Silver Linings: NIC Metal Jewellery grad to launch silver guild

NIC Metal Jewellery Design student Valerie Harty stands by a display of some of the pieces she created throughout her time in the program.

Calgary-transplant Valerie Harty’s interest in rock collecting has been polished into a love for jewellery making thanks to NIC’s Metal Jewellery Design certificate.

Harty hopes to launch the experience into the North Island’s first silver guild this year to maintain her connections with a network of artists with different specialties who can share resources, relationships and client referrals.

“Jewellery making is usually very solitary work, but there’s incredible value in having a place to connect and share ideas and tips,” noted Harty, adding that the most important lesson she has learned is to be true to her passions.

“You are who you are and you love what you love,” she said. “Don’t try to change it for a market or a client because then your art won’t be fulfilling.”

Back in Alberta, Harty was interested in connecting her passions of rock collecting and jewellery making and worked to develop a silversmithing studio at the Calgary Rock and Lapidary Club.

“With rock collecting you collect the rocks and usually only show them to other rock collectors. Transforming them into jewellery allows you to showcase the pieces and bring them to a wider audience.”

When retirement brought her to Vancouver Island, it was a presentation in Parksville by NIC instructor Tracey Gibbons that introduced her to NIC’s Metal Jewellery certificate. 

“My husband looked at me and said, ‘that program is you’, and that’s how we ended up in Campbell River and at NIC,” said Harty.

For Harty, NIC’s program was both inspiring and challenging, building on the knowledge she had brought with her from Calgary and giving her not only jewellery-making skills, but also communication and instruction skills in a class of all ages. 

“The amount I learned was fantastic and the instructors were incredible to learn from. I can’t say enough about the experience,” said Harty. “I not only learned jewellery, but also some really good communication techniques. You learn the process right from the ground and you can build on it as slow or fast as you need to.”

Anyone interested in joining the new Vancouver Island Silver Guild can contact Harty at

Learn more about NIC’s Metal Jewellery Design certificate.

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