First year student shows impressive level of dedication to trade.

When QVC launched its Hidden Gems competition to give a student a box full of valuable scraps it expected to attract some talented final year students, but beating all the entries was 20-year-old first year student Sophie Naylor. 

When you think of first year university students the words dedicated, informed and focused are probably not jumping out of your lexicon to attach themselves to your imagined stereotype.


For those of us who went to university or college, that first year was a period spent finding ourselves, finding the best pubs and finding out how much fun it was to be out of school and on our way into the wide world. So when a first year student called Sophie Naylor cut through the crowds to win QVC’s Hidden Gems contest it was a pleasant surprise.

What is more surprising is that when you meet Naylor you are not greeted with someone who quite liked fine art and thought she’d try out jewellery for the sake of it (a common jewellery student response). Of course, that is what she’ll tell you, but whenyou speak to her and the names of established and emerging jewellery designers trip off her tongue with the ease of someone who knows what she’s taking about you realise that just six months into her silversmithing, goldsmithing and jewellery BA at the University of the Creative Arts she is already engaged with the industry. More than that, she’s locked in.

Naylor’s winning design was a versatile jewellery piece with a long chain ended with two oversized floral-inspired brooches. The magic in the piece that inspired the judges – QVC jewellery buyer Gemma Savage, Professional Jeweller editor-in-chief Rachael Taylor and jewellery designer Tomasz Donocik – was its versatility: it can be worn in a multitude of positions over clothing thanks to the moveable brooch elements.

As winner of the competition Naylor has been gifted a huge mish-mash of jewellery offcuts from QVC that includes semi-precious stones, pearls and precious metals.

Naylor is as yet undecided what to do with her haul, but one idea is to make commercial jewellery that she can sell direct to the public to raise funds for her studies and other jewellery projects. That money would come in handy this summer when she plans to undertake an internship with Kelvin Birk – who she describes as her “absolute favourite” jeweller – at Cockpit Arts in London.

It would also help her to enter more jewellery industry competitions. As Naylor herself says: “If you commit to something you’ll succeed.”



This article was taken from the March issue of Professional Jeweller. To view a digital version of this issue online click here.