Independent Business of the Month - Jewellery designer Michael Birnie always aims for enduring classic look

Michael Birnie at work in his shop in Bury.
Michael Birnie at work in his shop in Bury.
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Whenever award winning jewellery designer Michael Birnie creates one of his stunning pieces, he always aims for an enduring classic look.

Mr Birnie, who has worked with top names in the business and once resized Princess Diana’s engagement ring, explains: “My style has definitely got to be about simplicity and wearability but you hoping you’re creating pieces that will look good for the future.

“Every time you’re seeking to design a ring, you’re always hoping it’s going to be a classic.”

Bridal wear is his speciality, which he produces from his premises in Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds, in platinum, 18 and 14 carat as well as palladium.

He also sells other designers’ work in steel, anodised aluminium and silver including PUR, Step by Step, Linda Macdonald and Shaun Leane.

Mr Birnie honed his craft through an apprenticeship linked to the Glasgow School of Art and later studied traditional diamond mounting at the Sir John Cass School of Art, in London.

He then went to work for highly skilled Danish craftsman Leo de Vroomen, Geoffrey Turk and Roger Doyle making eye catching pieces for the West End.

While working for Geoffrey Turk, he resized Princess Diana’s engagement ring.

His move to Suffolk came when he got the chance to work for designer Paul Spurgeon in Clare.

Mr Birnie remembers: “After that I had an uncle who went out to New Zealand in the 1970s on the £10 ticket.

“He left me enough money to build a studio in Bury and make my first collection in 18 carat gold.

“Then I started travelling around the UK sellling our own product.”

He opened the Hatter Street shop nine years ago.

Mr Birnie says: “We always wanted to aim for our own shop and deal directly with the customers.”

He has been a finalist in the UK Jewellery Awards four times and was named designer of the year in 2003, which he describes as a ‘great thrill and very good for business’.

Mr Birnie has started to explore developing silver pieces inspired by the work of architect Gaudi following a trip to Barcelona.