RJ’s Siobhan Holt chats to designer Marie Walshe from Sorrel Bay Fine Jewellery about her efforts to promote ethical jewellery.
Q: How did you get into ethical jewellery?
A: As a child, I was taught to live life as ethically as possible, it was something my parents believed strongly in. For the future of this planet we all need to consider our individual impact on the globe. My children already know the simple rule that one by one, we can change the world. It is the actions of the individual in great numbers that can make the change, so we are all individually very powerful and we must always believe in that.
Q: Why is ethical jewellery so important to you?
A: As a child I was creative and I have always crafted things by hand. My dream was to become a goldsmith, and here I am! Even though my life’s journey as a jeweller and a goldsmith has led me to work with precious materials, there has always been an underlying responsibility for me to source my materials ethically. Traceability is vital, it’s important that the end user knows where, who and how the product has come into their possession and I truly hope that by becoming an ambassador for change within the industry more people will begin to ask vital questions. The atrocities within mining industries are horrifying. No woman wants to own a piece of jewellery that is a product of injustice. Simply put, human rights and responsible mining practices are the only way forward.
Q: Tell us more about the brand?
A: Since launching Sorrel Bay in October 2015, the brand has had a fantastic start and has been well received by both the industry and the public. Our focus is always to provide highly skilled craftsmanship using ethically sourced fine materials. Our work is inspired by ancient techniques that have been used by craftsman for thousands of years. Creating precious, one-of-a-kind pieces that will stand the test of time and become future heirlooms is very special to me. At the moment, the market is very saturated, in all fields, so our ethos of producing precious pieces that are totally unique and have provenance and traceability gives them, not only sustainability but authenticity. We are very proud of this fact and hope this integrity will continue to propel the brand forward as a brand to trust.
Q: What are your future plans for the business?
A: I fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition last year exhibiting at the prestigious Goldsmiths Fair in London. I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with true jewellery lovers about ethical jewellery. My passion for my work is very strong, and my enthusiasm for its ethics is such that I have a lot to talk about! It is great when you have a captive audience who truly are interested. Spreading the word out to the consumer is the task ahead.