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Emma Benson wins October's NAJ Jet 1 Award  



Emma tells The Jeweller about her career in jewellery retail

“In the summer of 2017 I was looking for something different from the norm after working at a computer screen in an office for the last 15 years. I love dealing with people and being in the heart of the Lake District we have a lot of tourism-based jobs. I was lucky enough to be offered a position working for the amazing British designer, Daniella Draper.

“She definitely likes to ensure we all have the knowledge to speak to customers about her products. We have four shops and it’s very important that we all adhere to the same standards. I was asked if I’d like to take JET when I went full time in April 2018. I was initially nervous – I thought it may be too in-depth for me – after all, my role is as a sales assistant not jewellery designer! However the course was fantastic, helping to open my eyes on the construction of jewellery, in so much more detail than I could ever imagine.

“It was great to be praised for my comprehensive coverage for the diamond assignment. I love all gemstones, but I think diamonds in particular are seen as the most valuable – people take more risks to find and sell them. I am, as much as I can be, ethically minded – it’s important that we ensure the way all stones are mined responsibly, in a genuine and environmentally conscious manner. I did a lot of reading and researched all of the essay topics in-depth before I started working on the assignments to ensure that I could answer the questions fully and get the best marks available.

“The most enjoyable part of JET was learning about lots of different subjects, from birthstone meanings and healing benefits, to the scientific facts behind each gemstone. I wasn’t very good at science at school so it’s funny that I need to educate myself on some very technical aspects about metals, gemstones and making jewellery. But the science behind the properties in the metals and stones was tricky to get my head around. Some of the technical terms were a whole new world to me and it took a while to understand these. Luckily there are lots of team members who have taken the course before so I could ask for guidance when I felt stuck. But I tried not to rely on my work colleagues too much as I wanted to make sure that I answered all of the questions myself without copying previous students.

“Taking the JET course has definitely affected my working life. I’m now much more confident in selling Daniella’s jewellery as I can pass on my knowledge to customers so they have a better shopping experience. And I can also help the other team members to learn more about the pieces we sell. I feel that the technical knowledge gained has benefitted me, the Bowness shop and Daniella’s business as a whole. The benefits will be huge going forward. I think JET was fun to learn and didn’t ever feel like I was under pressure or out of my depth with the subjects covered. I hope to carry on with the next course to improve my knowledge even further.”

Feature by courtesy of the NAJ, The Jeweller Magazine