New to the collection for Spring Summer 2020, we have four gorgeous pieces from sustainable jewellery brand by Emma Aitchison. We visited Emma at her London studio in Hackney Wick and caught up to find out all about her inspirations, creative techniques and organic aesthetic.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your brand?
I grew up in the South West of England and moved to London to study a degree in contemporary jewellery. After graduating I worked for many fashion and accessories brands. After about 4 years in industry I decided to go solo and step by step I made my love for jewellery into my full-time job. I have always designed and made jewellery inspired by weather and the earth's natural beauty, so it was an obvious choice for me to continue with this style. I had no doubt that the heart of the brand would be focused on sustainability values that I also live by. It took a lot of research, planning and working a few jobs at a time and saving as much as possible, I went part time and slowly but surely the brand was born. Four and half years later and here we are, I now work full time alongside my part time assistant and everything is made by us in our Bristol based studio. We now stock worldwide and in some of the best galleries in the UK. We are always thriving to be more sustainable where possible, we are always transparent in what we sell and how it has been made.
Where do you draw inspiration from when designing new collections?
Ever since University I have designed jewellery with the weather or beauty of the natural world in mind. I like to create something tangible from a non-tangible thing, such as the weather. Something we all experience but cannot hold or keep, I like this concept and the challenge of creating it into pieces we can wear. My rain and wind collection is based on this idea.
Other times I like to use the beauty of the earth to inspire my jewels, taking the ocean as an example, I aim to capture the feeling we all experience and create jewellery that reminds us of this time. Such as the joy of diving in fresh cold water, the calming sounds of the lapping waves and times spent on the beach with family, exploring and rock poling. My aim is to create jewellery which in an abstract way reminds us of these moments and in turn reminds us to respect and care for the ocean looking after it for future generations to come.
What materials and techniques do you use to create such individual and unique pieces?
All my materials are from recycled sources, my silver and gold come from antique jewellery, antique surgical instruments and off cuts, all melted down and re-purposed. I don't tend to use other materials and I don't use gemstones unless they are already in circulation. I stick to my rules of only using materials which can be repurposed or biodegraded, this way I keep a circular economy and minimise waste.
How would you describe your brand aesthetic?
My aesthetic is quite organic and fluid in form. From very flat smooth surfaces layered with more natural bends and cures. Some pieces are totally unique and will always vary from one to the next, I like to keep things natural and sympathetic to our body shapes.
We love your conscious approach to design, how are you working towards becoming a 100% sustainable business?
Well this is a tricky one, it's a bit of a minefield when trying to be 100% sustainable, sometimes you think changing one thing for something else that seems more ethical is not as black and white as that, a lot more 'natural' or 'sustainable' options can often have even worse repercussions as the original 'less' sustainable item. This is why I take my time to do a lot of research and try to cover all areas before committing to a new idea, concept or material. I try to allow myself time, each month to research and explore more and more options. I am constantly trying to reduce waste always working to a circular economy, in 2019 I decided not to work with gemstones unless they were antique or vintage. For 2020 my aims are to move away from gold plating and try to stick to solid gold, silver and brass. I am also working on a biodegradable insert for my packing instead of foam and finally I am in the process of setting up a carbon offset for each item bought via my website, meaning your item will be carbon neutral, a percentage of sales will be donated to a charity working on making the jewellery and fashion industry more sustainable.