jewellery. As you may remember I started this course back in January with absolutely no previous experience making any kind of jewellery but thinking it might be something I would enjoy and could potentially make some money to contribute to the family income.

As it turns out I seem to have a real passion for working with silver, metal clay and resin – and fortunately with the passion does seem to be a reasonable ability to actually produce pieces that people want to buy.

I have invested a little bit of money along the way setting up my own workshop at the bottom of the garden, including a kiln which I can use for metal clay, glass fusing and enamelling. I also have to confess that I have pretty much spent every weekday outside the school holidays practising the new skills taught during the diploma – it’s almost as if I have been on a full time jewellery course. This has included making LOTS of mistakes and having to correct them, not always successfully.

As a result though I now have a good collection of pieces which I can use to show case the types of jewellery which I can custom make for potential customers.

In the last couple of months I have had a good start selling some of my jewellery – mainly to friends at this stage but after materials and running costs I have managed to recoup a third of my diploma course fees, which I’m pretty happy with considering I haven’t even finished the course yet.

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Some of the pieces Julie has sold

I have been selling a real mixture of pieces:

  • Sterling silver & fine silver filigree lariat & matching earrings,
  • Sterling silver and resin pendant,
  • Fine silver pendants,
  • Sterling silver & fine silver earrings,
  • Sterling & fine silver charm bracelets,
  • Cufflinks
  • Semi-precious & silver bar/charm bracelets.
  • Sterling silver & fine silver rings
  • Fused glass pendant
  • Sterling silver pendants

Prices have also been quite wide ranging – my cheapest item being £20 to the most expensive of £240.

As this is such a variety of items and prices, I’m still finding it difficult to work out any kind of trending or target products yet. What I enjoy making the most does seem to sell but as they are the more expensive items I need to spend more time thinking about my target market and how to get to them.

And I have only just started stone setting so with a couple of months practising this will open up a whole new window of opportunity.

In the school holidays when it was too difficult to spend any time in the workshop, I have worked in the evening setting up a very basic website, Etsy page, Facebook page and getting to grips with some of the forums on Twitter.

I’ve not had any real success with the online front and this is leading me to the conclusion that I am going to have to find craft markets, places to rent shelves and pop-up shops. Without an established ‘brand’ I get the sense that people want to touch and feel the quality of the jewellery, especially over a certain price bracket. I now feel as if I could at least have a reasonable attempt at trying to put together a business plan for next year- probably not a perfect plan – still with lots untested assumptions but it will be a good starting point.

I am so happy with what I’ve achieved so far – I just love being able to give myself new challenges and spend my day making things. There is something quite satisfying about making jewellery for a customer and seeing their delight when you hand it over to them – AND actually making a little bit of money too.

Meet our diploma graduates

At our recent exhibition of work by Diploma in Creative Jewellery students, we talked to some of the jewellers who had completed the course – you can hear from them and see some of their work in the video below.

Our five diploma programmes

It only feels like yesterday that we launched our first Diploma in Creative Jewellery course. Now we have large number of diploma graduates and for the third year students have just arrived to take the intensive seven week version of the course.

Overall we now have five different diploma courses to help people achieve their jewellery ambitions and perhaps launch a whole new career.

They are:

Diploma in Creative Jewellery (1 Year)

The Diploma in Creative Jewellery is a year-long course combining a vast range of jewellery making techniques, both traditional and contemporary. It is a vocational course with a strong focus on intensive practical learning in a fully equipped purpose-designed jewellery workshop. The course runs over three terms of 12 weeks, classes run one day per week. This Diploma is one of the most comprehensive practical jewellery making courses available.

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Diploma in Creative Jewellery (7 Week Intensive)

This is a 7-8 week intensive version of the year-long course, the Diploma in Creative Jewellery. The diploma course is made up of 6 weeks full-time study with classes Monday-Friday 10am-5pm; 7th week is a full-time week of making and marking. This really is a very intensive course and not for the faint-hearted. You will be supported and challenged to move your jewellery skills up to a professional level in a short space of time.

Diploma in Jewellery Design and Business (20 Weeks)

This Diploma in Jewellery Design and Business is for anyone looking to set up and run a jewellery brand or business where their focus will be on design and business, as opposed to making each piece themselves. It is different to our very hands on Diploma in Creative Jewellery, in that is is all about learning to become a jewellery designer. The process & techniques behind the design process and the ins and outs of building a robust and established jewellery business.

This is a great course for anyone looking to get into the industry, learn about design and production and how to market and sell your products, either on a small or mass scale. You will be taught by industry professionals with years of experience and knowledge to share with you on your way to jewellery business success.

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Diploma in Silver Jewellery (28 Weeks)

This Diploma in Silver Jewellery is an intensive 28 week course, held over two terms, designed to develop the bench skills needed to produce professional silver jewellery. It complements our successful, mixed-media Diploma in Creative Jewellery and is designed to meet the needs of makers who want to focus exclusively on silver. The course will take you from basic silver jewellery skills to being able to design and produce your own collection using a range of techniques and design skills. As with all of our Diploma programmes, this course includes high quality tuition in small groups in a fully-equipped jewellery workshop with an allowance of 20g of silver per applicable class.

 

Advanced Jewellery Diploma (2-3 Weeks)

Take your skills to the next level with this advanced follow-on Diploma course from the Silver Jewellery or Creative Jewellery diplomas. It is an intense two week, technique-based course, that focuses primarily on developing advanced bench-skills in silver work and related development. At the end of the two weeks of training, students take a 5-day placement (which we offer support in finding) in a jewellery related environment. This could be either shadowing a jeweller, working in a jewellery shop or gallery or any other placement offering experience that is relevant to your jewellery aspirations. For those wanting to work in the field, the Advanced Diploma is an excellent progression in personal training.

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To celebrate the launch of our fifth programme – the silver course – we have developed a new website for the diploma programmes with lots of information and an alumni page showing the work of some of our former students.

Why not visit today so find the right course to help you realise your jewellery dreams.

Diary of a Diploma Student: Smiles and scars, the joys of jewellery making

Well here I am 6 weeks into the Diploma in Creative Jewellery  at the London Jewellery School and I have to say so far the course has surpassed my expectations – which were pretty high. To date we have completed: Beginners and Intermediate Beading, Beginners Silver, Piercing/Sanding and Polishing, Intro to Metal Clay and Design Concepts.

The instruction and guidance in each module is a pretty perfect teaching style – we are given an explanation of the craft, a detailed demonstration and then the opportunity to try it yourself with expert supervision.

Being completely new to all kinds of jewellery making, my efforts in the class tend to be a reasonable first attempt but never good enough, in my opinion, to sell or even as a present for my biggest fan – my mum, who loves everything I do’ and I think still has the toilet roll models I made about 40 years ago. However the level of tuition is so good it arms me with sufficient knowledge and confidence to continue to practice the technique at home.

The Metal Clay lesson was probably the biggest surprise. It feels and behaves in a similar way to ordinary modelling clay but once you let it dry, fire it with a torch then ‘hey presto’ you have transformed a piece of clay into a hard solid silver object. It gives you the opportunity to create basic silver 3D designs very easily and is a craft which I think is reasonably accessible to anyone from a skill and cost perspective.

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Silver silhouette pendant

Of all the modules we have completed so far I think my favourite though was our first silver class. There is something very satisfying about being able to hammer and saw a sheet of metal and several hours later you can see the outcome of all your efforts.

I have been practising ‘a lot’ and In the process, I have sanded away pretty much all the nails on my left hand and the top of my finger in fact! Oh and managed to put a fine drill bit through my thumb, fortunately the drill wasn’t actually on – thank goodness.

But even with the battle scars I absolutely love it… I just can’t seem to get enough of it and haven’t stopped smiling the last six weeks!

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Silver ring

Even in such a short space of time I can begin to see how much my work is improving. In fact I even have my first small commission. I’m not sure I can really call it a commission if it’s for a friend but small acorns and all that.

I just love my Monday lessons – Glass this Monday – I can’t wait!

Diary of a diploma student: Stepping into the jewellery unknown

This year we are following the progress of Diploma in Creative Jewellery student Julie McKenzie as she aims to make a career change into the world of jewellery. Here she arrives for her first lesson.

When I arrived for my first practical lesson, I was incredibly nervous.  Week 1 was the Introduction to Beading.

The module notes, which I received a few days before the lesson, sounded, I thought, quite ambitious and I also have to say a bit terrifying – making earrings including ear wires, tassel necklaces and memory bracelets. In a day! Are you sure?

Well this school is very experienced at teaching complete novices and they absolutely know what is achievable and possible in a day.  The London Jewellery School is such a friendly and informal environment, making you feel instantly at ease and therefore relaxed to learn. The other ladies on my Diploma course are lovely too, adding to the relaxed feel of the classes.

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You really learn a lot of techniques very quickly

 

Even though it is a very relaxed atmosphere for the students, the whole set up is very professional and very well organised – all the tools and materials had been set up ready for us to use.  We already had our course notes before we arrived so we were good to go.

Our tutor for the day was Hayley Kruger, who has been in the jewellery business for many years and as we discovered during the day is an absolutely brilliant tutor. The steps of the module were perfect, with Hayley explaining and demonstrating the techniques we needed to learn.  She watched each of us as we began to walk through the steps ourselves.  As the class size is small there’s lots of individual help when needed.

By the end of the day we had in fact managed to make not one but two pairs of earrings including ear wires, two necklaces – one with beads and chain, one with tassels and a memory wire bracelet. I was so proud of my achievements and I really felt I had learnt so much in just one day.

The environment and teaching technique really does allow you to learn quickly.  You are never made to feel inadequate, even if you do make a bit of a ‘dogs dinner’ of it initially.

It is all about trying it, getting it wrong and learning from it.  I love this teaching style – I came away feeling so positive and buzzing to want to do more.

And that is exactly what I did in the following week at home. I continued to practice everything we had been taught and by the end of the week I had perfected my skills to the point of being confident enough to make and WEAR the jewellery I had made.

2015 London Jewellery School prospectus available

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The new London Jewellery School prospectus is now available.

It contains details of more than 80 classes and courses including recent additions and updated workshops such as fold forming, the level 2 five-day silver course, soutache, leather jewellery and the Diploma in Jewellery Design and Business. You can also find out about saving money by booking class packages and about opportunities to use our studios to work on  your own jewellery.

You can request a copy of the prospectus is sent to you in paper or electronic format by emailing info@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk. Please state whether you want an electronic or a paper copy.

 

Absolute beginner to designer jeweller

Hannah Colvin recently completed the Diploma in Creative Jewellery. Here she talks about how she went from complete beginner to a jewellery designer taking commissions in silver and gold in just one year.

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A year ago Hannah had no jewellery experience, now she is working mainly in silver and gold

I have always loved and had a passion for jewellery and its design but I had never made anything before I started the Diploma in Creative Jewellery at London Jewellery School last September.

I really was a complete beginner.

I decided to do the course because I had been at home looking after my three boys for eight years. I wanted a new challenge and a chance to do what I love. And hopefully set up a small but successful business out of it too.

The course has allowed me to put my vision into reality and to make pieces I love. I get so much enjoyment and satisfaction from the process of sketching an idea in my head to finally seeing it finished and being worn.

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Hannah enjoys the process of turning a sketch into a finished piece

From completing the course I have worked out what I really want to focus on which is silver and gold smithing and the fusion of these metals is intrinsic to my style and brand.

I love making bold, simple but very well finished contemporary pieces. I am inspired by nature and very organic forms but also by strong geometric shapes.

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Hannah takes influences from nature as seen in her bud cuff and seed ring

I am also inspired by art in any form and try to translate and fuse the elements I love into my pieces.

It is the combination of these styles into my designs which I hope makes my pieces totally unique.

I am working on several commissions at the moment and also plan to increase my stock in the run up to Christmas. I am working on my website and have been speaking to several boutique jewellery shops to discuss stocking my pieces. I am also working on a new geometric collection which I am very excited about.

I also plan to do the advanced diploma course next year and from there develop a range of kinetic jewellery which has a completely unique relationship with the wearer.

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Bloom pendant

 You can meet Hannah and hear more about her development as a jeweller at the London Jewellery School studio warming and book launch on 16 October. Click here for details.

You can also find Hannah on twitter at @hanniehome and you will soon be able to see more of her work at http://www.hannahcolvin.com.

You can see more diploma students work here.

 

Diploma in Creative Jewellery graduates show off their final collections

Often the students who sign up for the Diploma in Creative Jewellery have only a small amount of jewellery making experience or have previously only specialised in one area such as beading or precious metal clay.

Yet after one day a week over a year (or seven weeks of daily classes  in the intensive course) they are producing work to rival established designers.

Over 20 students took part in the most recent diploma exhibition and we can only share a small selection of the work here. But we are creating a new gallery of diploma student’s work where you will soon be able to see more. Congratulations to all our diploma graduates – we wish them well in the future.

Diploma in Creative Jewellery

Necklace and bracelet by Clio Saskia Thomas

 

Diploma in Creative Jewellery

Cuff by Gaby Connell

 

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Moon inspired jewellery by Wendy Hellam

 

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Hannah Colvin’s bud cuff and seed ring

 

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Mixed media necklace inspired by Thailand by Emma Cartwright

 

Diploma in Creative Jewellery

Cuff by Lindsay Thackrah

 

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Earrings by Haidy Moussa

 

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Earrings by Clio Saskia Thomas

 

If these images have inspired you to develop your jewellery skills, you can find out more about the Diploma in Creative Jewellery here – the course takes one day a week and we regularly run the course at weekends, so it is possible to develop your jewellery career alongside your current job or commitments.

You can also meet former student Hannah Colvin, whose work is featured above, at the London Jewellery School studio warming on 16 October and hear her experiences of the course – click here for details.