When I started crafting I had no job and was looking for a quick fix to make some money. I thought to myself “I’ll just start making and selling jewellery, then I can contribute to running the house”. Now, in hindsight, that was way too optimistic but my journey from then to where I am today has been an exciting ride.
I started off making cheap and cheerful beaded things which looking back were probably better off in the recycling bin but I really enjoyed it as a hobby. For a couple of years, I continued to make these trinkets, doing a bit of hand-stamping too (to the detriment of my wrists!), until one day I decided to brave it and learn how to do some silversmithing. After learning the basics, I was combining silver and resin jewellery with real flowers. Now I really struggled with making the perfect resin items and became really uncomfortable in the knowledge that resin jewellery is, in fact, non-biodegradable plastic, so I decided to continue with silver.
I was lucky enough in 2016 to get a job working in conservation, where I advise on land management and legally protected sites across East Devon. My work gives me a thorough understanding of how we affect our environment and that what we are doing to the environment reflects what we are doing to ourselves. Being so focused on this in my day-to-day work it started to come across in my jewellery, I was only buying recycled silver sheets and wire and my pieces usually had something to do with nature or wildlife – this is when Arborea Jewellery was born. I chose this name as Arborea is Latin for ‘tree’ as I was making a lot of metal clay leaves at the time, and every animal and plant has its own Latin name.
For the last few years, I have been self-taught, honing my skills in saw piercing, soldering, stone-setting and playing around with various techniques, deciding what fitted with my brand and what I was REALLY terrible at (like enamelling!). I joined a Facebook group called Eco-jewellery makers where I found a lady who sells beautiful gems reclaimed from vintage jewellery. I noticed that most jewellers who claimed to use recycled silver weren’t using recycled silver chains so I did lots of research and found a company who makes them and shared this with the group. I also came across a few lovely people who sell responsibly-sourced gems from mines that are conflict-free and fair-trade, allowing the mines to return to nature with as minimal intervention as possible. These important materials are the foundation for all of the items I make and I feel so much more comfortable with this knowledge.
I am always on the hunt for ways to be eco-friendly, with recycled packaging, renewable electricity, re-using chemicals to clean the silver after firing, and even just around the house – I have a HUGE box of recycled toilet roll in my bathroom! So you can see that this isn’t just me trying to fit into a marketing niche but it is my lifestyle, for example, my small garden is taken up by a wildflower meadow, a vegetable patch and bird boxes.
I believe that what we do not know, we do not care about and what we do not care about we do not try to protect. This is why I include snippets of interesting information with my jewellery items, be it leaf or animal, to show that it’s not only what we wear but it’s also what we stand for.
Go to the Arborea Jewellery listing on Livewell Directory for more information.