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Relatively Speaking: Brona Spencer

Husband and wife team, Brona and Dan Spencer from Whitehead, are directors of Steensons Jewellers, which is based in Glenarm and Bedford Street, Belfast. As well as creating fine jewellery, the company has more recently provided eye-catching items for the blockbuster TV series Game Of Thrones. They have one daughter, Myah (3)

Name: Brona Spencer Age: 34

Occupation: Jewellery designer Relationship: Wife of Dan

My parents, Bill and Christina Steenson, set up the company in 1976 and when we were small they brought us along to the workshop with them, so I grew up in the business. They recently retired and Dan and I are now managing the company.

I met Dan when I started my degree in Fine and Applied Art at the University of Ulster in 1997. He was on the same course and had dated a very good friend of mine a few years earlier, so I knew of him but had never met him.

We got talking because of that and as Dan was a bit shy, it was about month before he asked me out.

I had worked in the shop as a Saturday girl and shortly after I graduated my parents asked me to step in temporarily as assistant manager and that was it, I never got out. Dan started training in the company as a goldsmith about a year later. We both design and Dan makes the jewellery.

We were thrilled to be asked to make a number of pieces for the first series of Game of Thrones, and things have really just gone from there.

Fans of the show will be familiar with the lioness pendant (right), often worn by Cersei, and the smaller version of it that was given by Joffrey to Sansa in series one.

I worked on the computer-aided design part of this piece, sculpting the lion's head, before Dan cast it in sterling silver and added the detail by hand, before finishing it in gold plate.

We've just finished series four and in total have designed about 20 items.

There is definitely a buzz about the show and it has brought so much to the Northern Ireland economy and for us as a small business. It is great to be working on something that is completely different. It's challenging for me and you do get to push your own boundaries.

It's nice sharing the same interest and job as Dan. We fell into it quite naturally and it is not something that we have ever found terribly stressful.

Mind you, when you see your husband sending emails at 11pm at night or working on something on a Sunday, you appreciate what he is doing for the business.

We do try to keep home and work separate, but we don't always succeed and there will be shop talk around the table.

It is never going to be possible to completely separate it, but we do try and have family time, especially with our daughter."

Name: Dan Spencer Age: 35

Occupation: Jewellery designer

Relationship: Husband of Brona

A few years before Brona and I got together I went out with a friend of hers and that ended up as a conversation starter. We teamed up on projects, then started to date.

We are both involved in different aspects of the business. Brona is one of the most experienced people using computer-aided design in the UK. She would work on designs in Belfast and then I would make them in our workshop in Glenarm.

We knew the head costume designer for Game of Thrones and they were having trouble getting someone to make jewellery so they commissioned us to do a piece for the first series in 2008. The first job was quite a difficult one. It was a chain of office made in bronze of miniature hands overlapping and it weighed about 10 kilos. It took two weeks to make and was shown for about three seconds in the first scene of the series.

I think they were quite surprised when they saw the quality of what we produced. The work is quite different and challenging and you have to use all your jewellery-making skills.

I like the fact that Brona and I work together. I don't think we would see each other half as much if we didn't.

Belfast Telegraph


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