NIC metal jewellery design student Valerie Harty stands by a display of some of the pieces she created throughout her time in the program. Photo courtesy NIC

Campbell River NIC grad to launch Island-wide silver guild

‘You are who you are and you love what you love,’ says Calgary-transplant Valerie Harty

Calgary-transplant Valerie Harty’s interest in rock collecting has been polished into a love for jewellery making thanks to North Island College’s Metal Jewellery Design certificate, and now she wants to help share that love far and wide.

“Jewellery making is usually very solitary work, but there’s incredible value in having a place to connect and share ideas and tips,” Harty says, 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. 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,” she says. “Transforming them into jewellery allows you to showcase the pieces and bring them to a wider audience.”

And 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,” she says.

For Harty, NIC’s program was both inspiring and challenging.

It built on the knowledge she had brought with her from Calgary and gave 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,” Harty says. “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 who shares Harty’s love of silversmithing and jewelery making and is interested in joining the new Vancouver Island Silver Guild she’s trying to start up to help spread her love of her new art form can contact her by email at

And to learn more about NIC’s Metal Jewellery Design Certificate, go to

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