Knutsford jewellery designer Carolyn Grant

Jewellery designer Carolyn Grant left a hectic business life in London in favour of a creative career in Knutsford WORDS BY LAURA NORMANSELL PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

The print version of this article appeared in the April 2012  issue of Cheshire Life 

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What started as a favour for a family member, unexpectedly led to the creation of a thriving jewellery business for former business analyst, Carolyn Grant.

A self-taught jewellery designer, she lives in Pickmere, near Knutsford, with her husband of five years and their daughter, Eva, two.

Pregnant with her second child, Carolyn runs her business, ‘CeeGee Jewellery Design’, single-handedly from her home, where she has lived for three-and-a-half-years.

Originally from Cheadle Hulme, she met her husband, Nick, who is from Oxford, whilst working in Germany as part of her degree.

Two weeks after finishing university she moved to London, where she got a job in the banking sector, involving project management with traders.After living in London for 10 years, Carolyn and Nick wanted to move to the North West to start a family, so when the opportunity for voluntary redundancy came up she took it.

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‘I didn’t have corporate ambitions and wanted to be closer to my family. London is a great place to live in your twenties but it’s not somewhere I wanted to bring up children’ said Carolyn.

Nick and Carolyn moved to Knutsford in 2006, where they rented for a year before moving to their current home. While Carolyn looked for jobs in investment banking, Carolyn’s sister, Jo, was planning her wedding, for which Carolyn was a bridesmaid. Having chosen earrings for her bridesmaids, Jo wanted necklaces to match but could not find any. ‘I offered to make the necklaces and the idea for designing jewellery spun from there,’ said Carolyn.

She then made necklaces to ‘test out’ on eBay. ‘I was really pleased with the feedback I received, as it’s impartial. It gave me the confidence to push it out further. ‘I started on a shoestring – everything was low cost. I don’t know if I would have the guts to do it now. I took a risk at the time, as I had no money to fall back on but I believed then was the right time to do it’ said Carolyn.

She learned the basic techniques of jewellery making from books, where she came across lampwork glass - ‘I took to the process of lampwork glass and really wanted to try it myself. I found lessons were expensive, so decided to spend money on equipment and teach myself.

‘I am learning all the time; there are always more things I would like to learn’, she said.

The hand-crafted jewellery made of sterling-silver and lampwork glass is made in Carolyn’s studio at her Cheshire home.

While the colour of the glass tends to be the starting point for her designs, the seasons are a source of inspiration.

‘My jewellery is classic modern and fairly delicate. I don’t follow trends too much: I go with my instincts and hope people like it’, said Carolyn.Occasionally selling at local craft fairs, Carolyn finds them helpful, as they allow her to see what people like and provide her with valuable feedback. They are also ‘good for publicity’ as she finds she only receives limited publicity, with mainly selling online.

People as far as Australia have bought her jewellery; yet what came as a great surprise to Carolyn was the fact she had a customer who lived in the same village as her.

Carolyn has a sister site on the online market place, ‘etsy’, through which other jewellery designers can buy her lampwork glass.

A typical ‘nursery’ day – Eva is there three mornings a week - involves Carolyn taking her daughter to nursery. On returning home she checks her emails and online shops for orders before heading into her studio to make beads.

She then picks up Eva and once the little girl is in bed, she continues working.

Working from home with a young daughter is a great advantage to Carolyn: ‘It is ideal, I can’t really complain at all.’

Carolyn takes great pleasure in making jewellery. However she said: ‘From day one I have always looked at this as a business. I’m lucky generating an income from something I love. But as it’s a business, I want to make it work.’ With this ambition, Carolyn hopes to eventually make enough stock to supply boutiques.

To see more of Carolyn’s designs visit www.ceegeejewellery.com

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