Jennifer Dawes of Dawes Design has made sustainable, responsible jewelry since launching her first collection in 2000. Each piece of jewelry, celebrating natural materials and a pure, essential aesthetic, is handmade on site in her rural Sonoma County studio.
For Jennifer, it is all about the metal: manipulating and fabricating is vital to her work. First introduced to jewelry making in a Fine Arts program, it was “all over” after that initiation to metal. Luckily for us, she has been able to make it her career.
Jennifer’s jewelry is an interesting mix of design aesthetic, combining classic symmetry with a feminine, organic form. The gemstones she uses have warmth and personality. All jewelry is made of responsibly mined gemstones and recycled metals whenever possible. The result is handmade jewelry where the elemental beauty really shines through.
Jennifer Dawes Interview
idazzle.com: How do you want people to wear and think about your jewelry designs?
Jennifer Dawes of Dawes Design: People are emotionally attached to their jewelry with good reason. I have built a consumer base that resonates with the beauty and simplicity of my work. They are able to combine and collect styles from my different collections to customize their own individual tastes, desires and lifestyle. My work can be minimalist, eccentric to classic all the while feeling timeless.
What is your favorite new work or collection you have been working on?
I’m working on a collection right now called mineral. It’s a one of a kind line that will have half the natural mineral of the stone and half faceted. I wanted to design a line that is totally transparent and ethical. So I am working with the Green Gem Foundation to source the stones and a local cutter who is open to experimental ideas. Exploring new ideas and pushing boundaries is what I get excited about!
You made a commitment early on in your career to use responsibly sourced materials. How else do you go green in your business or personal life?
Just about every aspect of my life is conscientious in terms of the impact of how I live and how it effects the world around me. To start out, my husband and I bought a 1906 farm house that we restored, then added too. I designed it, my husband built it. We used 90% recycled, reclaimed, and scavenged materials to build our dream home. Not only was this incredibly creative and fulfilling aesthetically, it felt emotionally and ethically clean and creative as well. My husband has installed solar water heaters, our heat and air conditioning is geo thermal and we drive bio diesel cars and have for the last 10 years. Our property is a long narrow acre in which we built the studios, offices and show room for Dawes Design. This has been a dream for us as far as our lifestyle. We are able to raise our family, grow food, and run two businesses all in one place. Right now we have 150 feet of heirloom tomatoes growing in the garden, so our “free” time is spent slow roasting tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs to make sauce for canning.
As far as Dawes Design we try to make every aspect of the business fit our philosophy. My company prides itself on making everything locally and sourcing using businesses that have similar ethics.
Lately, I have been struggling with the concept of packaging. I started working with a packaging company doing recycled paper and such, but then I found out they were being made in China. It didn’t feel right, so I started thinking and reading about traditional Japanese packaging and pow! I made the connection between my friend growing timber bamboo locally and decided to start making simple elegant bamboo boxes to package my jewels. A totally sustainable solution!
This is an excerpt from the full interview that I did for the Contemporary Jewelry Design Group, an organization of independent jewelry designers. To see the full interview, head over to CJDG’s site here. There’s more on Jennifer’s design philosophy, exciting new projects, and what’s next for Dawes Design.