Have you ever had a sliding doors moment? You know, when a seemingly simple choice you make changes the path of your life forever?
That’s what happened to Naomi Tracz when she decided to tag along to a jewellery making course with her friend.
A few years later and it’s her career and passion.
Good job she went along!
Read about Naomi’s journey (and how she juggles life as a jeweller with kids and a cat) below…
First things first, let’s get to know you…what’s your favourite breakfast?
Mmmm, right now it’s Marmite on toast, and the bread has to be Vogel, it’s so tasty when toasted.
On the weekends I love eggs. Soft boiled with toast soldiers are my favourite, or occasionally pancakes.
How would you describe your jewellery?
My jewellery is simple and minimal in aesthetic and I aim to make pieces that are elegant and a pleasure to wear. I work with silver, gold and semi-precious stones and enjoy sourcing interesting and unusual gems.
My background is fine art and photography and I enjoy experimenting with contrasts of light and texture, always striving for simplicity of line and form.
What materials do you use?
I use silver and gold and semi-precious gems.
Where do you create your jewellery?
I create jewellery at my studio in Hackney, North London
Whereabouts do you Iive?
I also live in Hackney, I’ve been in this area for 21 years now (eek!) I grew up in Barnes in South West London and spent three years at Uni in Brighton before ending up here.
Who is Naomi Tracz?
I am a forty-something jeweller and mother of two. I studied photography for my degree and spent some time working as an assistant, as well as a few years working as a website manager before discovering jewellery making through evening classes.
I love cats and until recently had three, sadly two of them died in the last few years (they were both pretty old), so now we are a one cat household. I feel very lucky that I discovered jewellery making and can spend my time doing something I enjoy so much.
Describe your studio to us...
I have a beautiful big oak jeweller’s bench where I create all my jewellery with tools all around, in drawers, on shelves and hanging on peg boards. I have my desk and computer right next to my bench which is handy but can also be distracting.
There’s art on the walls by my kids as well as various prints, paintings and ceramics I’ve bought or been given over the years (including my Mad Cat Lady doll) and shelves of jewellery making books.
It’s often a bit of a mess, especially the bench top. But I do try hard to keep it tidy as I find it easier to work when things are in order.
What inspires you?
My inspirations come from ancient jewellery, from the amazing torcs of the Snettisham Hoard in the British Museum to all the amazing Roman, Etruscan and Hellenistic work.
I’m also inspired by the forms we see everyday in nature. I like to take those inspirations and pare them down to simple forms that are a pleasure to wear.
What’s the piece you’re most proud of creating?
I couldn’t pick just one piece, but right now I’m really enjoying working with different and interesting gemstones
Where did you learn to create jewellery?
I studied at City Lit, a great adult education college in London (I was in my mid-thirties when I took my first course) and I have done short courses at The London Jewellery School and The Cass.
I’ve also learnt a lot as I work. I have plenty of books that I can refer to (if needed) as well as being a member of a few online jewellery forums that I can turn to for help.
What’s your favourite part of being a Jewellery Designer?
I really love the process of making, seeing an idea become a real piece is such a buzz. Seeing people wearing my jewellery and loving it also makes me very happy.
I have a few friends who’ve commissioned me to make a piece and every time I see them wearing them it makes my day!
What would you do if you weren’t a jewellery designer?
I honestly don’t know!
What’s your design process?
A lot happens in my head, I often have ideas as I’m lying in bed falling asleep or sitting on the bus, my mind is constantly thinking about jewellery, I do try and sketch my ideas down but often I just start making and see where it goes.
What do you love about jewellery?
I love that jewellery can hold so much memory and emotion, from pieces that are handed down through families to pieces made to mark a special occasion or event in a person’s life, they can symbolise so much.
I also love that you can change and enhance an outfit with the right jewellery and there are so many different styles to choose from and so many different ways to wear it, you can really express yourself with your jewels.
How did you start creating jewellery?
I started out doing evening classes as a friend went to do one and I tagged along. I fell in love with it very quickly and carried on with part time classes, going from evening classes to once a week classes and eventually a City and Guilds level 2 and 3 at City Lit.
I still go to classes sometimes, to continue improving my skills and learn new techniques.
Why did you fall in love with jewellery design?
I’ve always loved jewellery. I spent a lot of time before I made jewels wearing them, looking at them and buying them. And once I started making I fell in love with that too.
What’s your favourite jewellery making technique?
It’s really hard to pick one thing but I do love making settings for stones. I mainly make bezel settings and find the process very satisfying.
How do you juggle all the different aspects of the job?
I try to split up my time so I can get all the admin jobs done as well as the bench work. it’s hard sometimes to get the balance right and get everything done.
I’m trying to put one day a week aside for admin and website work, so I can really focus on making on the other days.
Jewellers often have to work quite flexible hours, how does that fit in with the rest of your life?
I have two young children so I fit the work in around them. My working days are 10am-3pm, which is never enough. So if I have commissions to finish or orders to get out, I’ll head back to the studio and put in some work in the evenings too.
I wouldn’t change it though, I feel very lucky to be able to be around for my kids. I drop them off and pick them up most days, and I’m here for dinner and bedtime. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to do that.