Pip Stent On What Ethical Jewellery Means To Her

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | Features

Image: Pip Stent photographed by Annie Hamilton.

Sydney based designer Pip Stent makes jewellery that you could live in every day. Drawing upon timeless silhouettes with a modern twist, her pieces can become like an extension of yourself — a way to underscore your personal uniform, without feeling too fussy. It makes sense that Pip would approach design in a slightly different way too, given her background in art history and general appreciation for a sense of unpredictability. Committed to sourcing Australian recycled metals and minimising waste wherever possible, Pip is one of our new favourite designers.

So we asked for her thoughts on what ethical jewellery means to her, why handmaking all of her pieces is an important part of the process and how she got into jewellery making in the first place. Reflecting on her responses, we are left more inspired than ever and can’t help but feel just that little bit more optimistic about the future of fashion, when in the hands of such thoughtful young designers.

Rosie Dalton: Can you tell us a bit about how you first got into jewellery design?
Pip Stent: With no idea about jewellery making I enrolled in gold and silver smithing and Art History at the ANU but dropped the gold and silver smithing within a week because I was impatient and preoccupied with living in a new city and making friends. Towards the end of my degree I went back and did a couple of jewellery electives that I loved, which led me to apply for a job making jewellery at Dinosaur Designs. I learnt so much on the job, as well as studying traditional jewellery manufacturing at the Design Centre Enmore.

Rosie: Why is handmaking your pieces something that’s so important to you as a designer?
Pip: I find the process of making something from start to finish energising and very satisfying. I enjoy each step, starting with drawing and slowly building that into a tangible thing. I’m not really sure why, but an item that is handmade always feels really special to me.

Image: Pip Stent photographed by Annie Hamilton.

Rosie: You describe your jewellery as “unpredictable” — can you elaborate a little on this and tell us about how you seek to introduce a point of difference into your designs?
Pip: Jewellery making requires precision and a lot of patience, however I’m quite an impatient and impulsive person, so I think this clash makes it interesting. I use traditional techniques, but my work is often asymmetrical and experimental in terms of shape and form. Most of my earrings are sold singularly, for example, because I want the wearer to choose their own way to wear them.

Rosie: In what ways does the label also draw from traditional gold and silver smithing techniques as well?
Pip: Most of the techniques I use like casting, hand forging, soldering, polishing and stone setting are techniques that have been around for thousands of years. Apart from a few tools like my micro motor and my hand torch, the majority of my work is made using pliers, files, a saw and a hammer.


Rosie: To what extent do you think that your art history background helps to inform your overall design approach?
Pip: I think that it made me realise that I wanted to be making the work rather than reading about it. It has also been a reference for me when experimenting with form and ideas. I think that it has probably sparked my initial interest in the history of precious gold and silver objects too. 

Rosie: What does ethical jewellery mean to you?
Pip: Using my knowledge to make jewellery in a way that has as little negative impact on people and the environment as possible. I try to achieve this by using local suppliers, recycled metals and ethical gemstones, as well as producing on a made to order basis. 

Image: Pip Stent photographed by Annie Hamilton.

Rosie: And why is using recycled silver and gold such an important part of your process?
Pip: The jewellery industry is quite far behind other industries in terms of sustainability, specifically because of the processes involved in mining and refining metal. By sourcing recycled silver and gold, a lot of those harmful processes are skipped. I have also found that my big bag of scrap metal is where most of my designs come from. I’m constantly making and abandoning designs and forms, then revisiting them months or years later. Sometimes its just my scraps or little clippings that end up inspiring my favourite pieces. 

Rosie: Finally, which are your personal favourite pieces from the collection and why?
Pip: I always wear my Oh Oval Earrings. They are subtle but I like to wear the little Wiggle Pearl Sleeper in my second ear piecing and hook them through the big oval. Unhooking yourself after a night out can be a bit tricky I must confess!

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