The Cass graduate Preanka Patel discusses her business ambitions after graduating from Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University

Professional Jeweller was invited by The Cass, London, to award one exceptional graduating jewellery student with a special ‘Professional Jeweller: Best Brand Potential Award’ at its annual ceremony. Preanka Patel was a clear winner showing a keen brand focus, ambition and technical skill. Here we talk to Preanka about her plans for the future and her concerns about entering the trade.

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Professional Jeweller: What made you want to pursue a university degree in an offbeat, unconventional and unique career such as jewellery design? 

Preanka Patel: I’ve always loved jewellery and it’s a big part of my traditional culture. I was going to study architecture at university, but at the last minute I decided on jewellery. During my A-Levels I was under the impression that the only routes for me to go down were graphic design and fine art, I was stunned to find out that jewellery design and silversmithing was even an option.

PJ: How was your experience at The Cass and what did it teach you?

PP: The Cass was an amazing opportunity, and I saw myself improving dramatically from year-to-year. I know I’ve got the basic skills, so I want to work for someone in the professional jewellery industry so I can improve and add to my abilities. Making skills were the main focus of the course, but I love drawing and designing. The good thing about focusing on manufacturing techniques is that it actually pushed by design skills to new levels of possibility as a result. I also learned off my peers and by watching others.

PJ: Your graduate collection was inspired by your experiences with self-esteem and shyness, can you tell us more about it? 

PP: My collection was inspired by body movement, but as my designs developed I realised there were parallels with my past experience of confidence and shyness. Over the years my inner confidence levels have improved, which I wanted to display in the jewellery. My past has definitely influenced my collection, but going forward I would still like to work with movement.

PJ: As a recent graduate, are you confident that you could start your own business?

PP: It’s a lot of responsibility to take on by myself. Even though I’m confident in the making and designing, I’m not sure if I’m ready to run the business ‘paper work’ side by myself. At the moment I am focusing on building-up my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages and developing a clear brand message and ethos.

PJ: Your collection has the potential to be very commercial, how realistic would it be to mass produce your pieces and what would the RRPs be like? 

PP: The pieces could be cast and rapidly produced and I’m convinced the RRPs would be very accessible. I would like to appeal to a mass market of customers.

PJ: Do you have an image in mind of the type of person who would wear your jewellery?

PP: I would definitely say a modern woman. There’s a wide range of sizes in the collection which allows for lots of different people to be able to wear the pieces; from loud extroverts to fans of smaller, more understated designs. Some of the pieces are very geometric, and they give a different perspective depending on how you wear them and the angles that you view them at. You can personalise pieces by wearing them on top or below the hand, whatever feels more comfortable for you.

PJ: What’s your plan going ahead compared to where you’re at now?

PP: I need to get a job, to help me pay off the materials, solid metals and plating that I’m using. I want to get back into the workshop and get back to making. I particularly want to get a job to develop my skills in making because I know they’re not perfect and I have a long way to go. Luckily, there’s no time limit.

PJ: Can you tell me about your making approach as a designer? 

PP: I am a perfectionist. If I see a scratch I have to get rid of it, because I know that is what’s going to make the customers satisfied. When picking the threads to use, I went through hundreds of options trying to find the perfect option that wasn’t too thick or thin, but was strong enough to last and not fray at the edges. I am aware that a lot of my designs can be scaled down, making them more accessible. When I first started designing, I never thought about my designs as being practical – they were more conceptual. However, eventually I began thinking in a more practical, commercial sense and what was going to benefit me as a brand in the long term.

PJ: What’s currently your biggest challenge?

PP: Being successful and setting up my own business! Having the right buyers is important, but I’m not entirely sure where to go in terms of really starting up my business.