5 Reasons to Buy Handmade
Why buying handmade is best:
- keeping traditional skills alive
- supporting a maker
- originality of product
- superior quality
- handmade means love
This is a topic, being a maker and jeweller myself, which is very close to my heart.
1. Keeping traditional skills alive:
Traditional skills, such are silver smithing, go way back in time, to a time in history when craftsmanship was important and highly valued. The manufacturer of vessels and other ceremonial artefacts in precious metals can actually be traced way back to the Bronze Age in the UK. During the 1800s, the majority of raw silver was used in the making of tableware. As Britain moved into the early Victorian era, fine silver jewellery became more popular, and most jewellery pieces were made by hand. However, this was not to last, by the mid Victorian period, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and through time silver jewellery went from being hand crafted to manufactured. This allowed silver jewellery to become more affordable, but sadly it went hand in hand with the loss of these precious skills. The British Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century fought back against this industrial style of making, favouring a more hand crafted style using traditional tools. This can be seen in Celtic designs from the period and Glasgow born Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspired pieces. Though the ages silver jewellery has gone in and out of ‘fashion’ and with it the loss and popularity of a handcrafted work. But I do believe the tide is turning again and people are beginning to appreciate hand manufacturing over matching manufacturing. This may have been helped by a forced slower pace of life due to the recent pandemic or the growing popularity of handmade shows on tv, either way, it’s a trend I’m definitely embracing and hope to see continue. Wouldn’t it be sad to see these age old techniques disappear.
2. Supporting a maker:
Number one reason to buy handmade naturally leads into the second reason. You are supporting a maker and therefore you are also supporting the skill they practice. It also of course means that you are connecting with a real person who you are likely able to talk to and build a relationship with. Personally I have many regular customers who buy from me and have supported me and followed my journey. This means so much, and makes what I do feel all that more worthwhile and appreciated.
Many jewellers and craftspeople, myself included, work from home; either in a room (or even a kitchen table) set aside in their home, or if they are lucky (as I am), a small garden studio. Most of us do what we do because it’s a passion, and yes, sometimes it’s a labour of love! Usually a great deal of thought and time has been invested into each piece of jewellery, something that can’t always be shown. Often you will hear a maker joke that they do a ‘happy dance’ when a sale comes through, and is because every sale really does make a difference, personally as well as financially. And talking of ‘financially’, for many of us, this is our livelihood, not a hobby to get pocket money from.
With buying direct from a maker or small business you get to know the story behind a piece. This is especially important with my jewellery where each piece of sea glass has a story to tell, and I’m able to talk about how an individual jewellery piece is created. Over all, buying handmade is without a doubt a far more personal experience than buying something that has been mass produced. And of course, you are supporting a maker!
3. Originality of product:
Due to the nature of a handmade item, each piece is truly original. Even in similar pieces there will be variations, from the shaping of a piece, to the tool markings and texture, and also the colour. The fact that any similar pieces can’t be easily replicated is what makes a handcrafted item of jewellery so beautifully special. This is especially true when talking about sea glass jewellery. No two pieces of sea glass are ever the same. Each comes with its own unique colour and shape; having been worn, tumbled and smoothed by the sea over many decades.
One of the most lovely things about buying handmade is that it allows for customisation; whether that is in the design itself, the colour, or the addition of something personal to the customer such as a stamped initial or birth stone. Making the piece truly ‘yours’. I am finding I am getting asked more and more for specialised pieces, most often to make a piece of jewellery using the customers own found piece of sea glass - this can be a piece of glass that their child has found, or a piece picked up from a beach on holiday and they want to be reminded of these happy memories. For a maker there’s nothing quite like getting a delighted message back from your customer saying how pleased they are with what you’ve made.
4. Superior quality:
Mass manufactured jewellery pieces tend to be made as cheaply as possible, often not in this country, using cheap labour. Mostly they are intended as fashion throw away jewellery. You sort of get what you pay for. And that I guess is fine if that’s all you’re looking for. But how nice is it instead invest in a piece, and buy something from a local artisan. It doesn’t even have to be all that expensive. Most makers will use the best quality materials they can afford, often hand picking them; in my case with my sea glass, it’s locally sourced. Many jewellers are environmentally conscious and chose materials that are eco-friendly. The silver I use in my bezel pendants is 100% recycled, and of course the sea glass I find and use in my jewellery is in a way recycled too.
A jeweller handcrafting an item will spend many hours perfecting it; making sure each soldered join is secure, all markings that shouldn’t be there are filed and sanded smooth, and that’s it’s polished to a high shine. Each piece is given that same attention to detail. This can be in no way compared to something that has just rolled off the conveyer belt. So, if it’s quality you are looking for, look no further than handmade.
5. Handmade means love:
Often you will see a handmade item being described as ‘handmade with love’. This isn’t just some whimsy thing the maker has said just because they think it sounds good, most handmade items really are made with ‘love’; and sometimes ‘blood, sweat and tears’ too!! As I mentioned previously, a great deal of thought and time has gone into each piece made. The love and individual attention given to each piece during the making is what makes it so wonderfully special.
Just as buying handmade means ‘love’, so is giving. It shows you have put thought, time and love into choosing a gift for your family or friends. They will appreciate the value far more being given an authentic handmade item as apposed to a factory made one. Nothing quite beats opening up a gift that you know so much love has been poured into.