Jeweller in Focus: Issue. 16
1st Week, July 2023
Susan Ewington Jewellery
Established in 2007, Susan Ewington Jewellery has specialised in hand-crafted jewellery highlighting modern influence on pieces with timeless design. Based in Noosa, Queensland – Susan has been paving her way in the industry utilising sustainable resources and ethical practices to source her materials. Thus emerging to become an influential business with immense growth ahead.
Finding the Feeling of Home
Susan grew up on the Sunshine Coast, and initially moved to Brisbane following her passion of photography. However, as time went by, she realised that photography was not the path she wanted to take due to the overtly digital nature of the craft. Thus, began her sabbatical in the journey of finding jewellery making. After moving to Byron Bay and then Melbourne, she explored the idea of jewellery making as she remembered her mother’s “amazing collection of vintage and antique jewellery that she would meticulously care for”. She started learning about jewellery making by studying for an Advanced Diploma of Engineering and Design [Jewellery] at Tafe, and from the very first day when she saw the interactions between fire and metal – she knew that “this was it”. She had found what she had been looking for.
After moving back to Noosa, she completed the greatest feat of moving into her current jewellery studio. A massive feat, after launching into a new industry whilst raising two beautiful children. This studio is now the home of all of Susan’s stunning Jewellery, and the birthplace of all of her timeless pieces.
Conquering the Challenge of a Unique Stone
Susan loves the challenge of tackling intricate stones with “unusual cuts or combinations of gemstones”. As such, this is where she begins the inspiration for most of her jewellery. “Challenging balance and symmetry” and discovering the “visual harmony” which exists embedded deep within the facets of each stone are paramount to her jewellery design – and are a testament to the creativity which Susan details in each of her pieces. “Textures and embellishments” that Susan includes within her pieces are often “inspired by her love for historical jewellery and symbology”. Then, in order to breathe life into pieces of the past, Susan incorporates her touch to embrace a contemporary and timeless take on each of her pieces.
Another factor which Susan always regards when she makes a piece of jewellery is the ethics and sustainability of her pieces. ” Every decision in business starts with assessing my own values and ethics”. Recognising that Susan runs a small business, she tries to create jewellery which aligns with both her own and “her client’s values”. Susan tries her hardest to “make better choices to implement change and support sustainability at a ‘grassroots level’”. With any of her pieces, it is clear that Susan prefers “quality over quantity” and always tries to “support local industry suppliers”. Susan only makes “bespoke customs, remodels, and very limited runs of stock pieces.” Thus, “there’s no chance of overproduction”.
“I believe the only way forward is for us all to support businesses that align their values with more concern or thought for the greater good of people and planet”
Past, Present, and Future
Susan has a plethora of experience in many different fields. One of her biggest passions was photography. “Before I discovered jewellery, I studied photography at university”. However, this was in the period when photography was still done using film. An aspect of the craft which she absolutely adored, however, after the implementation of digital photography, the craft became less appealing. A factor which we are all thankful for, as she has created amazing jewellery, and without her experiences, she would not have discovered jewellery making.
Today, Susan continues to follow the artisanship and craft of jewellery making. She maintains an “aesthetic which is modern, and yet still fitting into the realm of being timeless”. One motivator that Susan had to make jewellery was that the jewellery she wanted to wear either didn’t exist or was too expensive. As a response to this dilemma, her creation of pieces is “comfortable and practical because that’s how she’d like her jewellery to be”. With Susan’s talent, she has created pieces which are “more contemporary, yet still easily blend in with someone’s broader personal collection of treasures”.
Looking forward to the future, Susan has a very “go with the flow” approach. Although she has plenty of goals for how to progress into the future – Susan recognises the importance of a work/life balance. A reality which will be full-time for at least another 12 years as she raises her two adorable children. However, Susan would love to eventually teach or train some people though. She recognises that it is a pivotal aspect of the industry, and would love to give back to the amazing community that helped her.
Facing Challenges To Grow
Although Susan hasn’t faced any major issues in the industry and her journey, she recognises some of the challenges which she has had to learn through. “Every big job has its own challenges” and each piece has taught her how to improve for the next one. In hindsight, she wishes she “implemented Xero (accounting) and CRM (customer relationship management) software sooner, especially as this helps with the challenges of running a business. The biggest challenge she foresees, however, is the challenge of being a parent, but “as always with parenting, it’s a ‘learn as you go’ kind of deal”.
Susan is so thankful, and “considers herself lucky to have been included in a time where women are being given equal opportunities and respect within a historically male industry”. She has had many amazing mentors, both at TAFE, and within the industry. As such, she’s so grateful to the “amazing people, many of who are women, that have trained her and shared their knowledge so graciously.”
A Message to Future Jewellers
Susan was asked a few things about what kinds of advice she has received, and what kinds of advice she could give to other budding young jewellers. Her response was such:
“There’s a lot of great advice I’ve had over the years, but there’s always a few sayings that I’m constantly repeating year after year. One is from a TAFE teacher about how ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’, referring to the fact that every jeweller has a little knack for approaching a job a little differently from another jeweller. This gives me confidence to just get on with it and give it a go, and not to compare too much with other makers’ methods. And the other is from one of my wonderful previous employers Robyn Wernicke, who would always say ‘you win some, you lose some’, which I feel relates to almost every job, one way or the other!”
Susan also said spoke about finding you own style through jewellery.
“I would recommend to other artists starting out or trying to find their own inspirations to really take a deep dive into where your main interests and values lie – not just in jewellery but in art, food, architecture, hobbies, anything! And then to really engage and explore the various manufacturing processes in jewellery making to see which ones light you up the most, then see where your designs flow from there.”
Chathula L. Kiripitige