Tag Archives: Jewellery Diploma

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.

silver jewellery by Julie MacKenzie

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.


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.

silver diploma Collage

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.

dip site

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.

jewellery diploma

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!

jewellery diploma course

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.

begiiners beading class

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

jewellery classes

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.

jewellery diploma

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.

jewellery diploma student work

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.

diploma in creative jewellery

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.

diploma in jewellery student work

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


diploma in creative jewellery

Moon inspired jewellery by Wendy Hellam


diploma in creative jewellery

Hannah Colvin’s bud cuff and seed ring


diploma in creative jewellery

Mixed media necklace inspired by Thailand by Emma Cartwright


Diploma in Creative Jewellery

Cuff by Lindsay Thackrah


diploma in creative jewellery

Earrings by Haidy Moussa


dploma in creative jewellery

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.


Sunday is the perfect day for jewellery making

Is Sunday your jewellery and crafting day?

sunday crafting

Here at London Jewellery School HQ we’ve noticed that a lot of people post pictures of what they’ve made to our Twitter and Facebook streams on Sundays, which makes us think a lot of you are busy turning your day of rest into a day of making. And what better way to destress from a busy week than having some “me time” with a pile of beads, some silver or an interesting collection of resin, leather or even Perspex elements?

We’ve also noticed that there are lots of blogs and Pinterest boards about jewellery and making which either mention Sundays or include it in their title.

So we’ve decided to get in on the act by adding a new day to our Diploma in Creative Jewellery courses. You can now take your Sunday jewellery making up a notch by taking this year-long course to develop your range of jewellery skills across beading, wire, silver, and mixed media as well as honing your design skills.

jewellery diploma

Work by previous Diploma in Creative Jewellery students


You can find out more about what the Diploma in Creative Jewellery involves here. The next Sunday course starts on Sunday 21 September 2014.

jewellery making, jewellery diploma

And whenever your “making me time” is please share links to pictures of your work in the comments.

Happy making.


Student spotlight: Kate Korn

Kate Korn is among our first cohort of students to graduate from the Diploma in Jewellery Design and Business. The attendance for this course is one day per week for twenty weeks and has been devised so that term one focuses on jewellery design and term tow focuses on jewellery business.

Kate talks about her experiences of the course and what she’s planning to do next.

How did you get into jewellery making?

I found my passion for jewellery when I discovered Swarovski Crystals. Initially I was creating accessories for myself and my closest friends, experimenting with a variety of materials and techniques, getting my ideas from many sources and learning to form unique pieces according to my own taste. It was an eye-opening experience when many people showed an interest in my work and asked to buy pieces. It has been a slow but steady process of growth, dedication and belief in my life’s destiny.

Since those days I have launched a number of diverse collections and individual works, from simple everyday wearables through stylish wedding sets to bold catwalk accessories. Bringing all these pieces to life gives me the purest form of joy and excitement and has established my own style. Nowadays, after graduating from jewellery diploma courses at the Metropolitan University and London Jewellery School, I’m continuing my career working from studios in London Battersea and Hatton Garden.

I remain devoted to my beloved Swarovski Crystals in conjunction with sterling silver, and other metals and textures although recently my attention is turning to natural stones and materials. I pay great attention to detail from inception through to the completion of each piece or collection.

crystal jewellery

Kate’s unusual use of crystals includes her range of “crystal ties”

What did you do before setting up your jewellery business?

My background is in fashion design, specialising in shoes and bags.

I have worked in many different sectors but only felt real passion when I started to design and produce jewellery around six years ago.

How did the course help you develop your business?

During the business course I have developed a broad knowledge of business operations as well as gaining targeted skills in the specific field, such as customers, markets, finance, operations, strategy, business policy, communications and IT.

I gained many valuable transferable skills which can be put to use in both everyday life or in my jewellery  career path.

Where can we buy your jewellery?

I’m new on the market and in the process of opening an online store although my collections are available on my website www.kornjewellery.com

What advice would you give someone thinking of starting a jewellery business?

Believe in yourself and what you love doing and be brave to share your passion with the world. Gain knowledge from multiple sources. Work hard, take nothing personally and if something blocks one route, find another. Never give up.


The next intake for the Diploma in Jewellery Design and Business is January 2015. Is it time for you to take your business seriously and join us?