Regina Aradesian, enameller
After discovering a love of jewellery-making on a foundation art course, Regina studied for a degree in Jewellery Design. She now specialises in enamelling.
I'm Armenian, but I grew up in Iran and the US.
I've been living in London for years now. All my jewellery study has been here.
What job do you do?
I run my own business, designing and making my own pieces of contemporary enamel jewellery. I've been running it for several years.
How did you get started in jewellery?
Since I was about seven years old, I liked to paint. I always thought I would be a graphic designer, but when I did my art foundation course at Chelsea College of Art my view completely changed.
"When people buy your art, it's an amazing feeling."
The course covered fashion, painting, 3D design, jewellery, and textiles. Jewellery became my favourite, and I picked it to specialise in for the degree course I went on to do at Central St Martins College of Art.
While I was doing my degree, I discovered enamel. Enamelling is applying powdered glass on metal and fusing the two together. It involves grinding the glass with purified water, applying it to the metal, and putting it in a kiln to be melted, fixed and fused.
It's so colourful, and as I have a background in painting it really caught my interest. I could, effectively, recreate what I loved about painting in jewellery form.
What previous jobs have you done?
Whilst at university, I worked part-time in a jewellery shop in Covent Garden as a sales assistant. I was there for long enough that when the manager left, just as I was graduating, the managerial post was offered to me. I managed the jewellery shop for several months after university.
The fair is one of the most prestigious retail jewellery fairs in the UK. I won a bursary and a free stand there, and it really helped me to launch my jewellery business.
Since then, I've been designing, making and selling regularly, and I've attended the fair every year.
I've had a few other jobs over the years, including one where I sold diamonds, but mainly I've been running my own business.
I've been teaching enamelling at Holts for a few years now. I now teach the diploma in Jewellery Manufacture.
What qualifications do you have?
"Find ways to get out there and try different creative paths before you commit to a degree."
I really recommend that people do an art foundation course if possible. It really opens your mind to all kinds of possibilities.
Find out what's out there before you set your mind on a certain degree.
Whether it's through a foundation year or an apprenticeship, it's worth finding ways to get out there and try different creative paths before you commit to a three-year course.
What do you do at work?
In my studio, I do a combination of:
- designing new pieces
- making jewellery
- billing customers
- agreeing commissioned pieces with customers
- dealing with suppliers of precious stones
- finding new suppliers of metals and stones.
I don't set my own stones. I make sure they are ready to be set by gem setters, who do this for me.
Sometimes I spend all day making and enamelling pieces. When I have a special commission, I might spend all day on the one piece.
At Holts Academy, my time is spent:
- dealing with students and their projects, making sure their courses are going smoothly
- teaching and assessing students' work
- introducing students to different enamelling techniques. Usually this happens over a dedicated four-day period as part of their diploma course. There are a number of different ways to do enamelling.
What's the best thing about your job?
As a jewellery designer, you connect with an audience through your pieces. You can tell them a story with your art. When they buy into it, it's an amazing feeling.
And the worst thing about the job?
Being self-employed and running a business mean you can't always rely on a steady income. At least, not in quite the same way as when you have a straightforward job working for someone else's company.
How do I get into jewellery?
These are my tips:
- Be passionate
Love what you are creating. That's really important.
- Be proactive
You have to be dedicated about it. Work hard if you want it to work out.
- Never give up
Believe in your designs and your pieces.
- Tell your audience a story with your work
Create pieces that are relevant to you. Share your story with your audience. My pieces are inspired by my Armenian heritage. I use the enamel to recreate patterns from ancient Armenian manuscripts.
- Perfect your skills
Quality and finish are two very important aspects of fine jewellery. So in general, you need to try to be unique in what you create. For me, the way I do my enamelling is my 'unique thing'.
I specialise in plique-a-jour enamel, which gives a 'stained glass window' effect. It's one of the more difficult techniques to master, but the fact that I've mastered it makes my work stand out.