THE COLOURFUL + SUSTAINABLE WORLD OF ALISON FERN JEWELLERY
BY ALISON FERN
Meet Alison Fern, an Independent jewellery designer with artistic intent and sustainability at her core.
The brand was conceived before I was fully aware of it. I had a full time job working for Tate (Gallery) and while this was an intellectually stimulating and creative thinking environment, I wasn’t actually creating anything myself.
Prior to that I had made my own clothes but that took up a lot of space and time and I wanted something a bit more manageable. There used to be this Aladdin’s Cave of a shop in Covent Garden called The Bead Shop and after my first trip I was hooked.
Ultimately I started making jewellery I would like to wear myself - I think that’s where everyone starts. You are the only model you have, so layering yourself up with necklaces and earrings is the best way to experiment and gage other people’s reactions. The reactions were positive and I started hand-making pieces after work and in my spare time and sold them to my friends and colleagues.
I always say that the art world influenced the brands conception, and my jewellery started as mini artworks. While most of the time I look at my jewellery and I don’t think there is an obvious link between the art world I experienced and the jewellery I make, to me art and fashion are completely interlinked and art is anything that has creative intent.
I grew up in a house around a five minute walk from a beach in Suffolk but have always felt destined for city life. I think I’m still living between the two contrasting environments in my head, having times where I crave the hustle and bustle then days or weeks at a time staying in my London suburb and barely venturing further than my local park. I’ve come to realise that the creative journey can as easily be influenced by your day to day surroundings as it can an art exhibition or a more obviously inspiring experience.
I would say I have a thrift mentality coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit. When I started making jewellery all those years ago the narrative around thinking sustainably by definition wasn’t as loud - but it has never felt comfortable to me to generate waste. Even then small pieces of chain were repurposed as one-off earrings and rejected beads were sold as bracelet making kits for children.
For me, sustainability is a mindset, attitude and an ongoing journey. It is a commitment I make every day through the many decisions made as a small business. Each choice, no matter how small, contributes towards an economy and society which values people, all living things and our environment. This is everything from using recyclable packaging, to working with suppliers who share my values. A couple of years ago my main (UK based) supplier switched to supplying components in small recyclable packets. This is a particularly big thing when supplying jewellery components as the seal on a plastic packet is the most effective in safeguarding supply. Attention to detail and small shifts can make a huge difference.
An important and creative part of the brand aesthetic is the never ending mixing of materials. I have got braver with this as the brand has developed. Whether it be defying conventions and mixing silver and gold or introducing glass to be worn as earrings, I am constantly challenging what constitutes as jewellery - but striving to make it everyday wearable.
I use luxury materials like sterling silver and gold fill within my Collections because of their quality and longevity, again bridging the gap between playful and classic.
The pandemic has definitely influenced the brand’s creative direction and more recently I have been expanding the playful side of the Collection. I don’t think we need to see ourselves as fixed to this style or that style, and my brand aims to straddle both a more classic and minimal aesthetic and a creative and playful response to the world we live in.
The Peppers and the Magic earrings are firm favourites, all made from glass which is of course a fun material and created without disturbing the natural environment. These vibrant pieces are popular with the Lone Design Club forward thinking customer. I love to mix these playful pieces with minimal and classic designs such as the Jenny chain necklace.
An idea I have been toying with for a while is to create a series of charms which can be clipped onto your own jewellery (or the links of the Jenny or George bracelet) making your jewellery work harder for you. These charms allow the customer to still have that feeling of something new and fresh (which lets face it we still do all crave) but breathing new life into something you already have. I strongly believe that as part of thinking sustainably, we all also need to work towards renegotiating the concept of ‘new’.
The charms will be first available with the LDC at the Westfield Store.
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