August 09 2011
Jewellery designer Emma Farquharson has created handmade pieces since the late 1980s, selling them in such places as Liberty in London and New York’s Guggenheim Museum. In 2009, she and her sister Kate Crane co-founded the e-commerce site E&K Charms. This touts personalised oval-shaped, bone-china pendants (resembling cameos) framed in silver as well as cuff links, both bearing photographs of loved ones or cherished children’s drawings. Photographic transfers of these images are bonded onto the bone china, then fired.
Clients can also buy pendants made of natural objects – leaves, starfish, shells – encased in silver (via a process called electroforming), which can also be plated in 22ct gold.
Customers can provide their own objects – some post over fossils, leaves or seedpods, while others e-mail images. These are transformed into jewellery in four to six weeks (portraits take six to eight weeks).
The pieces cost from £130 to £425. But there’s an open-ended, mix ’n’ match aspect to the enterprise, too: clients can ask for more pendants and objects to be added to the same piece (which will cost more). Inevitably, this creates a slightly more baroque – and individual – look.
Memories of an exotic, romantic childhood also inspired the venture. “Emma and I grew up in the Bahamas and spent happy childhood hours beachcombing, collecting shells and curios,” recalls Crane, a former TV producer who does the company’s marketing. “As an adult, I’d long yearned to immortalise fragile mementos that meant a lot to me – shells from my favourite beach, an acorn my four-year-old son gave me – into pendants. So one day I asked Emma to experiment in encasing the leaf from my bridal bouquet. The result is a beautiful silver piece I wear every day.”
Ultimately, E&K Charms’ appeal is that you can wear all your favourite keepsakes in capsule form. And as they weigh so little, you’ll never feel encumbered by these mini-treasure troves.