Jewellery maker Niyanta Shah has self taught herself beadweaving and wire wrapping. She has also taken courses for jewellery design & drawing, as well as wedding jewellery and tiara making at The London Jewellery School. She loves making delicate and dainty jewellery but wouldn’t say no to big and bold either. Learn more about this month’s Designer of the Month below
Let us know a bit about yourself, detailing your background, study and training in the jewellery making industry.
I left school with average grades and got into a mediocre university to obtain a degree, then fell into a job I didn’t find fulfilling but it paid the bills. I kept feeling there was more to life. Two years ago I made the brave decision to quit my job because I had found a true passion for beaded and wire gemstone jewellery! I took lots of courses to learn as much as I could.
My favourites were Jewellery design and drawing and Wedding Jewellery and Tiara making from the prestigious London Jewellery School based in the heart of London’s world-famous Hatton Garden. I also learnt a lot from some very generous teachers on YouTube, they taught with such passion that I would watch hours of their videos. It was like the current trend of binge-watching a series on Netflix! I was hooked!
Tell us about your work – are there any particular materials or techniques that you favour?
I love to use gemstones and beads. My favourite techniques are to wire wrap gemstones on earrings and beaded fringe earrings. You’ll find a lot of my photos on Instagram feature these two techniques.
How would you best describe your design style?
I’m still learning about my unique style and therefore love to try everything out! Currently, I’m loving the technique to layer rows of beads for necklaces and lariats. It’s almost an art deco style and I love the rich, decadent look you can achieve, reminds me of the 1920s, think Downton Abbey!
Where do you like to get your inspiration from for your pieces?
I’m a big fan of Bollywood and I’m a British Indian so I take my inspiration from all things BritAsian. A bit of Downton Abbey, some Bollywood glam, and I’ll occasionally look at current jewellery trends but also anything that pops into my head which can be a little haphazard since I love to daydream and think of holidays or weddings and parties.
Do you have a piece that you have made which you favour or are particularly proud of?
Oh gosh, that’s like asking a parent to choose their favourite child (I imagine as I don’t have kids) but this gold bracelet has to be it. She is 5 years old and is one of the first luxury looking items I made. It’s made with gorgeous itty bitty beads and some swoon-worthy Swarovski pearls and has a Swarovski crystal charm heart. It’s my current hero piece, it reminds me of my skills and abilities and where I began.
What is the one item in your jewellery making workshop that you could not live without?
At the moment it’s the Tulip beading needles. They are super flexible and strong too. Others are available and I’ve tried generic non branded ones as well as those by John James but the ones by Tulip seem to be the best.
What upcoming trends do you see being popular soon?
This year has been a stinker for everyone and at the end of the year, I think Christmas is going to be big on memorable gifts, such as thinking of you, or DIY your jewellery so kits and keepsake jewellery could be big! We’re all staying at home and making presents to ourselves this year. It saves all the trips to the shops and unwanted returns.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from your time in the jewellery making industry?
Every mistake can be a lesson if you let it. There have been many times I’ve spent hours working on a project only to make a mistake in a crucial step right near the end. In the early days, I would despair at my silliness and get so frustrated at myself. It’s a lot of time and effort that goes into designing and making. Eventually, I learnt to see the wisdom in making mistakes.
We can’t get anywhere without taking steps and even though one or two might be a trip or a slip we are still where we are and we got there with the mistakes as well as the successes. It’s also helped me to see that I am more experienced now thanks to those mistakes and what I learnt from them.
Do you have any particular advice that you would give to up and coming jewellery designers, or someone interested in getting into jewellery making?
Yes, I would say go for it and do what you love. If you constantly think about it, dream about it and talk about it then it’s calling you! Learn everything you can, even from yourself and don’t be afraid to try all the techniques until you find your true happy place. It can be expensive but you can start with many pieces at home that you already have.
For example, I used to remake my own jewellery that I’d bought from the high street. I’d take it apart and see how it was made then watch a YouTube video to learn how to put it back together again. Be creative and more importantly, have fun!
Finally, time for a bit of fun in our quick-fire round!
Tell us your favourite…
Colour – Blue – most of my clothes seem to be blue – oops
Biscuit – Nice Biscuits
Drink – Pimms, or Coffee if I’m driving
Place – Anywhere in nature
Animal – Elephant
Gemstone – Rose Quartz
Food – Cheesecake, though I never get to eat any!
Sport – Cricket
Film – Anything Harry Potter
City – London – it’s where home is
Many thanks to Niyanta for being our Designer of the Month this month and for sharing this information
Want to discover the work of other jewellery makers?