Jessica Noble

Jewellery and engineering?

Well there are more parallels than you might imagine…But I don’t necessarily see myself as an engineer, neither do I see myself as a jeweller...

I see myself as a designer, a problem solver and someone who is committed to precision and detail. But most importantly, with Jewellery design I have the chance express my creativity, to let myself be playful and to create things that are not only about precise detail, but about beauty and art too!

So I have the best of both worlds, I am able to get really stuck in to the precision of design, I can spend many hours solving problems,  working out fine tolerances and miniscule mechanisms whilst pushing innovative techniques and processes.  I can learn about material properties and reimagine their boundaries. This side of Jewellery design fulfils the perfectionist in me, and what some might regard as an engineering approach. But there is the other side that I love just as much: Having a way to be artistic, creative and (just occasionally) glamourous. I am lucky to now be building an exciting and fast paced career through Jewellery Design.  I would like to share this with you and I hope to inspire a different take on both the Jewellery and Engineering industries.

It is definitely not all glamour, sparking diamonds and high end shops in my world; most of my time is spent in the workshop. Surrounded by steel tools, roaring flames, bubbling acids and the sound of hammers striking metal, I am as happy as can be. Meanwhile, in my design studio 3D printers are whirring in the background creating my latest prototypes, papers are laid out with sketches, technical drawings, diagrams and notes. Scale models made from paper, clay or wire sit amongst various samples and test pieces. Lining the shelves are boxes of materials that are yet to be explored, from refractive metals like coloured aluminium and titanium, to animal horn, Perspex, resins or rubber. A quick delve and I’m lost to a world new ideas.

Following many years in a pretty boring office career, I found the unexpected opportunity to pursue my lifelong ambition as a designer (and it’s never too late to change direction, take it from me. I’ve never looked back). I formally studied Jewellery for five years and it certainly didn’t stop there. I am still learning more and more every day. I started by taking a City & Guilds qualification at my local college, thinking I would dip my toe in to see if Jewellery Design was for me. Instantly, I was hooked! I went on to take a Jewellery and Silversmithing Degree in London where my eyes where really opened to the phenomenal possibilities for jewellery design.

First going in to the degree, I imagined working on the jewellery that we are all familiar with… you know the type…. A sparkling diamond set on a gold engagement ring or dangling Rubies and Platinum... But my view was soon turned around. Once my imagination had been tantalised with the hugely diverse array of innovate and unusual jewellery designs out there, I began to explore (and still continue to explore) alternative methods of design. I really enjoy challenging what is expected so am always looking for ways to push the limits of convention and how I can adapt materials and invent new processes. 

But it was not just the amazing contemporary designs in the jewellery industry that sparked my imagination. Gazing at London architecture can spark an idea for a sculptural jewellery collection, or seeing the carriages of a train whizz past can leave me thinking about the articulation and movement of the links in a necklace design. Ideas can be drawn from almost anywhere. Take, for example the Heatherwick Studios – the maestros of creative engineering! From curling bridges to spinning chairs, their playful approach combined with clever solutions constantly remind me of what it is all about. 

Armed with this approach to Jewellery Design, I have been on an unpredictable and exciting journey, with many diverse opportunities along the way.  Some of my most exciting projects have come through my exploration of CAD/CAM, and more specifically from 3D printing. I have worked with Denford Ltd, exploring the creative possibilities of their desktop 3D printer, exhibiting the results at the 2012 and 2013 3D Print Show in London. In December 2013 I was hugely honoured to be chosen to design an ‘innovative Christmas Star’ for the Science Museum where I collaborated with Nottingham University and Renishaw plc to create the showpiece design that consisted of 97 printed Titanium stars connected by nylon and carbon fibre. My creative engineering approach is also currently featured in Formula Life Magazine. Focused on the lifestyle and culture surrounding Formula 1, the article draws interesting parallels between my processes and those associated with Formula 1 Cars, like how technology combines with craftsmanship; from current 3D Printing technologies to precise metal work techniques. 
Other opportunities within my career have involved freelance design work, commercial manufacturing as well as designing collections for other brands.  Between 2012 and 2014 I was delighted to have received several awards for innovation, design and craftsmanship and now run my own Jewellery business, where I design and make jewellery collections, exhibit in galleries and shows around the UK as well as designing and making bespoke pieces for private clients. 
I am constantly amazed at the varying opportunities within my industry - There is never a boring day!

I hope that my story not only speaks to those who are leaving school and thinking about their futures, but also to those who seek a change in their career. I hope to inspire women to take a chance and explore the exciting and diverse possibilities in creative engineering. 

You can find a link to my website Jessica Noble Design here: