Staffordshire jewellery manufacturer teams up with Keele University

Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP)* is helping Staffordshire-based jewellery company Hailstones Designs to move into overseas markets.

Owner and designer Sue Hailstones handcrafts unique pieces of jewellery, taking her inspiration from history.  Through KRISP, Sue has the support of two university students who are working as Research, Development and Innovation Associates on designing and marketing her new collection of unisex jewellery inspired by Viking history.

Jake Kemp, currently completing a Masters degree in International Business at Keele University, is working on a marketing plan to get Sue’s collections into the Swedish and Italian markets.  The other student, Henry Partridge, is currently studying history at York University.  Henry has been blind since the age of 16 and is providing design ideas for Sue’s new Viking inspired collection. 

Sue comments: “The support from Keele is a real partnership between myself, Jake and Henry. It’s inspiring to work together and we are making great progress with the new designs.”

Henry adds: “People asked me what I could bring to the table because I can't see, as obviously there is a visual element to jewellery, but for me the beauty goes beyond that as things such as the weight of the materials, the individual components and the textiles all appeal to me.  I've never had the opportunity to do anything like this before and while I don't know of any blind jewellers, I'd love to be the first."

Keele student Jake comments: “This project has enabled me to apply my academic knowledge in a real life working context.”

Rob McKay, Project Manager for Keele’s KRISP Programme, said: “Our project with Hailstones is a fantastic example of our support.  Henry and Jake are showing the power of student and graduate talent being harnessed for small businesses.  Sue's innovation is reaching beyond our usual notions of science and technology and resonates with the creative energy of Stoke-on-Trent’s City of Culture bid."

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent businesses can benefit from a range of specialist support and funding. Interested companies should contact the University’s Business Gateway on 01782 733001 or email

For further information regarding Hailstones, please visit their website:

ERDF logo *The KRISP project (ref: 32R16P00711) is part-funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds England Growth Programme 2014-2020.