Hannah Upritchard has been making Hannah Rings jewellery in London for almost 10 years now. Each Hannah Rings jewellery piece is made with unique character, including the process of using fairtrade and recycled materials, and the full story behind each piece that speaks its own language and grows on the person who wears it.
We chat with Hannah about her brand values, her dedication to the environment and what inspired the exclusive Hannah Rings earring collection she has created for CONTENT.
What inspires the brand values that drive Hannah Rings jewellery?
Something that I love about jewellery is its significance. For most of us, the jewellery that we wear everyday isn’t about fashion – we don’t care if it matches our outfit or if it’s trendy… That’s just not the way we think. It’s a personal message that commemorates a moment, a person, a relationship or a resolution in a form that we can carry about with us everyday.
I am an intensely sentimental person and the significance of jewellery – this personalisation – really intrigues and motivates me. I love that jewellery becomes talismans that carries significant people, days and memories with us everywhere we go. Sometimes the message is culturally clear, like a wedding band or a locket, but sometimes it’s more hidden, something inherited or gifted – and I find both equally special.
This is what inspires me. I search for that language that connects people to themselves or others, that speaks of values and commitments and that somehow, in its own quiet way, communicates this to the world.
Hannah Rings jewellery started out because I wanted to make jewellery that had real significance that was both a friend and talisman for the wearer. I want to make jewellery that speaks about who we are or who we were or who we want to be. I want my jewellery to become like an old friend who knows you really well, who by always seeing the best in you, reminds you of how great you can be.
How do you source and use the materials used to produce Hannah Rings jewellery and accessories?
Much of the work that I make is bespoke. When I am making commissions I’m often reworking an existing piece of jewellery or reusing inherited metals, stones, pearls or even hair. I love this because it adds significance and also neatly sidesteps the impact that so much jewellery has on the environment.
I like to bring as much of this permanence and character to my collections as I can. No two pieces of Hannah Rings jewellery are the same; I do all of the finishing myself so every piece has passed through my hands. Wherever possible I try to find, collect and assemble the pieces myself.
I scour beaches, charity shops and second hand stores for reusable items, and often use recycled metals and vintage stones to create new work. This is great for ensuring that my work is unique and speaks a language all of its own, and simultaneously has a positive effect on my environmental impact as a maker. I take great pride in this.
How does the environment influence your business?
I make my jewellery with the expectation that it will be worn forever. By working on each piece individually, the preciousness of my work is in the care with which it is made instead of in the scarcity of its components. Anything that has a beautiful or interesting shape or that speaks to a significant moment or person can be a treasure, so with a bit of imagination it’s easy to avoid using environmentally unsound resources.
By making the work myself I can ensure that I have a personal relationship with the people who cast the metal, who source the stones and who do any of the setting or welding on my behalf. In doing small runs at a fair price I ensure that all my work is done respectfully with consideration for our planet and everyone who lives on it. My stone wholesaler is committed to fair trade and guarantees their stones are fairly sourced with as little impact on the environment as possible. My casters always recycle in-house where they can and provide a recycled metal option.
I always package my jewellery in recycled materials. It think this is really important and I hope that my customers agree. To me it seems absolutely tragic that rings are being shipped in boxes that have been created for this one voyage and will be immediately thrown away when they reach their destination. For presentation I rework the materials by hand and very much hope that my care, not only for the jewellery but also for the entire planet, is felt by my recipient.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I’m from a large and very creative family. Growing up I never had a television and so if I wasn’t outside playing on the river or jumping on the trampoline I would be inside with my brothers and sisters carving, sculpting, drawing or sewing new and crazy creations. It was at the kitchen table that I first learned that creativity is a group effort and that being around other creative people is the most inspiring thing you can do. Living in London I am surrounded by astonishing museums, libraries and art galleries and also by a myriad of other amazing and inspiring creatives. I consider myself very lucky to be there surrounded by such a rich and inspiring environment.
Having grown up in New Zealand I love being outdoors. I spend a lot of my time walking in mountains, along river beds and over beaches. This is not only were I find a lot of the resources that I use to create my work, like my Thames mudlarked garnet rings and my Atlas Mountain lapis, but also where I find a lot of my inspiration.
My work always has an organic, archeological vibe that is informed by my environment both out in nature and in the city.
Can you tell us more about the exclusive CONTENT earring collection?
For CONTENT I really wanted to make something that was both raw and elegant. I wanted it to be made with recycled or vintage elements and to speak of independence and strength.
It was important to me that we could ensure the collection was completely individual so I decided to create a limited edition of earrings. I embarked on this collection with two quite simple elements in mind. I wanted the work to be unabashedly physical – to be of the body – but also to be a little bit ferocious and irreverent. To communicate this I decided I wanted to use indentations from my own body and then elements from outside that would bring a bit of anarchy to the work.
I created indentations with my teeth by biting into wax and then cutting out each individual tooth mark. Every single one is unique. With a little nod Cockney Rhyming Slang, I used pearls to strengthen the reference to teeth. These two elements make up “Chomp!”. The other half of the work is the anarchy. I’ve called it “Smash!” and I have used recycled glass to communicate it. I love the deep rich colours and the organic shard like edges of the recycled glass when it’s sitting beside the cosy and welcoming pearls and enigmatic tooth indentations.