Graduate Stories: Susannah King

Graduate Stories: Susannah King

Having grown up with a jeweller for a father, Susannah King always knew that she had a passion for jewellery. In 2017, she began her journey at the British Academy of Jewellery, studying jewellery manufacturing and design, before going on to take a BAJ CAD course. She now runs her own jewellery brand in London.

Photo: Paul Martyniuk

Specialised in handmade fine and demi-fine pieces featuring precious and semi-precious gemstones, Susannah King Jewellery is the first vegan jewellery brand in the UK. Its core values include celebrating craftsmanship and individuality.

BAJ sat down with Susannah to talk about her achievements and inspirations, as well as her experiences studying at the academy.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I really enjoyed showing my jewellery at London Fashion Week. I showed twice in the Jewellery Cut Showroom, and it was such an experience. But I think the most exciting thing that’s happened in my career is that my first overseas stockist is going to be in New York, and it will be Paul Smith. I am so excited because it’s the first very big stockist that I have gained for my collection, and that just means so much to me.

What advice would you give yourself at the start?

If I could give myself advice for the start of my journey into jewellery, I would definitely say, “don’t rush yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.” Because you’ll soon learn that your journey is unique, your experience is totally unique. Even if you’re making similar products to someone else, or providing similar services, the person that you are and the rate at which your journey goes is totally different, and you have to respect that, you have to have the respect and the understanding that your own journey is going to mould a path for you that is going to be long-lasting and individual. You don’t need to rush yourself and you don’t need to worry.

What makes BAJ special?

BAJ is really for anyone. When I started out at BAJ, there were people that were younger than me, that were 18 or 19, and then there was someone who was 45. At any point in your life, you can start your jewellery journey, and BAJ fully supports you in that, and they don’t stop pushing you and encouraging you to embrace your own skills and talents. They always give you the right connections and tell you where to go. BAJ tutors are really skilled professionals, and when I’ve spoken to them, even after I left, they’ve all been so helpful. I can’t stress enough how vital their knowledge is. So if you are embarking upon a journey at BAJ, it doesn’t matter where you are on your journey now, you’re going to have a really good support system that will carry you through into a career in jewellery.

Which courses did you take at BAJ?

I studied two, because I thought that the first one went so well, that I wanted to further my knowledge. The first course that I did was Jewellery Manufacture and Design, and it was Level 2, so it was entry level. I cannot even explain how vital that course was to me. Because what it taught me was very refined skill. Metalwork was covered: piercing, forming, soldering, everything that you need. It wasn’t a high-pressure situation, so you could always really indulge in learning the skill.

They also taught you the design side of things, in working with gouache paints and technical drawing, so that if you were working in a team, you could easily relay through drawing what you had in your head as a vision. So Jewellery Manufacture and Design, the Level 2 course, was invaluable to me. I would honestly say to anyone, you just need to do it. It’s incredible.

When we call ourselves jewellers, it’s very easy for us to just stick to one thing: “I just make metal, I just stone set…” And that never happens at BAJ, you’re never put into a box. You’re given all of these tools that you can use in your life, your industry, your business, to help your business grow, create beautiful jewellery, and really bring your own visions to life.

There are things that I use from that course that I’ve not learnt anywhere else, and I will take them with me for the rest of my life.

Tell us more about yourself?

I have my own jewellery business. It’s been going for about a year and a half now. Really my main focus at the start was to bring out these beautiful collections that were very wearable and durable, but that were well-priced as well, and could be passed down. So that is really what my business centred around at the start, but I also carry out bespoke commissions, sourcing gemstones or using gemstones. I handmake everything, and I love my job. So that’s what I do full time now.

Why did you want to become a jeweller?

I wanted to become a jeweller because I think I had been around jewellery and the making of jewellery from a young age. As I mentioned, my father is a jeweller. So from a very young age, I would find my way into his workshop and sit there with him, while he was making jewellery.

I said to my dad, “would you teach me how to do this?” and he said to me, “I’m not a teacher. I don’t know the exact way to teach you everything and to relay the skill in a way that you’re really going to pick up.” So he told me about a platinum course that he did at BAJ and he said “why don’t you go here? They’re great.” And that’s really where my journey started, that’s where everything began to flourish. And I’m so glad that I went to BAJ, because of the opportunities that I’ve been given and the skills that I’ve picked up.

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