We all know that the best gifts come in small packages. The things we really treasure last a lifetime and can be passed down to the next generation; contemporary heirlooms with a meaningful story to tell.
In an effort to shop locally and support small producers and designer-makers this festive season, we’ve searched out the best creators of bespoke jewellery made in Cornwall. Each handcrafted item here is inspired by the Cornish landscape and lifestyle, so you can always carry a little piece of the land you love with you.
Whatever your style – from boho festival-goer to eco-conscious surfer, subtle everyday wear to bold statement pieces – we think you’ll find something here to love and treasure. So, share this article and start dropping hints!
Every Justin Duance piece is unique and inspired by the interface between land and sea. Wood, precious metals and sand are handcrafted into pieces which subtly change as they become at one with the wearer, “much the same way as the sea shapes the coastlines of Cornwall,” as Justin explains.
A wide range of wood inlay and sand cast items are available to buy online, but many people approach Justin and his workshop to commission their own. Customers send sand from all over the world to the purpose-built studio on the edge of Penzance. The sand is used to cast, for example, an engagement ring which bears the marks and material of where the proposal took place. “We’ve worked with sand from Mauritius, Chile, New Zealand and many other far-flung places,” says Justin, “but of course our favourite sand is the local stuff!”
To browse the current collection or find out more about commissioning a piece, visit Justin Duance.
Abigail Brown, Silversmith
From her workshop in the village of Mawnan Smith near Falmouth, Abigail Brown produces her extraordinary statement jewellery pieces and sculptural vessels (one of which has been exhibited at the V&A) using the age-old techniques of a master silversmith.
“Recently, I am increasingly influenced by my surroundings in Cornwall,” Abigail explains. “I am interested in the idea of the body as a landscape, and the landscape as the body of Mother Earth. My boxes, sculptural rings and brooches represent a small section of the female body and a piece of the wider landscape, contained within specific dimensions: like a canvas, or a geological core sample.” Abigail’s award-winning Lichen Collection is inspired by the ancient sites and standing stones in West Penwith.
Falmouth-based designer maker Amelia Frances uses sea glass, a by-product of marine littering. Amelia incorporates these accidental treasures in her range of rings, bracelets and necklaces which are inspired by the ocean – and literally shaped by it.
Yemaya Collections has just launched a new range of Ghost Net Bracelets made from discarded fishing net – a hazard for all kinds of marine life. Each is a one-off and comes with a card explaining the process and a map of Cornwall identifying where the specific net is from. £2 from each bracelet is donated to Clean Ocean Sailing – a charity based in Gweek which actively cleans the ocean along Cornish and Isles of Scilly coastlines, including some of the most hard-to-reach beaches and bays.
For ghost net bracelets and sea glass jewellery designed in Cornwall, visit Yemaya Collections.
Highly Strung is a range of gorgeous boho earrings designed and made in Penryn. Incorporating Cornish seashells, coastal colours and sometimes soft, intricate micro-macrame too, the range runs from the subtle to the downright sensational.
Ema Weston handcrafts each individual piece combining the skills of metalwork, beading and macrame to create striking patterns and colour combinations. Wherever they are worn, these earrings are bound to win compliments! We may not have made it to any festivals this year, but with a pair of these under the tree we can live in hope for 2021…
Visit Ema’s Etsy page for the current selection of handmade pieces.
There can be few jewellers with such a bewitching story as Fay Page. Based on the tiny island of St Martin’s in The Isles of Scilly, Fay and husband Rob design and make silver jewellery. Over the years their workshop has grown from a side-line to a thriving small business, employing and upskilling other islanders. Fay says: “All of our ranges are inspired by our island home and our workshop is an extension of everything we love about living on a tiny island.”
We particularly love Fay’s range of cufflinks, which include starfish, scallops, whelks and cowrie. There are also beautiful silver pendants to choose from; keep a piece of the archipelago with you wherever you go!
Shop online or visit The Lighthouse Gallery in Penzance for a selection of jewellery by Fay and several other Cornish makers.
Cornelius Jakob Van Dop
Metalworker and Master Craftsman Cornelius Jakob Van Dop was born in the Netherlands but settled in Cornwall in 1973. Employing ancient crafting techniques reminiscent of Japanese, Egyptian and Celtic goldsmiths, he crafts detailed and highly decorative copper, silver and gilded jewellery boxes. These boxes are real contemporary heirlooms – the perfect place to keep small treasures.
Cornelius also makes beautiful brooches inspired by wild creatures, natural forms and memories of landscapes, skies and moonlight.
Cornelius has exhibited at The New Craftsman in St Ives for over 30 years.
Victoria moved to Cornwall in 2002 and graduated with a first BA (Hons) degree in Jewellery & Silversmithing from Truro College in 2009.
Specialising in delicate, kinetic jewellery, Victoria’s signature items are botanical lockets which celebrate the wonderful sentimentality of that form of jewellery. Miniature articulated flowers gently emerge and unfold from within, enlivened by precious metals and diamonds. Using traditional techniques, each tiny petal is hand formed and precisely engineered to create these beautiful impressions of the natural world, inspired by Victoria’s Cornish surroundings.
Read Victoria’s artist statement and discover current pieces for sale at The New Craftsman.