Ola Gorie – jeweller, pioneer and a much-loved mother

Ola Gorie Jewellery is a genuine Orkney family business. As we approach Mother’s Day, Ola’s daughter Ingrid Tait offers some thoughts about growing up with a pioneering jeweller as a mum and her experience of being an integral part of the 'Ola Gorie Story'.

Ingrid and Ola outside the shop.

Ingrid and Ola outside The Longship.

Growing up I just thought my mum was my mum, of course. Especially as we lived in Canada until I was five, and I didn’t see much of the jewellery business. That was going on back in Orkney, under the watchful eye of my granny, Minnie Gorie.

Ola sent new designs over from time to time, but I was unaware of that as a young girl.

When the family moved back to Orkney in 1967, that changed. My mum and dad took over an old jewellery shop from a man called Bill Brough, who was retiring. It was very handy, as it was literally next door to Kirkness & Gorie, the grocers and wine shop run by my uncle Bruce Gorie, and my grandfather Pat Gorie.

Minnie, Ingrid and Ola together in 1994.

Ola, Ingrid and Minnie together in 1994.

My mum and dad named their shop The Longship – a suitably Viking name for Orkney – and it’s called that to this day. But from the start, the main thing we sold was Ola Gorie Jewellery. Suddenly mum’s name was in the shop window and on jewellery boxes and catalogues!

As I got older, I appreciated the amount of hard work both my parents put into making Ola Gorie and The Longship successful. My dad, Arnie, was happy to stay in the background, managing the manufacturing and distribution of the jewellery that Ola designed. Mum was more the public face, I suppose, though even she is quite backwards at coming forwards!

Ola Gorie at the workbench c.1970.

Ola Gorie at the workbench c.1970.

She doesn’t like to blow her own trumpet, but I’m happy to do it for her. I’m hugely proud to have a mother who is so creative and hard working. There was nothing she couldn’t do once she’d decided to do it: being a woman or even a mum to three young kids was no obstacle. She inspired me to believe that we can all achieve marvellous things if we just set our mind to it.

That’s Ola Gorie. A pioneer of the modern craft movement? Certainly. But also my much-loved mum!

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