The Jill Graham Jewellery brand revolves around my name, so what better way to kick off this trend by introducing myself 🥰
#marchmeetthemaker Day 1 — Branding
I thought it would be appropriate to start of by telling you a little about myself, and how I ended up becoming a jewellery designer.
I was born on 22nd October 1980 in Tyrone, Northern Ireland, the youngest of four with 3 older brothers!
As you can imagine I spent a lot of my childhood playing with tractors and tools, I was a real tom boy! As the only girl I was the little princess in the eyes of my parents, my mum loved putting me in dresses and pretty girly things (I hated it).
As a young child I loved arts and craft, spending my time making pictures, not always on paper! My mum used to go mad at me drawing pictures on the walls. She always knew who the guilty party was as I used to sign my name under all my artwork.
When I reached secondary school I would spend every minute in the Art room often skipping P.E and lunch to work on my art. I would do my best friends art homework as a swap for them doing my English.
I had other hobbies. I loved swimming and was a real water baby swimming for a local club. I also loved sailing, crewing for a family friend many a summer day on his yacht.
“There is nothing like being out on the sea on a sunny day with the wind in the sails, one of the best feelings in the world”
After finishing secondary education I did a 2 year foundation course in Art and design spending time in all the different disciplines including ceramic, print, photography and textile. During this time I loved textiles, even getting a sewing machine for my 18th birthday, which I logged around with me everywhere.
I decided I wanted to go to university in England (As a teenager who wanted to get away from parents and brothers). I applied to universities for textile design and headed off with my rucksack for a week of interviews. I was accepted for all my textile courses and while making this decision I started experimenting working more with metals and making accessories.
One of my lecturers suggested I would be more suited to a degree in Silversmith and jewellery as I was very talented in this area, so with a quick change in course I was on the boat to Loughborough university in England.
My time at university was typical of every student, with 3 years of partying and copious amounts of alcohol but I also graduated top of my year in 2002.
While at uni I spent my summers working as an apprentice (or as my boss used to call me “slave girl”) for a goldsmith at home in Ireland. I learned valuable skills during this time which has stood me well through my career.
After graduation I moved to Belfast and lived in a house with 3 mates and got a job in a craft gallery where I learned a lot of essential business skills. After seeing how it was all done I decided I wanted to setup my own business, I took the plunge in 2003 and setup a small workshop in my parents garage and started JeGila Design making jewellery with resin, silver and real flowers. While working in a school as a technician.
In 2005 I give up my job I took an artist and residence post for a year by the sea in the foot of the Mournes in Co Down and started designing and working silver and gold. I launched Jill Graham Contemporary Jeweller.