City Lit Blog

Emily Bedford, Jeweller and City Lit bursary recipient

Story added 25th Feb 2020

Emily Bedford working in her studio


"The best thing about City Lit is the ethos of total inclusivity with an infectious passion for learning, combined with an extremely high standard of teaching, in particularly for jewellery." Emily Bedford.

Emily began studying at City Lit several years ago, starting on short courses in jewellery and progressing onto the year-long qualification: City & Guild in Jewellery design. With support from the City Lit student bursary, she was able to pay for her courses. In this article, she explains how the student bursary helped her with her career to become a jeweller.

What is the best thing about receiving the bursary?
The best thing about the student bursary was that it meant I could fund the course, simple as that. Without it, I would have struggled to enrol. I borrowed the fees from the college and as the course went on I paid it back in instalments, this pushed me to see if I could pay for each instalment with money I accrued purely from jewellery sales and after a while that took off so it was a great challenge for me. My jewellery studies were paid for by my jewellery sales.

Tell us about who you were before coming to City Lit and how studying at City Lit has changed you?
Before coming to City Lit, I had made jewellery and sold it through around 12 various shops and galleries around the UK and in Japan. It was a very haphazard enterprise with no focus or real structure, I just made what I wanted and hoped that I could sell it. When I came to City Lit, I learnt to create a collection, from concept to completion. I learnt to create a story and develop my own ‘artistic language’. I aimed to be a jeweller whose work could be recognised, previously I was content making generic items but this course really pushed my design ideas. Aside from that, the City and Guilds course taught me solid techniques, I am a jeweller who wants to make as well as design and there lies my passion, I learnt some great practical bench skills, which were a good foundation to my business.

What is the best thing about City Lit?
The best thing about City Lit is the ethos of total inclusivity with an infectious passion for learning, combined with an extremely high standard of teaching, in particularly for jewellery.

Emily Bedford in her studio

What was the dynamic like on the courses you have taken?
The course I took covered many areas of the jewellery industry, we were taught by tutors who were specialists in disciplines such as stone setting, wax carving, chain making, enamelling and ring making. We also kept a sketchbook and were expected to give talks about our work to small groups. Some of us set up selling events alongside the curriculum, which gave me extra income to continue on the course.

How have the courses transformed your approach? Has it helped you with mapping out your future goals in any way?
The course lead me to win an award from NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continued Education) in the category ‘Learning for Work’ in recognition of my business success after having studied at the college, the award covered London and the South East of England and gave me a lot of encouragement. I then went on to take a year course at The Goldsmiths’ centre London which is the UK’s leading charity for the professional training of Goldsmiths. I don’t think I would have passed the interview had I not taken 2 years of study at City Lit.

What are you currently working on?
I currently have my own studio in King’s Cross and I work as freelancer helping other jewellers on their pieces and taking care of repairs and refurbishments. This gives me great satisfaction; it is the human stories behind people’s jewellery that fascinate me the most. I love the idea of a piece of jewellery having a significant meaning to someone and being repaired and cherished and it lasting over time. I also get a huge amount of joy in improving my own skills and getting better at my craft. That is why I want to help other jewellers achieve their goals and help them produce their own collections; because I know what it is like to not be sure of how to get something of the ground at a reasonable cost.

What are your future plans? 
My plans are to carry on building my sales and maybe do a show this year; I have just started working together with my partner and I am looking to take on another person within the next year. I have been very lucky to have a friend who is a master craftsman who is passing his knowledge and skills onto me, you need that in this industry, and I want to do the same for someone else. 

Discover Emily’s work.

Jewellery, Emily Bedford

All images courtesy Emily Bedford.

Find out more about our jewellery courses

Our jewellery courses are led by a team of qualified, specialist tutors. Our one-to-one teaching approach and small class sizes will help you to quickly develop your technical skills and enable you to experiment with different materials and techniques. Our custom-built jewellery studio means that you will be able to learn using quality, industry standard equipment within a creative environment. 

Discover our upcoming courses.

 

City Lit Student Bursary

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Bursary facts and figures

• 90% progressed in their career or personal development

• 75% of students who have received a bursary said their confidence in learning increased

• 70% of students said their bursary-supported course reduced their stress levels

• 65% of students say that receiving the bursary has improved their mental wellbeing, they feel able to progress to whatever the next step in life is for them