A veritable treasure trove of jewels and precious metals greeted me on arrival at Polly's workshop in rural Gloucestershire where all of her jewellery is created. The quiet landscape that holds her space is a vivid juxtaposition to the infectious creative buzz that runs through her team and studio. Polly is one of the UK's top jewellery designers and I spent an afternoon finding out more about how she works and her philosophy behind her practice.
An innate maker Polly at the RCA and had a stint at prop making and sculpture before she settled upon making jewellery. Polly made wearable one off sculptural pieces for galleries and exhibitions, then Polly fashioned pieces in gold and people began to connect with her work with a much more familiar and intimate way leading her to make future heirloom pieces and selling to the bridal market globally.
The appeal or Polly's Jewellery is that not two pieces are the same and the nature of the stones and the unique casting process her and her partner have adapted create this exquisite final aesthetic. Previously having made more conceptual pieces where objects were imbeded in the precious metal band so that as you wear the rings they evolve with you. Polly does not aim for the classical perfection she explained...
I asked Polly who a quintessential 'Polly Wales Bride' was and she answered " Brides that like my work are on the whole creative with a hands on approach to life".
Within her collection rings are designed to 'stack' and come in many styles so you can build original parings of larger statement pieces with delicate bands or go all the way and wear multiple statement pieces for real wow factor. This builds the opportunity for a life long relationship with her clients who once they have one of her rings return time and time again.
Polly's creations are in constant development as she does not work in collection's but collaborates with her design team to build and push concepts continually. As she casts everything in studio she can test ideas as they come, keeping the passion and immediacy of her design in tact. Each of her designs are created with a finger print that occurs from the process they go through in the cast and these imperfections and individual marks and textures become the personality of each piece.
These rings carry an ethical element too as Polly uses where possible, recycled hand cut antique stones and also recycled gold. Finding one off and antique stones brings a different look and feel to modern manufactured precious stones and it has less impact on the environment. Each stone is hand picked for its characteristics, tone and shape and the imperfections are highly prized as features which give so much charm to these bespoke rings. This bespoke approach carries through to Polly's service to transform heirlooms for some of her lucky clients. She re- appropriates and re-design heirlooms that brides bring to her and using the stones and precious metal from these cherished pieces she creates something up to date with her clients changing tastes, a lovely way of adding a chapter to the life on an heirloom.
I asked Polly what predictions she had for trends within 2015 she replied with " Finer pieces, lighter bands and more delicate stones are becoming favourites. Also more geometric cuts are becoming popular especially baguette cut diamonds, they are having a renaissance"
Polly has her sights on a colourful and expansive future for her and her brand. She is quickly becoming a firm favourite in the American market and is heading out to L.A. next year with her team to set up shop on the west coast so catch her while you can before she leaves our blustery shores for palm trees and the boulevards of tinsel town.
I was so impressed with not only Polly's beautiful work but the life she has carved around her. Juggling her creative business, a young family and building a solid team around her, she is a shining example of tuning a creative practice in to a sustainable lifestyle. She has an incredible creative drive with an authentically artisan approach and uses her highly skilled team to translate her ideas in to reality. She is working towards building her business but also creating more time to get back to the bench and take on more personal commissions.
Find more of Polly's work here
Thank you so much to Polly, Lucy and all the team who allowed me to watch and learn at an inspiring day in the studio!