Jessica Sherriff has become known for her contemporary acrylic jewellery, based on scenes from the North-East and Yorkshire. Ruth Addicott caught up with her to find out more.

BEING a jewellery designer might sound like a glamorous job, surrounded by precious stones and diamonds all day. But Jessica Sherriff, who has a workshop in Bedale, spends the bulk of her day polishing.

Removing all the scratches from a finished piece is one of the most time-consuming and challenging parts of the job and for a perfectionist like Jessica, it can take hours.

“I’ve got to the stage now where I see scratches no one else can see,”

she says. “I spend a long, long time polishing. I’m quite obsessive about it, it’s a labour of love.”

Jessica has built a reputation for her stunning range of contemporary acrylic jewellery. What makes it unique is that each piece is inspired by colours and views in Yorkshire and the North-East.

A keen photographer, Jessica uses her own images –- be it a sunset, an iconic landmark or close up of trees and flowers, and displays them within the jewellery using a unique printing technique. The process creates an unusual distorted, but intriguing effect, resulting in bold and subtle colours and designs.

Originally from Thirsk, Jessica began experimenting when she studied jewellery design at Middlesex University. She missed home so much she began taking photos of Yorkshire, then incorporating them into her work. After gaining a firstclass honours, she moved back North and set up her business in April 2004, initially working from the spare room in her house. Two years later, it proved such a success she moved to the workshop in Bedale.

Jessica’s collection includes necklaces, cuff links, bangles and earrings.

Prices start at £30 for a small bangle or earrings, up to £160 for a triple bangle with pieces of silver.

With so many different styles available, her loyal customers vary from ten-year-olds to a lady aged 82.

Jessica also does bespoke pieces, using clients’ own personal photographs if they want to create a design based on a special memory.

Some people have taken in photographs of their pets, others of loved ones. Slightly blurred photos often work best.

While Jessica’s work incorporates photos of the local landscape, she points out that it is not always easy to see the full picture. “Some pieces are very abstract and you just get a glimmer,” she says. “But there is something for everybody.”

Her most recent collection, entitled Manmade, came out in April and is based on everything from Sunderland boats to Newcastle bridges.

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places from a distant view of the Dales and the sunset in her garden to a tulip in her local park. Some pieces were inspired by a trip to Redcar.

“I ended up taking random shots of cranes and things,” she says.

Having to constantly attend craft fairs, trade shows and jewellery exhibitions, Jessica has been unable to resist building up a personal collection of her own. Over the years, she has bought everything from a 50p badge to a £2,500 platinum diamond ring. “I love them both equally,” she says. “People have this concept that if it’s expensive, it is one thing, but I don’t think those rules apply – you have to think about what has gone into it.”

While some of her pieces are available to buy direct from her workshop in Bedale and online, most of her jewellery is sold through shops and galleries. It can be found locally in Whitby, Ilkley, York and Newcastle, as well as Edinburgh, Swansea and Dartmouth. There is a full list of stockists on the website.

Having just won an industry award for technical excellence, the creation process is where her heart lies. “I love the making. There is something really satisfying about starting with a flat sheet of perspex and turning it into something that looks amazing that people want to wear. That’s what I love about it,” she says.

■ For further information, visit or Jessica’s workshop at Unit 4, The Craft Yard, Aiskew, Bedale, North Yorkshire DL8 1BZ.

Fly wheels

RICHARD VARCOE grew up in Barnard Castle, until he took flight and joined the RAF.

Twenty-two years later, he is back down to earth and running Spitfire Cycles. Years of tinkering with bikes became a business.

“I had always had an interest in cycling and motorcycling. My stepfather was a very keen mountain biker.

I helped him along the way on the maintenance side and eventually thought it might make a business,”

says Richard.

His aim is to cater for all tastes. He stocks everything from high-spec bikes, which retail at about £2,500, to road racers, off-roaders, mountain bikes, town bikes and children’s bikes. The most popular ones are the hybrids – you can put a set of knobbly tyres on if you want to go off-road – and he has a range of accessories.

There’s also a very strong BMX following in Barnard Castle, says Richard. “The Hub (a new facility for teenagers) has a racing track and a tricks park, so I’ve already had kids looking in, wanting all the fancy grips and colours.”

Richard puts himself in the leisure cyclist category. “I do enjoy to ride, but not the sort of mileage that a lot of guys do,” he says. “My favourite bike ride round here would be to Goldsborough Carr, through Lartington and Cotherstone, and up Baldersdale towards the reservoir.

It’s a 12-mile round trip, thankfully downhill on the way back.”

He is enjoying being back in his home town after so many years away, and appreciates all the help he’s had setting up shop.

“The Vision have had a massive amount to do with this,” he says.

“The shop was derelict and there was some funding available for shop fronts, signage and electrical work.”


Marin Mount Vision 5.8, £2,499.

Bouquet of the Week

would like to say a public thank you to her daughter, Pamela Latcham, of Ferryhill, for all the help and care she gives her. “She is the kindest, most loving daughter in the whole world,” says 81-year-old Mrs Wakeford. “Although she doesn’t live in Darlington, if I need her she always comes through to help me. I would like her to know just how much she means to me.”