ABOUT NORTHUMBRIA GEMS
Northumbria Gems was established in 2010, when I began handcrafting the natural stone and gemstone I found locally in the north-east of England, into jewellery.
Already having a lovely, ongoing collection of genuine sea glass from years of trips to beaches along our North East coast, I added handmade sea glass jewellery to my range.
My first interest in geology was inspired early on, when prospecting (‘fossicking’) for gemstones with my family in the gem fields of Queensland, Australia. It was exciting to find raw gemstones such as amethyst, sapphire and smokey quartz, and my father subsequently began gem-cutting using our finds (you can see some fine examples of the more recently-cut Queensland sapphires here).
JEWELLERY WITH A DIFFERENCE:
Using lapidary (stone-cutting) techniques to handcraft my British stone and gemstone jewellery means I can also guarantee that the stone cabochons are sustainably and ethically made. I have since added silversmithing to these skills, so that I can offer jewellery pieces which are handmade from design to completion (for example, in my made to order range), as well as increase my use of ethical silver.
I continue to use local and natural resources in my jewellery, collecting these sustainably by hand, either by the North Sea along Northumbria’s natural and unspoilt coastline, or among Northumberland’s wild, remote hills.
COLLECTION OF NATURAL STONE & NORTHUMBRIAN SEA GLASS:
A BIT MORE ABOUT THE MATERIALS:
Natural British stone & gemstone
I use a variety of natural stone and gemstone in my jewellery, such as quartz, carnelian, jasper, flint, agate and fossil stone, which I collect by hand here in Northumbria, northern England. I cut and hand-shape, or sometimes just polish, each raw stone individually, before setting it in silver or silver-plated settings.
Though identifying rocks and minerals exactly can sometimes be difficult, due to their variety, and often similarity, each stone is identified to the best of my knowledge, supported by careful reference. I follow the UK guidelines on the collection of natural resources from our region and coastline, to ensure that our natural environment is preserved.
Northumbrian sea glass
I use only genuine sea glass in Northumbria Gems jewellery (never machine-tumbled glass). Some is evidence of the North East’s earlier industrial heritage and famous glassworks, a glassmaking tradition carried on to this day by Sunderland’s National Glass Centre. Other sea glass I collect can come from discarded bottles, decorative glassware, even industrial glass, which at one time found their way into the sea.
This British sea glass has been shaped and frosted naturally by the tumbling action of the North Sea's waves over many years, before being washed up by the tide onto our beaches and pebble shores, where I collect it myself by hand.