Following quite a run of interviews with experienced and well-known jewellers, today we talk to Priya, who is fresh from her course at the Birmingham School of Jewellery; Jewellery by Priya is the name of her fledgeling business.

Hi Priya, would you like to tell the Guild of Jewellery Designers how did you get started in jewellery designing/making?

I started 4 years ago partaking in an evening course at the Midland Art Centre, I continued with this for 2 years, before taking up the full time National Diploma at Birmingham School of Jewellery.  At the time I had given up an established career in teaching, to follow my dream, so I must have really loved designing and making jewellery!

What was the piece that made you think “yes, I can do this”?

My ‘first born’ called ‘Street Scene’.  I spent many stressful long hours during it’s creation but when it was complete, it got plenty of admiration; so I knew I had talent.

Tell us about your training

I trained at Birmingham School of Jewellery.  My tutors on the course were very knowledgeable and I tried to learn as much as possible during my time there.  The course provided me with the basic hand skills needed to work with precious metals.

And where do you work now?

I now work in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.  I share a workshop with other designer/makers as part of the Design Space programme.

Are there any artists or jewellery designers you admire and can you tell us why you admire them?

There are quite a few designers I admire; I suppose not to list them all, I’d have to say Shaun Leane. I love his ability to not only create small intricate pieces of jewellery but his couture body pieces in collaboration with Alexander McQueen.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from various aspects from my life; my cultural and educational background, as well as my interests in fashion, photography and travel.  I enjoy creating architectural and sculptural pieces.  For example, the ‘Dreamer’ was designed around a Moonstone that I had bought while travelling around India. This stone is considered to be a “lovers’ stone”, evoking feelings and protecting the true joys of love. So like the Taj Mahal; which was constructed by a Mughal emperor for his beloved wife, I decided to design and create an architectural piece for my “lovers’ stone”.  A bird’s eye view of the ring represents an open lotus flower which is symbolic in Indian culture and Hinduism.

Have you developed a 'signature' style yet? If you have, how would you describe it?

I don’t really have a signature style at the moment as I am inspired by many things,     However, I would say all my work is 3D and mainly angular.  With time, I’m sure I will find my niche and develop a signature style.

What skill or technique would you like to learn?

I would love to learn how to draw my designs using CAD.  My course was all about ‘handmade’ so I never had the opportunity to utilise this technology.  However, I’m hoping to use CAD for one of my collections.

Which piece are you most proud of - can you tell us the story behind it?

I’m proud of all my pieces, but I suppose the most proud of my ‘Urban Locket’.  I also studied photography and wanted to combine my love of jewellery, photography, and architecture, so came up with this piece.  A locket usually contains photographs of people and holds many memories.  However, for my locket I wanted to steer away from the norm and base it on happy memories I had on nights out with friends in Digbeth, Birmingham.  Each part of the locket was inspired from photographs of street art and architecture found in the area.   

Which of your personality traits comes through in your work, do you think?

My friends’ say that I am a typical ‘Aquarian’ and the fact that I like to be different and stand out definitely comes out in my designs.  I try to create pieces that are visually different using precious metal.  Like my 18K gold pendant, which was inspired by Art Nouveau, even being classed as fine jewellery, I still managed to incorporate a 3D structural aspect.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on two collections under Jewellery by Priya.

My ‘Urban’ collection is based on my ‘Urban Locket’ which is inspired by street and public art, architecture and photographs from my travels.

The other collection is called the ‘Blue Lotus’, and is contemporary jewellery with an Asian aesthetic.

The idea came about during a visit to India, where after looking through various fashion magazines, I’d noticed a change in Indian fashion due to Western influences and designers such as Manish Arora. So I decided to make a contemporary version of traditional Asian jewellery.

Inspired by the repetitive motifs seen in Indian architecture, the collection will be made in silver but I will also incorporate gold and Pearls into the designs.  All Indian jewellery is flat so I’ve designed my collection to take on a 3D form.  My collection is designed for anyone who has a passion for contemporary jewellery.

Where do you see yourself/your work in 1/5/10 years?

My career intention is to develop my jewellery business, Jewellery by Priya, which I’ve just set up, into a sustainable and successful business within the next 3 years.  Within the first 3 years I would like my pieces to be stocked in galleries in the UK.  In time I would like my jewellery to be instantly recognized at first glance and stocked in galleries worldwide.

As a practitioner, I want to keep learning and developing my skills so thereby creating new and interesting collections.  Not only would I like to develop myself as an independent designer-craftsman but also as a community-based jewellery artist.

Where can we see more of your work?

You can see my work online on my website jewellerybypriya.co.uk or on my Facebook page

From November 15th my ‘Urban’ collection will be available at the We Are Birmingham Shop in Birmingham City Centre.  My work can also be seen at the ‘open studios’ event on December 11th at the Design Space studios as part of Brilliantly Birmingham.

I am also hoping to take part at 'The Angel Christmas Fair' in London.

My ‘Blue Lotus’ collection will be on sale at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate in April 2011.

Any further developments will be posted online.

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