Hello! I’m Jude Karnon and I am a jewellery designer and metalsmith. I set up my business Jude Karnon Jewellery five years ago and am based on the border of the beautiful counties of Herts, Beds and Bucks. I am one of those lucky people who turned a hobby into a business and have enjoyed every moment of the experience.
I make bespoke pieces for clients and create collections in both silver and gold. I love working with precious metals and beautiful gemstones; working with my hand tools and spending time being creative.
I also teach jewellery making and run workshops in my own studio and at other locations.
What inspired you to work in your chosen profession?
I absolutely LOVE rings and would buy a new ring every time I travelled somewhere. This led me to wondering if I could make my own. I enrolled on an evening course way back in 2008, learnt the basics and started to make jewellery for friends. With each piece, I would learn a new technique so by the time I launched my business seven years later, I felt confident to charge people for my work!
What is the favourite thing about your job?
I love a challenge! I have been asked to make some pretty unusual and curious pieces which require a lot of thought in how to create in metal. Sometimes I feel like an engineer and mathematician! These pieces give me the biggest satisfaction when successfully completed.
How would you describe your design style e.g. minimalist, traditional etc.
With bespoke pieces I am guided by my client’s wishes so being versatile in style is imperative. I am happy making both statement and delicate along with simple and more elaborate pieces.
Part of me wishes I had a signature style in my jewellery, which would make me a more recognisable brand and stand out within the competitive jewellery industry. But a bigger part of me loves exploring and experimenting with differing styles and having the scope to work outside the parameters of one particular look.
I love simplicity, angles, layering of metals and matching particular gemstones to metal colours. I would describe my work as fun and entertaining.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Creating jewellery collections is my opportunity to indulge in my passions and inspirations. Even though I live as far from any coastline as it is possible, I love making jewellery with a coastal/seashore theme because my heart belongs by the sea.
I am very lucky to have ancient woodlands on my doorstep which are home to the most amazing bluebell woods – a popular jewellery collection with my local customers.
I also take inspiration from geology, travel, history and sport – quite a selection to entice my customers!
Name a person or business that you admire or inspires you (and why)?
The godfather of contemporary jewellery, Andrew Grima created jewellery that makes me gawp with wonder. He designed my favourite ring of all time.
Fay Page was an inspiration early on. Not only does she live in my favourite place in the world (Isles of Scilly); she creates beautiful jewellery inspired by the islands. I have a few of her pieces and want her life!
Best piece of advice you have been given.
Don’t give up! There have been many moments I have wanted to get back to full time employment and the safety of a monthly salary. It can take a few years to establish a new business, so be patient!
Mistakes are ok – they are the best lessons to improve, tweak and learn from.
What is your biggest success story or proudest moment in your career so far.
Deciding to teach jewellery making was the best eureka moment in these last five years. I discovered I had quite a talent for teaching and the buzz from watching beginners create beautiful pieces and be proud of their work cannot be matched. I have many returning students which is the biggest testament to the success.
Other teaching highlights include setting up an evening class at a local school which is now in its third year, teaching at the prestigious WI Denman College, and teaching at a local gallery.
All jewellers would say having their own maker’s mark is a career high and I am no different. Having my initials as part of a hallmark is the best finishing touch to my jewellery. I am that proud of it, my maker’s mark is central to my brand identity.
Name the biggest overall lesson you've learned in running a business?
Making jewellery is actually quite a small part of the business, I would say 25%. Working on your own means you must be all roles (finance, marketing, operations, tea lady) so be prepared to work longer hours. But as it is your own business, this isn’t such a chore.
Be pro-active in approaching possible business opportunities. I would not have the teaching gigs at the WI and other establishments if I didn’t introduce myself and suggest I should teach at those places!
Be adaptable. Situations beyond your control (e.g. Covid-19) can prove damaging. My workshop offerings had to change so safety was paramount.
What would be your dream commission/ project?
I have already launched my dream project but need to spend time promoting it. I have created a netball inspired jewellery collection. Most people who play netball are obsessed with the game (like me!) so this is the collection I am the proudest of. I have already had orders from Wasps, a top netball club and Sasha Corbin, former England Roses player, loves her necklace!
I have even given myself a new handle of the “Netballing Jeweller”!
I was given a jewellery lesson with Jude by my husband as a Christmas present and I can very much recommend it. It was such a brilliant and thoughtful gift and the necklace and earrings I made, I wear all the time.
P.s our coin purses make the perfect jewellery travel pouches :-)
Check out Jude's jewellery collection and courses on her website or social media.