As a qualified gemmologist my passion for gemstones inspired me to make my own range of bead jewellery. I love the variety of colours and shapes.
My path to taking this qualification was through working in a fabulous, family run, very high quality, antique jewellery shop in Reigate, Surrey. The owner was enthusiastic and interested in the jewellery and the gemstones. He already had his FGA but from the 1960’s, so was very encouraging to have a member of staff achieve a more up to date qualification. I definitely couldn’t have passed without his help. There was a lot of physics to understand about light and colour and a huge amount that needed memorising! The pass rate was 80%, making it a very highly respected qualification.
I passed in 1993 and keep in touch with changes. After qualifying, I learnt how to rethread pearls to a high professional standard. I have been doing rethread work for the trade ever since, which means the standard of finish for my jewellery is also high.
FROM GEMSTONE ENTHUSIAST TO ENTREPRENEUR
The main purpose was to learn how to identify gemstones in their settings, maybe a ring or a brooch, and to tell the difference between a real stone and a man-made simulated stone. There are lots of fakes on the market which obviously makes a difference to the value!
I have worked in jewellery retail for many years. My dream had always been to build a business making my own designs. I am always happiest when keeping my hands busy, previously by making silver jewellery at classes, dressmaking and upholstery.
I first started making the gemstone bead and pearl jewellery in 2005, when I was working locally in a jewellers’ that specialised in silver gemstone jewellery. The owner liked the necklaces I wore, asked me to make some for the shop and I’ve been making ever since!
BIG LIFE CHANGE
Then there was a big change in my life! I met someone new, who renewed my thoughts of living on a canal boat. I was actually born on a boat in Broxbourne on the River Lee. I had lived on boats for 9 years of my childhood and have done a lot of sailing, so I guess it’s in my blood.
In 2015 Alan and I decided we’d change our life by renting out our house in East Grinstead and buying a widebeam 60x10ft canal boat. Narrowboats are usually around 6ft10 wide and we thought a bit more space would suit us better. We thought we’d try it for a year which turned into 4 years!
READY FOR THE BOAT LIFE
Alan is very practical. Whilst I packed up the house getting rid of lots of ‘stuff’, he spent many weekends getting the boat ready for off-grid living with solar panels and a full 12v power supply from the battery bank. The boat was very smart with diesel heating, two bedrooms (one was my workshop as it had a built in work desk) and a lovely shower in the bathroom, which also had an automatic washing machine. Alan also adapted an engine crane to swing our 1000cc motorbike into the bow well! That gave us transport when needed. Most of our friends thought we were mad but we did it! We took the cat with us too. She adapted well and loved checking out each new mooring.