Ola Tait of Ola Gorie collecting her Honorary Doctor of Design from Robert Gordon University.

Ola Tait picks up doctorate from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.

Scottish jewellery designer Ola Tait, founder of the Ola Gorie brand, has been awarded with an honorary degree from her former university.

Tait was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Design from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen on Friday.


The jewellery designer studied at Gray’s School of Art, which is now part of Robert Gordon’s University, in the 1950s and was the first graduate from its jewellery department.

After graduating Tait went to work for a jewellery workshop in Aberdeen and gave art classes in her spare time to raise money to buy jewellery tools. Some years later Tait moved to Canada with her husband but returned to Scotland in 1969 to Kirkwall where they set up a jewellery store and manufacturing business.

Tait’s designs centre around her Orcadian roots and the Scottish-inspired jewellery quickly found fans locally. However, the brand also found fame throughout the UK and Tait has created special collections for Liberty’s 100th anniversary, the British Museum and the House of Commons. She also created one-off commissions for the Queen Mother.

Tait retired from the Ola Gorie company in 1997 and the business is now run by her daughter Ingrid Tait who is a textiles designer.

Gray’s School of Art associate head Libby Curtis said: “Ola Gorie is one of Britain’s most important jewellery designers of recent times. Her designs have continued to break new ground and influence a generation of designers. It is entirely appropriate that Robert Gordon University should honour Ola as one of the key figures in the modern arts and craft movement in Scotland.”

This is not the first recognition that Tait has received. In 199 she was awarded an MBE for services to the jewellery industry and in 2010 the Orkney Museum held a retrospective exhibition called Celebrating 50 Years of Ola Gorie.