We all dream of the perfect wedding day and whether a big or small affair, there are small ways that you can consider more ethical choices for elements such as your decor, flowers and favours or just about anything you want, without having to compromise the dream day and particularly the personal touches! Let your guests know you care about the environment and how you have incorporated that into the day; that way your guests and you can enjoy the luxury even more!
I could think of no-one better to enlighten us than Jewellery designer, Kerry at Beachcomber Jewellery as to how we can consider more ethically sourced products and how your wedding can reflect you and your preferences at face value and not that of what you are expected to have!
Less and less couples today seem to have a set theme for all the reasons that are restrictive to that style. Kerry, ethical jewellery designer of 8 years has a real passion for conservation and biodiversity hence why she works only with quality recycled sterling silver. Combined with her love for beach-combing right on her doorstep where she lives on the coast, Kerry creates bespoke, personal and completely organic style collections of beautiful Jewellery including bespoke wedding pieces or wedding bands.
Kerry, as an ethical designer, what in your mind, does it mean to be ethically aware ?
I think ethical awareness is just about taking the time to think about how what you are doing impacts on the world around you. For example, when you’re making a purchase asking where have the raw materials come from? Who made this? Did they get a fair wage for making it? Is there an alternative that will have less impact on the environment? When I’ve finished with it, can it be recycled? Or will it just end up in land fill? Do I actually need it?
How do you put this into practice and why are you passionate about it?
I try to put this into practice in a number of ways. When I started jewellery making, in particular silver-smithing, I was alarmed at the chemicals involved in the process, I didn’t want to work in an environment surrounded by hazard warnings, nor did I want to be transferring those chemicals into the environment, so after much trial and error, I now have managed to cut down to one chemical, making the process much simpler and greener. I only use recycled silver and gold (except for chains – I have yet to source a supplier of recycled silver or gold chains but I am always looking) the quality is the same as sterling silver and gold, both can be hallmarked as such, but they do not have the same environmental and social impact as mined metals. I only purchase gemstones from suppliers with an ethical policy; I hate the idea that someone somewhere is being treated unfairly to provide me with a cheaper option! Until recently I wouldn’t use diamonds in any of my work because of their negative impact, but I have recently found a supplier who can not only tell me the mine the diamonds came from but also who cut and polished them, guaranteeing that everyone involved was treated fairly.
This is something I’ve always felt strongly about. My husband is a field conservationist working with invertebrates so we see first-hand the negative impact of over-exploitation of natural resources.
How does this influence the way you work as a designer and the designs that you think up, draw up and then hand craft?
My designs are generally influenced by the natural world, most often I’ll get an idea for a piece, while I’m out on the beach or walking the coast path. I then look for the resources I need, for example, I’m currently working on designs for new stacking ring sets inspired by the spring flowers on the coast path, but am struggling to find a supplier who can provide me with the right gemstone to represent bluebells, it would be so easy to compromise and buy them from anywhere but, if the supplier can’t tell me where they came from I won’t buy them.
A wedding day is traditionally known to be a day of luxury, expense and you could say, excess – nothing spared for the happy couple! From personal experience of your business how would you say we can be even a little ethical in terms of our choices when planning a wedding that won’t compromise the DREAM day?
I LOVE weddings, I think that’s why wedding rings are my favourite things to make, playing my small part in such a significant part of someone’s life is a dream come true for me. But I do feel that sometimes it’s easy to get so wrapped up in creating the perfect day that the real reason for the wedding can be overlooked.
I think it’s very easy to have your dream day whilst making ethical choices. Wedding Fairs make me aware of just how much is out there, that can seem like a necessity to create the perfect day, but I think if couples take the time to think what THEY want, what represents them and their commitment to each other and not just have ‘stuff’ because that’s what you do, that will make a big difference.
If you have your list of what’s important to you, you can then just ask yourself what you can do to achieve your dream day without placing unnecessary impact on the beautiful world around us. For example Flowers’ – using local seasonal flowers is a lovely thing to do, and petals make beautiful confetti. Favours – as much as all your guests adore you and would love a plastic keyring with your names on it, is there an alternative? personalised chocolates maybe? well appreciated on the day and no landfill! I think it’s just about taking the time to make sure that your wedding represents you and not the retail industry.
From experience of Beachcomber Jewellery what would you say were the biggest advantages of opting for ethical alternatives such as the beautiful jewellery you design and hand craft yourself?
I was speaking to a bride-to-be recently who told me that it was the expected thing for a groom to spend 3 months’ salary on the engagement ring – WHAT? Is that a thing? I did a google search and there is an engagement ring calculator out there! When did it all become about the cost?
What I’ve found from customers who choose an ethical alternative for their wedding and engagement rings, is that they are looking for something individual, something that represents who they are, something that is beautiful that doesn’t impact on the environment. I think that is the beauty of considering ethical alternatives and having something made just for you.
I love it when a customer comes to me with an idea and together we create the perfect piece of jewellery to represent them. I recently had a young lady contact me who wanted an engagement ring that included a piece of sea glass from her fiancés’ mothers collection and a diamond from her grandmothers’ ring, I loved making it for her, another couple had found a piece of quartz on the beach that I set into an engagement ring, as beautiful as any diamond and so personal to them.
As a designer and maker I’m happy to create something completely individual, even having a secret message in a traditional band ring makes it totally unique. I love to make recycled silver wedding and civil partnership rings, these are a beautiful, ethical alternative to traditional wedding rings.