Shakti is one of the incredible ethical wedding jewellery designers from our directory. She specialises in exquisite fair trade wedding and engagement rings with proper heart and soul. Based in her studio in Somerset, all of her jewellery is handcrafted and receives a special ‘blessing’. She is truly passionate about her craft and her route to designing jewellery is truly a fascinating one.
Intrigued now? Well we asked her some questions for you so you can find out more…
Ethical wedding jewellery rich in ritual and romance
Hi Shakti, welcome to the Meet the Maker series thank you for taking part. We’d love to know the back story behind your business, how did it start out?
Well, it all began back in India in 1994. I was living between Japan, Thailand and India and during a visit to Pune I became very sick with a high fever. I was living in the infamous ‘White House’ guest house and a concerned fellow traveller and resident, Asi, took me in and kept watch over me. He was a jeweller and sat at a small work bench, on the floor, hammering, soldering and sawing.
I became captivated by the intricacy of the work and the beauty of the high karat gold and gemstones he worked with. When I had recovered, he presented me with the most beautiful gold and turquoise ring…I was hooked! I knew with all certainty that this was what I was meant to be doing.
From there I followed a boyfriend to San Francisco and by an act of serendipity I got a job at The Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, where I trained in the Graduate Jeweller program over the next five years. Later training with 5th Generation Armenian Master Goldsmith, Hratch Nargizian, a man of extraordinary skill and talent, who remains my mentor to this day.
Such a wonderful fascinating story! The story isn’t the only thing fascinating about your business, you describe your rings as being “rich in ritual and romance”, could you tell us more about this and what that means to you?
I sat with the Huni Quin tribe, who live in the depths of the Amazon Rainforest. They instilled in me the importance of ritual in all that you do. How all things must be created with a conscious awareness and with respect to the materials you are using, where they have come from and where they are going. To the Huni Quin all of life is prayer whether they are hunting, cooking or singing. I have described in more depth the details of how this is incorporated into my work in the question on ‘little gold prayers’.
Every ring is rich in romance from the inside out, a symbol of love a commitment. This romance is created by the ancient love songs I sing as I work, by the artisanal aspect of how they are made, the prayers bestowed upon them and ultimately to the dignity given to the miners who pull this precious metal out of the earth. Visually, this romance can be see through the delicacy of the work, the ‘secret’ hearts which are carved into the back of the engagement rings, the star settings and the milligrain edging often seen in my jewellery.
We share a lot of pretty things here on our blog, like most working in the wedding industry. The wedding industry is big business and with that there can come a price, a price that we may not always consider. When we are investing so much money into certain aspects of our wedding day it can be worth taking a minute to open our eyes (and hearts) to the reality behind the items we purchase. Most of us are aware of issues that have arisen from diamond trade but have we ever considered the cost of gold?
In 2013 our friend and jewellery designer April Doubleday visited one of the few fairtrade/eco gold mines in Colombia. She took her son Jon and filmed their adventure, producing this 9 minute long film.
Where do your wedding rings come from?
Everyone should watch this short film before before buying your wedding rings. Let’s be open and honest about where these precious and symbolic love tokens come from. That means considering who mined the gold, how it was removed from the land, and the state the environment is left in.
In your next tea break we’d love you to watch April’s film and gaining an insight into the lives of those who mine the gold for our jewellery.
“Fairtrade and its standards offer miners a better choice and a way out of poverty” – April Doubleday.
Sometimes it’s nice to take a step back from wedding planning, from all the lovely details and fun plans for this incredible celebration, and look at the deeper part of marriage. I think an important part of that is choosing where you buy your engagement and wedding rings from – of all the many items you purchase for your wedding, your rings will have one of the biggest environmental costs.
No one likes to be bombarded or overwhelmed with terrible statistics or facts about the environmental costs of something like a wedding ring, often it just makes you feel even more powerless to make a difference, but we can’t ignore that there are some pretty bad facts when it comes to conventional mining.
People Tree is one of the original fair trade clothing brands in the UK and one that I love. As ‘ethical’ and ‘fairtrade’ has become more mainstream it has been great to see People Tree’s collections grow and there to be even more choice of beautiful clothes.
I ended up on their website checking out what was in their sale when I spotted a number of dresses that I thought would make perfect summer bridesmaid dresses and knew I had to share them with you.
Please bear in mind these are currently in the January 2013 sale so they might not stay around long. Even if you come across this post later, do check out their current collections as I’m sure there will be more lovely items – www.peopletree.co.uk.
Lora V Neck Dress
This vintage inspired dress is made from a pretty floral print in 100% organic Fairtrade certified cotton and is £37.50 (50% off) in the People Tree sale. Perfect for a English country garden wedding.
It seems I’m having a bit of a 1920s and 1930s inspired day on the blog today, following on from this morning’s glamorous wedding cake I get to introduce you to the stunning new collection from CRED Jewellery. The Penelope Collection from designer Annabel Panes was inspired by the cocktail drinking ladies of the 1920s and ’30s, in particular her own grandmother.
This fabulous 13-piece collection includes engagement rings, necklaces and earrings, all created from Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold and each item set with ethically sourced gems. I particularly love the deep and rich colours of the gems used, especially the Amethyst.
Niki from CRED Jewellery told me “Annabel has taken the elegance and glamour of the 1930’s and applied a modern twist. The deep blues and reds of the precious stones are placed in delicate white gold settings that maximize their splendour and reflect the romantic elegance of the time.”
*This competition is now closed*
I’m so jealous I can’t enter this competition today – one lucky reader is going to win this beautiful string of silk bunting made from vintage sarees. This is just one of many lovely products that you can find at Ganesha, an online shop full of handmade accessories and gifts, including vintage and upcycled, all fairly produced from Indian, Bangladesh and beyond!
Each string of bunting is 5 metres long and has about 16 flags that are 23 x 21cm. Each one is unique and a riot of stunning colours, perfect for decorating your wedding venue or tent with in true vintage eco-chic style! The picture above only shows part of one string, and I think they are a beautiful alternative to the traditional floral bunting if you are after something a bit different.
Foundation Jewellery are licensed makers of fairtrade gold wedding and engagement rings, with full traceable diamonds and recycled gold and platinum available as well. To celebrate our birthday, they are offering readers 10% off their collections for a limited time period.
They stock a range of high quality and classic wedding and engagement ring designs, all bearing the Foundation Jewellery hummingbird mark. As one of the first jewellers in the world to be registered to craft using fairtrade and fairmined gold you can be sure that you are not only investing in a beautiful piece to celebrate your love, but also an ethical one.