Jeweller in Focus: Issue. 13
2nd Week, February 2023
It is rare to find a jeweller who has known about their passion from an early age. However, Michelle Kennedy’s experiences so far have only consolidated the passion she had for Jewellery ever since she was young. Through passion, dedication, and love, Michelle has built Bluebell from the ground up whilst soaring through life with her partner Kieren. Michelle has powered through the jewellery industry with drive and ambition – maintaining not only a successful jewellery business but also venturing into wedding photography.
Patience Passion Feminity – Michelle Kennedy
Michelle began her journey coming out of highschool, completing her apprenticeship in Jewellery manufacturing. Following this, she continued her gemstone and jewellery education by completing the Diploma of Gemmology at the Gemological Association of Australia. This allowed her to not only appreciate gemstones with even further detail but progressed her business by allowing her to understand gemstones at a greater level, and educate her clients through the custom jewellery-making process. This was made especially clear when she realised how many beautiful gemstones were around us, yet how little the general public knew about these stones.
“I couldn’t understand why there were so many different amazing gemstones out there and only a select few were used in jewellery stores and recognised by the general public. (I still can’t understand this!)”
In May 2017, Michelle took the gargantuan decision of pushing off into the gemstone business and creating Bluebell Design. Although she was now facing the wonders and difficulties of the jewellery industry, she most definitely was not alone. Her support system contained a network of individuals including her husband Kieren, and like-minded friends both in and out of the industry. All of which supported her through everything, whether it be good or bad.
Unique and Beautiful – Gemstones with Bluebell
Michelle finds “that unique gemstones are so important as every person has their own idea on what is beautiful”. Her passion extends deep into the creation of jewellery as everyone “can express themselves through gemstones and jewellery”. This is a major part of Bluebell Design’s process, as Michelle recognises that each piece of jewellery maintains importance to both the wearer, as well as the jeweller.
“That is absolutely my favourite part about natural gemstones, even if they look the same to the naked eye, you will never get two the same, which is exactly how it is with people.” The individuality of each and every gemstone, which goes into metal is special in its own unique way. As Michelle individually caters for all of her clients and has done for the past half-decade, she has learnt that every perspective that she receives is completely different. “We are all different in our own unique and beautiful ways. I love that I can create something that is also one of a kind, to suit any gemstone and its owner.”
One aspect of the industry which Michelle always tries to improve is the education of her customers. For example, after learning about all the different kinds of unique gemstones which exist whilst learning gemmology – Michelle tries to educate customers on the “hardness and durability” of stones. and “although some stones are much harder and durable than others”, she has learned “this doesn’t make them scary or any less beautiful”. Instead, Michelle educates her clients that some of the “more delicate gemstones have a time and a place.”
Jeweller and Jewellery – The Qualities of the Maker
“Patience, passion, feminine. All three of these things are the basis of all of the jewellery I create.”
It is so important to have a lot of patience in jewellery making as often the smallest details will be the most important and will take the longest. Patience comes in many forms and has to be displayed through every part of the jewellery-making process. Whether it be taking the time to understand the wants and needs of each individual client, or whether it be taking the time to source the perfect stones and metal for the piece. Patience is a virtue. A truth which is evident in any craft and is especially appreciated through the foundation of Bluebell Design.
Passion is arguably one of the most important parts of jewellery making. “I really love creating special, forever pieces for my clients, especially when there is a really meaningful connection for them.” Michelle created her business very organically – using it as a creative outlet to be able to make the things which she pleased. This passion drives her in every facet of what she does, allowing her to be a fierce competitor within the jewellery industry. A future powerhouse of design and jewellery who excels in customer satisfaction, and the formation of beauty through the manipulation of metal and stone.
“I draw a lot of inspiration from nature, specifically flowers, and all the beautiful colours and shades that come with them”
“I also have a very strong feminine style, which combined with my understanding of practical jewellery, creates the perfect piece for everyday wear and beauty”. Michelle instils her personality as a signature style within her jewellery. Each piece contains elegance and feminity in abundance. She “loves all things feminine and delicate, yet still wearable and long-lasting”. This is a quality which when carried by a jeweller, allows them to excel at paying meticulous attention to each and every piece.
An Issue of Identity
Some of the biggest challenges in the jewellery industry are “keeping true to oneself, one’s enjoyment, and one’s beliefs”. In the early days of Bluebell, there were times when she was not enjoying what she was creating. One of the reasons this was, was due to her being asked to create a “carbon copy of something you could buy off the shelf in a store, or a client’s design I just didn’t connect with”. These kinds of jobs can definitely take a toll on a jeweller. Furthermore, it can negatively influence the creative license which a jeweller feels obliged to utilise. However, Michelle has realised that “it is okay to say no to these jobs, and leave room for other things that you truly enjoy making”.
By “surrounding myself with Jewellers who I respect, and want to become one day”, she was able to emerge from the highly evasive trap of identity. A trap which young jewellers can fall into within the industry. During this period, Michelle took a step back and relied on the skills which she already had. The skills which allowed her to emerge as a notable jeweller from such an early stage. This was her “ability to handmake things from start to finish”. The most valuable skill a jeweller can have. Michelle was fortunate enough to “have been taught very traditional methods of making jewellery”. Because of this, she feels the utmost appreciation for being able to “create such beautiful pieces from scratch”.
Through turmoil, and difficulty, it is important to recognise your strongest skills. Use them to trampoline yourself to the next level. This is especially true when you find yourself plateauing. Reaching a “roof” which may seem difficult, or even impossible to breach through.
A Brand Beyond Jewellery
“Outside of making jewellery, I am a mother of two daughters. This absolutely 100% plays a huge role in my jewellery creation. Since having them both, I am even more so drawn to all things feminine…flowers, butterflies, fairies, glittery and rainbow treasures!
Aside from this, I am also a wedding Photographer with my husband, and this also draws in so much inspiration. I am constantly surrounded by things that are meaningful and sentimental to couples so often, it reflects in my jewellery. Whether it’s new jewellery they have been gifted for their special day or the actual wedding ring. Whether it’s the engagement ring which started the whole lead-up to their day, or it’s ‘something blue’. Even ‘something old’ from a beloved grandparent who is not around. All of these elements are constantly inspiring me to design and make.”
Like Michelle, it is important to find inspiration through activities outside of just jewellery making. Michelle maintains a completely holistic method of running both her life and business. A reality which may be difficult for some people to achieve, and yet, one which complements her skills and allows her to further progress her business.
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