Behind the Scenes at Ashley Heather Jewellery
What is your name?
Where did you grow up?
Johannesburg, South Africa but I spent a lot of my childhood climbing trees and running away from Ostriches in the small farming town of Bela Bela.
What do you love about jewellery?
I have a background in fine arts, I approach jewellery just as I would a sculpture. Jewellery, however, has the added benefits of being inherently portable and of being such a intimate expression of the wearer's personality.
When did you discover your love for jewellery & how did you become a jewellery designer?
I stumbled into jewellery making quite by accident. One day I was visiting a friend and she just happened to be melting a crucible full of silver. I was completely spellbound by its shimmering viscosity. I signed up for a part time course the next day and one lesson in signed up for a full time jewellery design and manufacture course.
Describe your style, what is most characteristic about your jewellery design?
My design style is definitely very minimalist. I delight in distilling an idea down to its essential qualities. I aspire to create pieces that are timeless as well as easy wearing and that allow the material and the wearer to shine.
Which music genre describes Ashley Heather Jewellery best?
What a wonderful question, this one required a lot of thought. I'm not sure I could identify one genre but I would have to say anything easy listening; music that doesn't demand too much attention but plays in the background putting you in the kind of good mood whose origin is difficult to pin point.
If you could choose one song that describes best your jewellery, which one would you choose?
Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
What is your favourite item of your jewellery line?
I've got a few pieces that I wear all the time and feel naked without but my ultimate favourite is almost always the newest design that I'm working on at any given time.
What exciting ideas are coming up for the Ashley Heather Jewellery line? New ideas planned?
We've got tons of things up our sleeves; our ready-to-wear wedding band range is launching in a few weeks hopefully with the engagement ring range hot on its heels, all handcrafted in gold reclaimed from circuit boards of course. We also release a new collection every year come spring and I'm very excited by how the prototyping for this year is shaping up so far.
... IN THE DESIGN STUDIO
Describe a typical day in the Ashley Heather jewellery studio.
The most wonderful thing about entrepreneurship is that no two days ever look alike. They all start the same way however, with strong black coffee! I spend a fair portion of my days honing my craft but entrepreneurship also allows me to wear many hats, and my days are filled with a good balance of left and right brained work.
How do you make your jewellery?
All ‘Ashley Heather’ jewellery is handcrafted in our Woodstock work+shop using precious metals reclaimed from circuit boards by a small refinery right here in South Africa. We care about every aspect of the craft and are constantly striving for the most sustainable studio practices from the manufacturing processes right through to the packaging.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
It’s difficult for me to pin point exactly where my design ideas come from, I consume images voraciously across many different design fields. As I already mentioned I delight distilling an idea down to its essential qualities, the original design inspiration therefore comes from a diverse range of sources; the ripple on the water, a pattern graffitied onto a wall, the feel of a pebble in my hands.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST..
Ring, Earrings, Necklace, Bracelet, or Bangle?
Rings! I'm a sucker for rings!
Mountains or beach holiday?
Mountains please and if you throw in a babbling mountain stream then all the better.
What's your favourite city?
Cape Town, I am so grateful that I get to call this beautiful city home.
Do you have a favourite jewel that comes with you on all your travels?
I have one ring (our flat-topped ring in gold) that I never leave home without, it's traveled all over with me. I keep on misplacing it and yet somehow it always finds its way back to me (often in the most surprising ways).
This interview is part of our Behind the Scenes at Independent Jewellers series. To learn more about Ashley Heather Jewellery, visit the jeweller's website here.