Catherine Best is so much more than the name for a company; it is now a 2 generation family business. The professionalism of the whole team is underpinned by the friendship, understanding and trust that are at the core of a happy family environment, an environment that sprouted from simple roots coupled with a great deal of hard work to produce some of the world's most fascinating and beautiful Jewellery.
All of the Jewellery we create is designed entirely by hand by either Catherine or her daughter Vikki, the inspiration flowing through the end of a pencil in the traditional method to become the beautiful item of Jewellery you will wear and treasure every day. Their skill at designing both limited edition and one off designs people fall in love with as well as understanding the visions of clients with a bespoke commission in mind is second to none.
From an early age Catherine was determined to find a vocation she could do with her hands and enjoy every day of her life. Knowing in her heart that jewellery design was her calling she attended a night course in Guernsey and after only an hour she was hooked. Catherine then attended a jewellery design course at Medway College in Kent for 4 years and, after winning the prestigious Goldsmiths Designer Award, she returned to Guernsey in 1987 to create the Catherine Best brand with a passion for creating unique jewellery of the very highest quality.
Taking inspiration from Gemstones and Diamonds Catherine brings them to life in the most interesting ways possible. She combines her contemporary designs with a practicality that allows the wearer a beautiful piece of designer jewellery that they wear every day of their lives. Catherine also draws inspiration for designing from her love for life and the natural world that surrounds her island homes in Guernsey and Jersey.
Growing up in a world filled with creativity and colourful gemstones it was of no surprise that Vikki has embarked on a career in jewellery design. At a young age she used to look at Catherine's sketchbooks and found them so fascinating that by the time she was 11 her mind was made up. Following school Vikki studied Silversmithing, Goldsmithing and Jewellery at the University of the Creative Arts (Formally known as Medway College!) in Kent.
Besides her design prowess Vikki is skilled in enamel and silver work and has followed in her Mother's footsteps having already been a winner of a number of awards. In 2013 she won a Gold Award at the Goldsmiths Craft and Design Awards for a design entry into a 3 dimensional finished piece category. Vikki finds her inspiration comes when she loses herself in the design process and finds particular inspiration in tourmaline, her favourite of all the gemstones.
The manufacturing process at Catherine Best is handled by one of the most highly qualified workshop teams in the business. The Guernsey workshop is led by Phil Horton, recognised as a "Master Goldsmith" by the Dutch Guild of Goldsmiths and the only FIPG (Fellow of the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths) recognised as a "Master Jeweller" in the UK. The latter accolade was bestowed on him due to his unusual role of making up the pieces and then setting the gemstones in the Jewellery, this way of working is somewhat of a rarity in the jewellery trade. As a rule, a Jeweller sticks to their specific area of expertise; one jeweller will make the basic piece, one will specialise in making the mounts (for any gemstones) one will set the stones and one will polish the finished work. In the case of Phil, and thanks to Catherine's own philosophy from her years at the bench, he will be responsible for manufacture from start to finish, performing all the skills required to bring the jewellery design to life.
Phil, who now splits his time between Guernsey and London, has a further 3 staff with him in Guernsey who are all embracing this method of manufacture, enormous pride is felt by them in being responsible for the creation of the finished treasure from the day they are given the design to when it goes onto display.
Paul Tranter is the head Jeweller in our Jersey workshop, his passion for making began at a young age while he attended Hautlieu Grammar school where he became very keen on metalwork. The enjoyment of this subject led to Paul taking up a 5 year apprenticeship on the island to become a Goldsmith. In 1984 Paul left Jersey to live in Kent and started a trade workshop in Canterbury that handled repairs and adjustments to jewellery for a number of Jewellery retailers. Paul was made a Freeman of The Goldsmiths Company and a Freeman of the City of London in 1988. In 2009 Paul and his wife decided they wanted to move back home to the Channel Islands and due to a position at the Jewellers bench being available in Guernsey at the time his journey with Catherine Best started in the Guernsey workshop before moving back to Jersey in 2014.
Paul relished the idea of producing more design orientated jewellery rather than the traditional items he had been used to in his trade business. This new practice and belief was rewarded in 2011 when Paul was made a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths being recognised, in particular, for his diamond mounting. Paul's "encyclopaedic" knowledge of all things relating to jewellery is uncanny and often a source of amusement to his fellow makers! If anyone has any gaps in their arsenal in tackling a challenging question or finding a solution to a puzzle about an item, 9 times out of 10, Paul has the answer.
Having grown up in a family of Jewellery professionals jewellery had always been Gemma?s main passion so it came as no surprise that she decided to move into the industry following her graduation in Textiles from Norwich school of Art and Design in 2008. Her design practice was centered on luxury couture millinery and caught the attention of high profile magazines and the media.
Gemma worked for 5 years as a jewellery designer for a multi award winning jewellers in the UK before moving to Guernsey to join the design team at Catherine Best. She now divides her time between designing bespoke pieces for our clients as well as focusing on Catherine Best?s timeless stock creations.
Taking her inspiration from a love of art deco and art nouveaux styles Gemma has a unequivocal passion for anything and everything that sparkles with yellow diamonds, emeralds and mandarin garnets her favourite gemstones.