Jewellery in Orkney
Orkney has the largest concentration of craft jewellers in Scotland and their work is exported around the world. The local industry continues to grow as established firms are joined by new producers, inspired by the Orcadian landscape.
Orkney jeweller, Ola Gorie, led the way for heritage jewellery and was the first to make handmade jewellery here since Viking times. She was inspired by Norse art, such as the Maeshowe dragon, carvings in St Magnus Cathedral and a brooch found in an ancient grave in Westness, Rousay.
Now Orkney is famous for its many talented craft jewellers who draw on Orkney’s culture and natural beauty for their designs. Stunning contemporary pieces are also created in the many workshops where you can often call in and see the craftspeople at work.
Many of the jewellery brands you see in Orkney are big names in the high streets of the south: Sheila Fleet and Aurora both have outlets outwith Orkney. And one of the most famous names in local jewellery, Ortak, has been revived and relaunched after going into administration in 2013.
When you witness the sheer craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into the work by small teams of people in Orkney you realise how special some of these pieces are and how passionate the artisans are about their handcrafted products. Their work is completely different from the mass-produced pieces of jewellery made in factories across the world. Most jewellers welcome visitors to watch them work and will undertake commissions and design one-off pieces. If you can’t get out to a workshop, you will find work by Orkney’s craft jewellers in shops in the towns and around the isles. Most jewellers and silversmiths also have their own websites and offer mail order services.