Eleanor Clifford is part of our Bespoke Design Team, working as both a jewellery designer and Goldsmith in our Southampton jewellery workshop. She’s tasked with bringing an array of jewellery dreams to life and here we find out a little bit more about why she loves bespoke designs…
Describe your role in a nutshell
I work in our Jewellery Workshop in Southampton and can be busy with a whole range of things. I may be working on repairs, restorations, alterations or making pieces from scratch and designing them. I personally love having loads of different things on the go at the same time – it certainly keeps it interesting!
Why did you want to work in jewellery design?
I’ll be completely honest with you – I’ve always enjoyed making a mess, it’s my greatest joy! The fact that I can wreak havoc in the process of creating something beautiful that someone will treasure forever makes me so happy. It’s amazing to see the finished product emerge from the (slight) chaos.
When I started college I worked part-time for a couple who were both jewellers. They trained me up and allowed me to run wild in the workshop. This was definitely the best way to learn and I could really explore and build on my skills.
From there, I went on to study Jewellery and Silversmithing at Birmingham City University. I studied to HND and then degree level, focusing on design and how to actually create the pieces, learning about hand-making techniques and CAD (Computer Aided Design). Throughout my degree and once I’d finished I worked in another group of workshops and gained hands-on experience in repairs and working with antique jewellery.
When I moved to Southampton I was thrilled to find the Laings workshop. I knew that it was exactly where I wanted to be… and here I am!
How do you work with the team on designs?
I’m joined in the workshop by Georgia Huxted and David Roux. We’ve all had different experiences within the industry – this means we can bounce ideas off each other and look at different techniques and ways to approach perhaps more complicated designs. Certain pieces that we create can be a bit of a puzzle and working our way through it is an aspect of my career that I find really exciting. Every day is a learning curve.
From start to finish every day is completely different from the one before. You can never guess what interesting (and sometimes strange) things are going to appear in the workshop that day.
We can be doing anything from ring re-sizing to putting the finishing touches to a piece, or starting from the beginning and coming up with new ideas for customer designs.
How do you take a bespoke design project from start to finish?
It always starts with an initial discussion, this can be through a meeting with the client myself or one of the store team take notes and passing them along. This gives us a better idea of what they require and what type of bespoke design they are looking for.
From there, I tend to do some preliminary sketches. We can then discuss these ideas and narrow things down to a more accurate render of the design. Once the design is decided and the stones are sourced we will work out the best production method – be that hand-making or CAD. And then it’s not long until the final piece is produced and the customer received the design they were dreaming of.
My favourite jobs are the ones I can work on by hand at the bench. You get a real feel for the piece, it’s so traditional and I love it!
What’s your most memorable work moment?
A few years ago I was given a pair of sterling silver antique opera glasses that were missing a handle. I had to design, re-make and fit a new handle that was in keeping with the style. It was definitely a challenge, but an exciting one to work on and it was extremely satisfying to restore such an amazing piece.
What’s the best part of the job?
It has to be seeing the progression of each piece. You really see it coming to life as it goes from a sketch on a piece of paper to a complete piece of jewellery. There’s something just a little bit magic about it.
Thank you for taking the time to meet Eleanor from our Bespoke Design Team. Follow our latest news on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, or if you have any questions please pop us an email at email@example.com.