Meet Natalie...

How long have you been making jewellery and how did you first get into being a designer?

I started making jewellery about 2 years ago, as a lockdown hobby. I have always been crafty and after dabbling with everything from mosaics to paper crafts, I started making little wire Christmas decorations. I fell in love with forming shapes with the wire so I then started wire wrapping some of the pebbles and sea glass that I’d collected for my box frames and was quickly hooked! I always found another craft to try but once I started wire wrapping, I knew I could never tire of it… there is always another technique to learn and improve on and if I wasn’t making something every night, I would get restless, itchy fingers! Wire wrapping crystal gemstones became my “me time” I found it really good for my mental health and it gave me a bit of an identity outside of being a mum. It’s become my passion and obsession.

How would you describe your personality/style and how does that feed through into your jewellery designs?

I’m a hippy witch! I love crystal gemstones and enjoy learning about the geology and geography of where they are found and the attributed properties of each one. I let the stone inspire each piece: would the colour look best in copper or silver wire? What weave would look best and support the shape of the stone? Then I get lost in the flow of the wire and each of my pieces become unique just like each crystal is unique. I like to create flows of swirls, almost filigree in appearance. I like to create coils on certain pieces, but not really “heady” designed pendants.

What do you love about Jewellerymaker and how long have you been part of the 'JM family'?

I started watching Jewellerymaker, shortly after starting my jewellery making obsession. It’s hugely important to me that my stones are ethically sourced as I feel I can’t put good intentions into my pieces and celebrate the stones properties and spiritual attributes, if they are not sourced in a way that ensures the landscape and workers are protected. Jewellerymaker does all that hard work for me to ensure those high standards, so I can buy the most beautiful high quality products, for amazing value with a clear conscience. Watching also introduces me to new products and provides great inspiration when deciding what jewellery to create.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start making jewellery for the first time?

Do it. Now! Just give it ago and practice your basics, such as turning loops. You don’t need a huge budget to get started, you’ll find an area of jewellery making that you enjoy (and there are so many techniques to master) and you can get the tools you need as you go. I started using a cheap little set of pliers and cutters and still use these often. If you wear them out or become as obsessed as I am, then you can invest in some better ones. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There is no such thing as failure if you learn from it and sometimes things you don’t intend to do can work out really well or make you change up your original design or concept for the better. Also watch Jewellerymaker, the designers are amazing at giving tips and providing inspiration.

What are your 'Can't live without them' jewellery making tools, and why are they so special?

Round nose pliers are a must for creating swirls and bent nose are really handy when securing wire into small spaces and useful for compressing your weaving wire as you go to keep it neat. Nylon coated pliers are great too, if you straighten out your wire before you start, it will give your piece a cleaner finish.

If you could choose what gemstones and components you were given for this heat of the competition, what would you pick and why?

Any type of gemstone cabochon I find most versatile and enjoy working with. Some basic findings such as claps, jump rings or earring hooks would also be great as it will give us lots of free reign to design something with.

Have you been recognised anywhere else for your jewellery designs eg magazine articles, competitions, or greatest jewellery making achievements?

I completely changed my job and my life a year ago and started to work for a beading company, so now do live tutorials 2 -3 times a week so I guess thousands of people have now watched me on Youtube, which is very bizarre and I try not to think about that when actually doing the live otherwise I’d probably get really nervous and couldn’t make for my hands shaking! I’ve also had some written tutorials published for a wire wrapping magazine based in the USA and online. My best jewellery making achievement so far though has been getting this far in the Britain’s Next Gem competition and getting to visit the studio. It’s been really exciting and I’ve got to meet some amazing jewellery makers and presenters.

What was your favourite /best purchase from Jewellerymaker and why?

I’d have to say the 10cts Green Firing Welo Opal smooth round strand, the play of colour in each one is just mesmerising. I was also really lucky to get some of the most beautifully cut Moldavite. I couldn’t believe how reasonably priced it was, so had to get as many as I could afford to at the time! It’s stunning and of cause because it’s from JM it’s genuine. There are so many sellers online selling fake Moldavite recently, so being able to purchase it with peace of mind was a huge bonus.

What would it mean to you to win Britain's Next Gem?

It would mean the absolute world to me to win Britain’s Next Gem. I suffer greatly from imposters syndrome and this would validate me as a jewellery designer and prove that changing my career was the best decision I could have made. It would give me confidence in myself and my work to know that it’s not just something that I enjoy but that others appreciate and approve of my work as well and that would mean an awful lot to me. To have the opportunity to work with Jewelleymaker and gain their expertise and support would be a dream come true.

Contestants Picks