Gemmology and Jewellery Studies BSc (Hons)
As a 25-year-old, working, single parent, Charlotte believed her dreams of progressing in the diamond industry were out of reach. Despite facing traumatic life events, the support of BCU and Charlotte's resilience allowed her to power through her degree and prove to herself that just about anything is possible.
"I always wanted to go to university but had no real direction. I worked at my family's jewellers for many years and realised my passion was diamonds. At age 25 I went through a life-changing event which made me re-evaluate my life. This was when I decided to do something for myself; I took the plunge and applied for the BCU Gemmology and Jewellery Studies course, the only course of its kind.
Going to university as a mature student seemed like a terrifying thought at the time, I believed I may have missed the boat! The main challenge I faced was that I was working full-time, and also being a single parent. I worried about how I would manage my studies alongside work and raising my son Charlie. After attending an Open Day and having a chat with the course leader, I very quickly realised the support in place within the University meant this was entirely possible.
In February I unfortunately had a house fire and had to move out of my home. The tutors were supportive on both a professional and personal level, doing everything they could to ensure that both my son and I were okay and supported after this traumatising event and that I was still able to complete my studies despite this. If ever I required support with an assignment, a tutor was always on hand via email or for a tutorial to ensure I understood things correctly.
My experience studying at BCU has been entirely positive. The course content is extremely diverse; one day you’re in a laboratory identifying diamond defects, and the next you’re valuing beautiful jewellery. There is always something new to learn and discover with gemmology, although it's impossible to cover everything, BCU covers an incredible amount. The Gemmology and Jewellery Studies course provides you with the skills to succeed in the diamond/gemstone/jewellery industry. The industry talks provided by the University were invaluable, providing a chance to hear the stories of major industry players such as Martin Rapaport. The laboratory is incredibly well equipped, meaning you can gain the hands-on experience necessary to be able to excel in your future career.
Many of my all-time goals were completed before I graduated thanks to the University’s support. My main ambition was to be doing a job I loved. Thanks to the skills provided and taught in my synthetic diamond module, I was able to consult for the Natural Diamond Council on their ASSURE programme in the summer of 2022. I provided demonstrations on diamond verification equipment at the London Diamond Bourse. The in-depth knowledge expertly taught by tutors has meant I have since established a career in the consultancy field, working with the Natural Diamond Council and other organisations on various diamond verification projects and also holding talks and workshops on diamond pipeline protection. I have also been appointed to the Council of Management at the London Diamond Bourse, where I am heading up their Mentor Programme initiative, to provide further support to industry newcomers and students in the diamond and jewellery industry.
Being a single parent, running my own business, and studying for a degree was very challenging. However, this has taught me the importance of effective time management and learning how to prioritise. The past three years have been a whirlwind, and at times I’ve felt burnt out from taking on too much. I’ve learned to block out time in my diary to complete different tasks, making things far more manageable. It's so important to take time for you. Even if it’s just a long soak in the bath after a day of work!
Since becoming a student at BCU I am far more confident in my abilities. Graduating with a first-class degree despite the challenges I have faced, has shown me that I am capable of just about anything. University pushes your boundaries, in the best possible way. If you told 18-year-old me I would hold a first-class Bachelor of Science by the time I’m 30, I would never would have believed you. BCU instils the feeling that you can accomplish anything, the sky really is the limit. The relationships I have formed through the university have changed my life, I am surrounded by engaging, kind and uplifting individuals. Since becoming a student at BCU my entire life has changed for the better. Accepting that unconditional offer was the best decision I have ever made.
It’s been amazing to feel like I’m a part of something here. My class was small, making the experience feel very personal. The knowledge and skills you’re provided with are just a small part of being a student. The friendships I have made have had such a profound impact on my life: that has to be the best part.
If you’re considering studying here, just do it. Don’t think you can’t, because you absolutely can. Whatever challenges you may face, BCU will help you overcome them. If you’re interested in learning more about diamonds and gemstones, this is absolutely the course for you, and you’ll learn far more than you even realised there was to learn!
To me, ‘I AM BCU’ signifies the hard work I have put in to become the woman I am today, both professionally and personally. It also signifies the impact this course has had on my life, transforming me from a girl with a part-time job and little to no confidence in her ability to a successful woman with a thriving career, truly capable of just about anything."