Buying a piece of handmade jewellery is like buying a little piece of love. There’s something almost magical about something that’s been created by hand. Each piece is very slightly different and carries the mark of the maker which makes it truly unique and something that no one else will have.
When I’m developing a new jewellery collection I like to start by thinking about how my customers will respond to each design. I love to experiment and to challenge myself to be the best that I can, but ultimately it’s the wearer’s relationship with each piece that really matters. I want other people feel good when they wear my jewellery and it’s important to me that they find the ‘perfect piece’ (or pieces!) when they buy my work.
The making itself is highly absorbing and you can get lost in process trying to realise your vision, but when I’m making I’m also thinking about how each piece I create will work when it’s worn. After all, I’m making jewellery for my customer and not for me. At the back of my mind I’m always thinking about the jewellery she likes to wear, how she wears it and how it will fit into her life.
The design process is critical and there are lots of factors to consider. How will it be worn? Is it an occasion piece or something for everyday? How versatile is it? From a practical point of view, but also in the sense that it will work with other pieces that the buyer already owns.
Is it durable? We’ve all broken or lost a piece of jewellery in our lives so I try and think about how they’ll wear it and how it itself might wear over time. The longevity of my jewellery is really important to me so I’m always happy to give my old pieces some TLC if they need them. It might be as simple as a new chain and a polish or as much as remodelling and reworking a design to give it a new lease of life. Looking after your jewellery ensures it will last longer which is obviously more sustainable, but also means that you have those heirloom pieces that you can pass onto your children. And everyone loves jewellery with a backstory, right?!
Of course it’s also essential that the jewellery is comfortable to wear. I almost always include some statement pieces in my collections so I want to ensure that they’re as lightweight as possible even though they’re big. I usually test wear the pieces to work out where there might be problems….is there a sharp edge that is always catching on clothing or a piece that jangles around and starts to become annoying?
All of these aspects are important considerations when I’m developing my collections and it takes time to get it right. It is a continual process of testing and tweaking that can take several months, but it means that when you invest in a piece you’re buying something that’s been carefully and consciously created and that’s something really special.
I’d love to know what buying handmade means to you. Do you make a point of choosing pieces that have been crafted by hand or is it the design that appeals and you don’t really mind how it’s been made?
Elin Horgan is a designer & maker of beautifully simple handmade jewellery, crafted from sustainable materials in her Bristol studio.