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My training story: jewellery design

Many of us have dreams of retraining. Second careers are becoming increasingly common, whether as a complete change or as a way of bringing in another income alongside your day job.

Jade O'Donoghue
12th February 2016
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If you’ve landed here on Training and Courses, the chances are you have ambitions to do the same and we’re here to help with that – not only to find your perfect course but to show you it is possible to return to the classroom as an adult and try your hand at something completely new.

That’s why we decided to sit down with Nicky McQuarrie who is taking the Level 1 Jewellery Diploma with The London Jewellery Workshop. Her story is one many can relate to – having devoted a lot of time to her children, with them all now in school her focus has turned back to herself and retraining and learning something new.

We caught up with her to find out just what the course was like...


Hi Nicky! So what exactly is it you’re studying then?

I am studying the Jewellery Diploma, Level 1. The course teaches a wide range of jewellery making skills ranging from stone setting to casting, together with the design process involved in creating your own unique jewellery.  The course is one day a week for six hours and at the end you receive a diploma which is self-certified by The London Jewellery Workshop.


What made you decide to do it?

I have always had an interest in handmade jewellery and at various stages have considered taking it further but not got round to it, so when my youngest child started full time education I thought now would be a good time to give it a go.


What is a typical lesson like?

A typical lesson involves a review and discussion of the homework from the previous week and then a demonstration of a new skill which we then get to try out for ourselves.


And what about your classmates? Are they from similar backgrounds?

There are only six people doing the course at any one time, which is great because you get far more personalised feedback and assistance.  My classmates are a completely varied bunch with a variety of ages and backgrounds ranging from a make-up artist to a Welsh teacher.  We are all very supportive of each other and have very different styles.


Wow, mixed group then! What’s your teacher like?

Yes! The tutors are very experienced, helpful and encouraging.  They do let you get on with it and learn from our own mistakes sometimes too.


So would you recommend it to others?

I would definitely recommend the course to others.  It is a fantastic feeling to be able to create something and makes you look at the world differently.  You see shapes and designs in everything you lay your eyes on.



Is there anything you find particularly hard about the course? 

The hardest part is when things just go wrong and for some fairly inexplicable reason you can’t quite get something, but persistence and practice is the key.  I think probably each of us has had a week like that where things just don’t go quite right.


What has been the most fun part?

The design process.  I think this is the area I was most concerned about, thinking I didn’t have the imagination or creativity to do it.  The way in which you are taught design is fascinating and shows you how to collate ideas from everything around you and how to develop these into a design.  For one project piece we had to get inspiration from the British Museum and my design ended up being based on the decoration on the side of the lift shaft.


So the big question, what will you do with your new found knowledge when you’re finished?

At the moment I am not sure what I will do with my new found knowledge! But I do know that there are so many more techniques I want to learn and will definitely be taking it further...


That’s great to hear! Thanks Nicky. If you’ve been inspired to take a course in jewellery, have a look at the full range available here.

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