The highest honour for a jeweller: Sheila Fleet to meet the Queen
Sheila Fleet has every reason to be smiling from cheek to cheek this year. This jewellery designer, after a 44-year career in the industry is being awarded an OBE.
The 67-year-old said: “I was very surprised when I got the letter to say I had an OBE, it was kind of surreal, I opened it in the office when there were people around and I thought, ‘Can this be real?’ I walked around holding it for a while before I took it to my house to read it again and it started to sink in”.
Sheila is no ordinary woman, wife or mother; she has an inspirational story to tell. Having left school at the tender age of 15 with no qualifications, Sheila managed to enter the Edinburgh Art School. Her passion and vision for design led her to go on and win many awards.
“The letter I received the day I got into Edinburgh Art College put the same kind of smile on my face, a warm glow that stayed for a whole day, but this honour might last a bit longer”.
Sheila began her working career at Corocraft, one of the world’s largest costume jewellery companies for eight years before returning home to Orkney in 1977. She became the first professional designer and model-maker at a local jewellery company before starting her own self-named business in 1993.
Orkney, part of the Orkney Islands may seem quite a remote area in Scotland, but over the years the company has continually grown and now has a staff of more than 50 people; all of which Sheila considers to be family.
Inspired by her natural surroundings, Sheila’s work is simple and has a comforting feel to it.
The paisley leaf has deep roots within the history of Scottish textiles that there is even a Paisley Museum and Art Gallery that you can visit. This symbol is one that Sheila has used within her collections.
The Shoreline Pebble collection was drawn years back by Sheila, but never produced until recently. “I grew up and walked on many shorelines when I was younger and always have had a fascination with pebbles and their subtle shapes and textures. When the tide comes in and washes over the pebbles they glisten in the light and have a beautiful lustre. The graduation of enamels in a sweeping shape reminds me of the sea washed pebbles in different colours”.
Being rewarded, let alone recognised for your hard work is not commonplace. In her own words, “I was extremely surprised and delighted of course, it was very unexpected and after 44 years in the jewellery industry I’m delighted, it’s the icing on the cake”.
“Sheila Fleet Orkney Designer Jewellery to receive OBE for services to the Jewellery Industry”, sure has a nice ring to it. No pun intended. Her perseverance has paid off. Sheila is the first jeweller to receive this honour. Congratulations Sheila!
View the Sheila Fleet Jewellery website here.