Today our spotlight is shining on Jen Cunningham and her bespoke, landscape inspired jewellery.
Jen is a Scottish jeweller, creating one-off pieces and partnership rings inspired by her clients’ favourite mountain ranges, landscapes and cities. Using ethically sourced precious metals, she can encapsulate your favourite place in beautiful detail.
If you’re not feeling blown away by off-the-shelf wedding rings, then why not design your own, inspired by somewhere you love? After all, this meaningful part of your day will be with you for the rest of your life.
Read on to find out more about how Jen works and be inspired…
Tell us more about you. How did you get into creating jewellery?
I studied jewellery and metalwork design at university after having a love of jewellery instilled in me by a very inspiring art teacher at school. It was at uni that I realised my passion for Scottish landscapes could be translated into wearable jewellery. I graduated in 2007 and immediately had orders for wedding rings as they were so unusual from the high street offering.
Rather than having a selection of rings you can buy from, I make my rings to order. I can use your favourite mountain range, landscape or city and turn that into your wedding or partnership rings. With over 15 years of previous commissions to help you draw inspiration from, you can visualise how your ring might look. I also have a selection of samples so you can see the quality of my work if you’ve not seen my work in person before.
In 2017 I went to a symposium about ethical making, that gave me the push I needed to change my working practices to be more ethical. I now provide recycled metals as standard in all my jewellery, and can also offer Single Mine Origin and Fairtrade source precious metals too. I source Canada mark diamonds as well as gemstones from suppliers who work directly with the mines they get their stones from. I know choosing rings can be a totally new experience for people, so I’m always happy to chat about what all these different terms mean.
What do you love most about your work?
I love working with my clients – they’re always the loveliest people and I hear the best stories from them. I love learning the reasons why particular places are very important to people, stories of holidays and proposals up mountains (or be a small part in them happening). I get to hear the nicknames they want secretly engraved inside rings.
I don’t know if it’s something about the mutual connection we have; a love of landscapes, but every person I’ve worked with I’ve gotten on well with. I think that’s really important for clients when choosing who to work with; you’ve got to like and trust the person that you’ll be asking to make some very special rings for you.
Who, or what, inspires you?
It’s fairly obvious that Scottish landscapes and mountains inspire my work, I love being able to create accurate representations of those mountains or cities for my clients. I grew up opposite the Isle of Arran on the south-west coast of Scotland and that provided the initial inspiration for me when I was at uni. You’ll still see Arran and Goatfell pieces in my collections even now.
I’m definitely inspired by my clients’ stories. I think once I know more about why a place is so special to them, something happens as I’m making it, it becomes infused with that joy and meaning.
I love being amongst the mountains of Scotland, I’m a fair weather hiker I’d say; I’ve only done a few munros but for me, there’s a freedom that comes from just being *in* the Scottish landscapes. There’s an indescribable feeling I get from being closer to nature while also feeling insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It’s moving and powerful being in the mountains, if you’ve read Nan Shephard’s The Living Mountain, the feeling I got when reading that book is what I’m trying to create when people wear my rings.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Oh, this is a great question!
In five years time, I’ll have a separate (from my home) studio set up, with space for clients to come in and see where I make their wedding rings. I’d also love to host make-your-own partnership ring classes for clients too.
I’d love to be using more Fairtrade and Single Mine Origin precious metals in my wedding rings, as well as giving more back to the communities where mining takes place. Often gold mining is artisanal, or small scale, not the huge open pits you see online. So when I buy gold from suppliers like that, who can trace all the way back to the mine, my clients know they’re helping miners and their families who might all work in the industry and they can invest that back into restoring the landscape once the mining is finished.
I’d also like to increase my donations to help with path erosion and rewilding projects within the UK, to ensure these beautiful places are around for years to come. I currently plant a tree for every person in a relationship when someone buys a ring for a celebration from me, even if they’re only buying one.
Tell us a secret…
I’ve got a great poker face when it comes to secrets. I’ve had to keep so many secrets for my clients about proposals and surprise gifts.
On a day off, where will we find you?
You’ll probably find me at the beach walking my dog, Alder. I grew up in a coastal village in south west Scotland so any time I can I go to the beach, any beach, as it really refreshes me.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I don’t add zeros to my prices if you mention the word “wedding” or “civil partnership”. Often people seem scared to mention the word, and I understand why. Don’t worry, I price everything the same for any occasion and use the latest gold price to work out my quotes.
What Jen’s couples say:
“Jen made our wedding rings, including a landscape that has huge significance to us. Her work is absolutely incredible, and she met the brief flawlessly. She is so talented and unbelievably friendly and accommodating. She’s also so knowledgeable, provided us with so many options, and kept us updated every step of the way. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone, and will be using her again for further pieces.”
“Jen designed mine and my husband’s wedding rings. They are incredibly beautiful and exactly what we wanted. They are unique to us and we are so happy with what Jen created for us. I cannot recommend her highly enough; she is so friendly and knowledgeable. We could not be happier with the whole process.”
“Our experience with Jen was second to none. We ordered two bespoke wedding rings, plus a bracelet and pendant. They are all beautiful and we are thrilled. Having personalised jewellery for such a special occasion is wonderful. Jen is so skilled, helpful and patient throughout the commissioning process.”
In love with Jen’s landscape inspired jewellery? We are too! To see more of the magical delights she creates head on over to Jen’s website.