Designer creator Kate Thorley holds a two colour gold and sapphire ring in her hand and watches as the light catches the sparkling gems. This piece is special to her for many reasons – not least because, together with fellow jeweller Zoe Youngman, she designed it.
In fact Kate and Zoe are the faces behind the company Nest Creates which makes bespoke jewellery to order and has this year launched a ready-to-wear collection.
The two women, who have more than 20 years experience of the business between them, were working at Birmingham City University’s Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre when they decided to strike out on their own.
“We were working with all these companies in the jewellery trade providing designs and ideas for them and we suddenly thought ‘why are we doing all this work for other people when we could be doing it for ourselves?’” says Zoe, aged 33, from Leamington Spa.
“And because we had worked so long in the industry and had been providing information about things like start-up and markets to other people we already had contacts with business organisations.”
Furthermore both women had been creating one-off pieces for friends and family over the years so decided to pool their efforts.
Kate, aged 36 from Smethwick, studied jewellery and silversmithing at Birmingham School of Jewellery before working as a maker and designer for Hockley-based Cookson Precious Metals, setting up a division for its factory in Mauritius. She holds a host of awards including the prestigious international Gold Virtuosi and has seen one of her designs worn by actress Helena Bonham Carter.
Zoe studied jewellery and silversmithing at Edinburgh College of Art and worked in Edinburgh’s Assay Office, on a design project in Norway and for a Leeds-based retailer before joining Kate at the JIIC in Birmingham.
The majority of their work is created to order.
The women work closely with local suppliers and artisans to ensure their jewellery is British made. At the moment they work out of bases in Smethwick and Leamington but are hoping to find somewhere more Birmingham-based in the future. And they are also aiming to support and promote other local jewellers. Hence the name Nest Creates.
“We like the idea of feathering a nest which can then be a base for something creative and the idea of a magpie collecting glittering things,” says Zoe. “In the long-term we want to be talent-spotting and incubating new talent.”
* For more information see www.nestcreates.co.uk or call 01926 773926