Made to be worn: the Christchurch jeweller sculpting life into silver

Sophie Divett is an ethical jeweller who has recently moved back to Christchurch from Wellington. Taking her inspirations from nature and antiquity, she specialises in bespoke pieces using sustainably sourced metals and natural gems.

What do you make?
I’m a jeweller, and I make a lot of wedding rings and bespoke, one-off pieces. I like to make jewels that hold sentimental value for the wearer and will be worn and treasured.

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How did you get into your craft?
I studied Fine Art and always gravitated toward making tiny, delicate sculptural pieces. After graduating, something clicked and I started making jewellery in the evenings as a way to stay making and creative. Everything just sort of escalated from there.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Aside from my Bachelor of Fine Art, I’ve just finished my Diploma in Applied Arts (Jewellery Design) at Whitireia last year.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
All of the metals I use are ethically and sustainably sourced, mainly recycled from industry waste. I work with sterling silver, bronze and gold, with gold definitely being my favourite. It is a beautiful material to work with. I especially love white gold- most of the white gold you see in shops is rhodium plated to look brighter and more silvery, but naturally it has a beautiful subtle golden hue which is so unique.

My favourite tools would have to be the few that I have made myself, and older ones that have been handed on to me. Some tools get so much better with age, and you can’t beat a tool that has been customised or handmade to fit a specific purpose. A lot of these are the ones I use all the time and you can’t buy them in a shop.

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Tell us about the techniques involved in producing a piece of your jewellery
I like to use lost wax casting methods to make my pieces, because the wax allows for so much more freedom with organic shapes. I’ll usually create a model of a new piece in wax, before casting it in precious metal. After that, lots of polishing and finishing, and setting stones.

…the impressions left by the wearer as it takes the knocks of life and becomes polished next to the skin become part of the piece.

What inspires you?
I’ve always been very inspired by the natural world, and ancient artifacts. I am fascinated by the way centuries-old objects develop the marks of time through corrosion and decay, and it is uncertain where the original object ends and the hand of nature begins. I like to think about this when making many of my jewels- they are made to be worn, and the impressions left by the wearer as it takes the knocks of life and becomes polished next to the skin become part of the piece.

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Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Make beautiful things for lovely people.

Describe your creative process:
Sometimes there’s an idea first, other times I just begin with a lump of wax and see where it takes me. Either way, the best things happen when they develop organically.

Describe your workspace:
I share a workshop with two other jewellers at the back of Form Gallery on Colombo Street, in Christchurch. My bench is usually the messiest, though I prefer the term ‘creative jumble’. It’s usually covered in lots of half-made bits and pieces, any commissions I’m working on, and a scattering of interesting objects I’ve picked up at some point- rocks, bones, seeds, leaves, insects. The bench itself was made by repurposing an old bankers desk and customising it to suit my needs.

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Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I’m quite blessed with a lot of absolutely lovely customers so couldn’t possibly pick just one. I love hearing about the people behind the jewels, which is a bit hard when so much of what I do is online, so it’s always so special when people go to the trouble to tell me their stories.

What are you currently listening to? Shura – Touch.

Recommend an album: Furns – Furns (2014).

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I’m not sure about superhero, but I am pretty good at hoarding gold and precious jewels. So I’d probably be a dragon.

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What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Be prepared to persist, anything really worth doing is probably going to be difficult. But if it’s what you really want to do, do it and you won’t have any regrets.

What’s in store for 2017?
Oh, so much. This will be my first year working as a jeweller full-time since graduating, so it’s going to be all go. Right now I’m working on a new collection of engagement rings, which is so exciting, it’s something I’ve been planning for a long time. I’ve just moved back to Christchurch so am very interested in getting involved with the Christchurch arts scene, events and exhibitions and collaborations with other artists.

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Sophie has very generously offered an exquisite prize for one lucky Felt reader of a beautiful Sterling silver Annui necklace (see above). Annui in Latin means to favour or smile on, and this necklace embodies that feeling wonderfully.

To be in to win this elegant handcrafted prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Sophie’s story and her beautiful jewellery creations. The draw will be made on Friday 10 February and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Explore Sophie Divett’s ethical jewellery on Felt »

 

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54 Responses to “Made to be worn: the Christchurch jeweller sculpting life into silver”

  1. Naomi says:

    Etihical and sustainable – love love love!!!

  2. Jo winfield says:

    Looks wonderful Sophie. Congratulations on making such a fantastic range.

  3. Kirsten Anderson says:

    I love the worn look of the pieces and her advise that if thats what you want to do, do it.

  4. Susan Walker says:

    I see stunning style in your craftwork.

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