It all started in a small jewellery shop in Norfolk, UK. It was 2015 and I was on a staycation. We’d found ourselves inside this quaint jewellery shop and I couldn’t take my eyes off of the store owner; she was demonstrating how to make stunning vibrant coloured glass beads. I’d never seen anything like it. The colours were electric; blues, greens, reds and oranges. I was utterly enthralled.
Taking a step into the world of jewellery...
That shop had struck up a match inside of me. As soon as I returned home to Hampshire, I started searching for a class so that I could create these gorgeous beads for myself. I’d already been making my own beaded jewellery for years, but nothing at this level.
Lo and behold, I found a class not too far away. I had high hopes - this was going to be THE THING.
Except… It wasn’t. As much as I loved watching those intricate glass beads being made, doing it for myself was a whole different story. Keeping the glass level while having a flame dangerously close to my face and trying to maintain my cool under the threat of popping glass (yep, that really happens) wasn't for me. But, rather than letting it dissuade me from the destination, it propelled me down a slightly different path: silversmithing.
Second time lucky?
I had connected with a local silversmith in Chichester, and it was here that I took part in my first silversmithing class. Under her expert guidance, I made my first ever silver ring… And I adored it. I knew that this was a practice that I needed to explore more and more. But where?
Who doesn’t love a bit of adventure?
As I became more and more absorbed by the world of silversmithing, I decided to take my experience further afield; enter Taos, New Mexico.
We were moving into another school holiday - February 2016 - and I made the bold choice to swap a visit to my in-laws for a silversmithing course in the high desert of southwest America. Not only is it a mesmerising location, but it’s also home to a bonafide art community. The town attracts artists from all over the world; furniture, tin work, pottery and everything in between, it’s the ultimate place to spark your creative flame. Needless to say, it was the ideal spot to dig deeper into jewellery making.
So, I made the trip alone, driving through the rugged mountains and vast desert on the open roads. To say it was beautiful doesn’t do it justice. The sunsets and landscapes took my breath away.
Falling in Love with Turquoise
My teacher - a jewellery artist and expert stone setter - had been making gorgeous jewellery for over 50 years and specialised in setting unusually shaped stones. She taught me so much; how to solder, file, make bezels (the silver around the stone) and how to set stones.
Setting my first Turquoise Ring
However, the thing I am most grateful for is how she introduced me to the wonders of turquoise. I remember the day as it was yesterday; she had taken me to a local stone shop, keen to show me the plethora of gemstones housed in Taos. I opened the long, wide drawers and was blown away - they were filled end to end with turquoise in electric, mesmerising and quite unbelievable shades. Nothing could have prepared me for those amazing colour variations.
Turquoise DrawersPrior to that moment, I’d always believed that turquoise was a standard blue stone. The reality was compelling - from beautiful light blue, to dark blues, right through to striking greens. I also saw stones speckled with matrix (the spider web lines from the host rock) and covered in pyrite (gold and silver flecks). There was no going back: it was my stone. This was the way I wanted to move my jewellery making and silversmithing.
Turning it into a reality.
The great thing about those stones is that they were all mined in the USA - my home country. I decided that I would primarily work with American turquoise and that this would be more than a hobby: it would be my life.Turquoise Ring Selection
Since that first trip to New Mexico, I have never looked back. I have been making bespoke jewellery ever since and I return to New Mexico on an annual basis to learn more, discover new stones and refill my inspiration tank.
Working with these magnificent stones brings me never ending joy - and seeing the happiness my pieces bring to my customer’s lives is like nothing else.