There’s something deeply personal about wearing handmade jewellery. Its distinctiveness and imperfect beauty leaves the owner with an almost smug satisfaction, like it was made with them in mind. It’s a feeling that the designer behind the eponymous Elizabeth Wiltshire Jewellery aims to capture.
Wiltshire’s journey began as a personal passion while she worked in wine sales, but quickly turned into a full-time obsession. "I never intended to sell them,” she says. “But when I started posting pieces I had made on my Instagram, people started to message me asking how much my pieces were, I thought, ‘Why not?’” Soon, Wiltshire’s side hustle became her main hustle.
Now, the designer spends her days in her home studio, an unassuming surf shack on the New South Wales Coal Coast, south of Sydney. Hunched over her workbench, which was built by her father from recycled timber, she creates earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets for women – and rings for men – using vintage silversmithing tools handed down to her by her mother.
“They're from the 1970s,” Wiltshire says. “I've had to soak most of them in vinegar and bicarb to remove rust, it’s a constant battle.”
Her work is guided by a simple ethos, also provided by her mother: "Machines are great, but hands are better.” It’s this ideology that gives her pieces an organic, vital, but restrained feel.
"I have a real design dichotomy,” Wiltshire says. “Part of me loves bold, minimal, architectural pieces that are almost brutalist, but I also find myself incredibly drawn to making warped, wonky, completely imperfect pieces too.”
These sensibilities are easy to see in her collection, from the unique and gloriously misshapen Granule rings, to the strikingly sharp angles of the Stickie earring. Wiltshire uses mostly recycled sterling silver, solid gold and 24-carat gold-plated sterling silver. Anything that is cast from a mould is made using scrap, and from time to time she’ll create bigger, brasher pieces with a gold-plated brass base to keep the price down. “I try very hard to keep my prices as low as possible,” Wiltshire says. “I want good, ethical choices and quality to be available to everyone.”
“Making pieces myself means that if someone wants a small tweak to a design to suit them, I can do that,” Wiltshire says. Her decision to handcraft items, while slower, allows her to take on more interesting projects. “I really love to make totally bespoke pieces ... I couldn't offer that service if I only used factories.”
Rather than follow trends, Wiltshire’s goal is to create jewellery with an enduring quality that delivers on style more than fashion. “I want to help people find the pieces they'll wear forever.”