2019! and I am proud to be celebrating twenty years as an independent jeweller. In 1999, I established my jewellery business. Since then, it has grown and shifted in many ways. Some things, however, remain constant. I still delight in sitting at my workbench. Surrounded by my many tools and my hands blackened by working with precious metals. Here, in this intimate environment, I am like an alchemist, fusing materials with emotions. In other words, a long and exciting journey.
My university studies in Jewellery Design (1993 – 1998) allowed me to travel the world. I moved from Belgium to the UK, studying in Cambridge and Dundee. Afterwards, I honed my skills on courses in New Zealand and South Africa. Together, these allowed me to experience a host of cultures, ways of learning, and different jewellery techniques.
In a nutshell
After graduating, I set-up my business in London. Designing and creating my own jewellery collections and subsequently selling these limited-edition collections through shops and galleries. Later, establishing my business in East Sussex, I joined The Guild of Master Craftsmen, participating in exhibitions and other events around the South of England. Here, my work evolved, mostly working to commission, making bespoke jewellery in gold and platinum. These days, I usually participate in one international show a year. In 2016, exhibiting my work at Meesterlijk in Amsterdam; in 2017 at Belgian Art Design in Gent; and the Wiener Schmucktage in Vienna in 2018.
Like a child in a sweetshop
Gemstones are a constant in my work. Often designing my pieces around colourful gemstones. When buying them, I look for something that sparks my interest. What is different, unusual colours and/or shapes.
Searching for individuality, especially gemstones with inclusions. A few tiny specs inside the stone or even a slight flaw, the imperfection which makes the gemstone perfectly unique, which is fitting to my work.
Relocating to Brussels in 2009. Returning to my roots. After all, I was born in the city. But above all, due to the inspiring energy of contemporary Belgian design. Following the Antwerp Six, there is a new generation of designers, working in fashion, furniture, product design, and of course, jewellery. Choosing the Dansaert district for my workshop base, the creative hub of Brussels. Ten years on, it is still my base. Creating jewellery for clients, and developing my business to specialise in custom-made jewellery.
Bespoke jewellery is where my heart lies
Creating something personal, together with customers. Giving their ideas a three-dimensional form, and realising their dream jewellery piece. After making an appointment, customer’s visit me in my workshop to discuss ideas and possibilities. Handmaking jewellery in silver, gold or platinum. From recycled precious metals or Fairmined. Every detail is discussed, occasionally sketching the jewellery for visualisation, before making it by hand. Each piece of jewellery tells its own story. It is a privilege, that customers, almost always share why they are commissioning me to make a piece of jewellery for them. This can be a joyous occasion, like an engagement or wedding. It can also be commemorative, recording love and loss; a mourning jewel. It is this human element that gives my work both power and beauty.
Sustainability in jewellery
Our planet is under threat from man-made activities. Overexploitation of natural resources will take generations to resolve. I believe it is important that jewellers are aware of the origins of the materials we use to create our jewellery. Currently, there is an increasingly vocal demand for ‘green gold’ or ‘ethical gold’ that comes from traceable, recycled precious metals, but there is also from artisanal small scale mining. For the latter, there are only two organisations working with ASM gold. Fairmined were established in 2005, Fairtrade Gold in 2011.
Fairmined is a non-profit organisation, supporting artisanal small-scale miners. It ensures social development and environmental protection for the local fauna and flora surrounding the mine.
The gold and silver used to create your jewellery, are traceable all the way back to the mine it came from. My Fairmined wholesaler is Fairever and so far my Fairmined Eco gold comes from Peru.
There are even a couple of eco mines. This means that the use of cyanide and mercury are abolished and the extraction of gold happens by means of panning or shaking. Fairmined Eco gold is ecological. As a Fairmined licensee, I only buy Fairmined Eco gold for the customers who want their jewellery created in Fairmined.
Recycled Recourced Precious Metals
Customers have two choices when ordering a piece of jewellery from me; Fairmined or recycled resourced precious metals.
Gold and silver can be easily be recycled. Since the beginning of my career, 20 years ago, this is a resource I use regularly. The recycling of precious metals is nothing new. It has been practised for centuries, where jewellery and ornaments are melted down to make new pieces.
Nowadays, scrap metals are sourced from the jewellery, giftware, medical and electronics industries, can be transformed at bullion refineries.
In this image, from Umicore, shows that gold can be recuperated and recycled from mobile phones. This is just one example of recycling precious metals. Umicore is one of my main suppliers for bullion.
Jewellery commissions take approximately four to six weeks to make. All jewellery is handmade by me in my Brussels workshop.
Customers can choose whether to have their jewellery made using recycled resources of Fairmined. It is not up to me to decide which of these two is more sustainable. I have informed you about your choices, now it is up to you to decide what is more important to you.
Your jewellery can be created in silver, gold, palladium or platinum, with or without gemstones.