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Jewellery student wins Nationwide Jewellers' Apprentice of the Year Award

19 Sep 2017

It takes a lot to win any Australian national competition, but when you're up against talent from New Zealand as well, you can feel pretty proud when you bring home the prize. 

Congratulations to our Certificate III in Jewellery Manufacture student, Ryan Kitchen, for winning the Apprentice of the Year at Australasia’s largest jewellery buying group, Nationwide Jewellers.

Ryan entered the award with modest expectations. It wasn’t until his employer handed him two tickets to an award ceremony in Sydney that he had any inkling he could be in with a shot.

“I didn't know if it was a ‘the top three go’ sort of deal, [my boss] just sort of said you’ve got a ticket, you and your partner are going off to the award dinner. Then, I was amazingly surprised when it was announced on the night…I was super stoked.

“It’s always odd hearing your name called out over a microphone, ‘Is that me? Or, is there another Ryan Kitchen in the room?”

This was the second time Ryan entered the award, and he thinks the experience helped him.

“I was given a design and I had to make it exactly the same,” he says.

Last year, he says: “I got really caught up on trying to make the dimensions exactly perfect, but this time I just focused on making it look exactly like the design.”

Taking the plunge into a jewellery career

Ryan has been on a bit of journey with his career. He always liked woodwork and working with his hands when he was at high school, but after university he found himself working as a land surveyor, making lots of maps. He wanted a change.

“I wanted to find something that I would enjoy a little bit and ended up stumbling across jewellery through a friend and lucked out with an apprenticeship and I’ve never looked back.”

He credits the Certificate III with helping him create pieces of jewellery using different techniques.

“My boss might show me one way to make things, and Melbourne Polytechnic will show me two or three different ways to make it as well.”

“There's such a wide range of things we touch on [at Melbourne Polytechnic], not just making things but the gemology side, we are doing a bit of CAD work at the moment, I find it all really interesting.”

“It really rounds off my education in that I see many different aspects of how to do something, which means I can tackle unfamiliar things or something I haven't done before with more confidence.”

He says the most valuable lesson he has received from teachers at Melbourne Polytechnic is to always produce the same high standard of work: “Whether it’s a platinum tiara that costs $100,000 or it's a $50 silver ring, you make it to the same standard.”

Ryan hopes one day he’ll own his own jewellery business, but first things first - he’s determined to become a fully qualified jeweller and begin making pieces from start to finish.


Media enquiries should be directed to Melbourne Polytechnic Media Officer, Anita Coia, on 03 9269 1251, mobile 0466 453 467, or ua.ud1566167144e.cin1566167144hcety1566167144lopen1566167144ruobl1566167144em@ai1566167144dem1566167144

Melbourne Polytechnic operates across seven campuses and five specialist training centres throughout Melbourne. The institute delivers high quality vocational and higher education in industry-standard facilities.

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