UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 01 FEBRUARY
A BCU alumna who has established herself as a gothic jewellery specialist is enjoying huge success in her business.
Jo Herriotts founded her own business, Hellcat Jewellery, in 2014 after graduating from BCU’s School of Jewellery.
By building a strong client base amongst alternative and gothic communities, Jo has created a wide range of engagement and wedding rings with a twist, as well as bracelets, necklaces, earrings and memorial jewellery.
She said: “I was trained to make traditional wedding and engagement rings at the School of Jewellery, but since leaving, I have added my own gothic flare to my designs.
“My customers want high quality awesome designs that will last a lifetime, made from the finest materials our beloved Jewellery Quarter has to offer.
“I'm inspired by the macabre, and my collection is full of beautifully lustrous gemstones, steeped in bones and skulls. Admittedly, it's not for everyone, but certainly for those with a curious mind.”
Alongside her engagement and wedding ring collections, Jo also does a huge amount of bespoke work, working closely with clients to create their dream rings.
She said: “I do a lot of bespoke work. I love working closely with clients to make their dream rings. In fact, I recently started offering stones to help customers who might not know where to start.
“Most of my clients come to me with specific ideas, and others give me artistic freedom. I offer online and face to face consultations to help guide them every step of the way.
“I often work with men alone and it's all a big surprise, and honestly my favourite thing is how sentimental they get when designing the rings for their partners, the effort, and the thoughtfulness, it's truly heart-warming.
“My favourite thing about making them though is problem solving a design to get the best possible result. It’s my favourite thing about jewellery making as a whole.”
But Jo does have her favourite designs, including a heart shaped gemstone.
She said: “My favourite engagement ring is the heart shaped gemstone set between two skulls. I made a wedding ring that sits perfectly with it too, and you just can't beat a perfect pairing.
“With 18 stones individually set in the halo, it’s an absolute showstopper and it's wild to think that so many people have said yes to marriage with that ring.”
Hellcat Jewellery is a labour of love for the graduate, and she does everything for the business, from website editing, admin and social media to the design and making of her products too. But after nine years, Jo is only just getting started and has big plans for the future.
But it’s thanks to her time at BCU that she was able to create her business.
She said: “I always wanted to go to university and have that experience, but I’m dyslexic and the idea of studying absolutely terrified me, as I just can’t work that way. I had always loved design technology, and I was also really crafty, but jewellery had never really been offered as an option to me.
“I met someone who had studied at the School of Jewellery, and they told me how practical it was, so it really appealed to me. I went along for an interview and the staff were so energetic and passionate about the course and I just knew it was for me.
“BCU gave me the first steps into my career and gave me the ability to create a business that I'm very proud of.
“In my work, I come in when I want and work as hard as I want to. But I always want to work hard as I enjoy what I do. It never feels laboured, and I just love it.”
For current students and graduates keen to follow in Jo’s footsteps, the alumna has a huge range of advice to share.
She said: “My advice is anything is possible if you work hard enough, which sounds cliché but it's true. There are many facets to this trade that include stone setting, engraving, mould making, polishing.
"The jewellery industry is friendly, so find a way to get your foot in a door and go for it.”