Perfect Imperfections With Polly Wales.
For British jewelry designer Polly Wales, creating her work has always been about embracing the beauty of imperfection. “When I was growing up and when I was studying jewelry, I would try on these pieces of immaculate jewelry and they never seemed to reflect anything about who I was,” she says. “They never seemed to look right. I set out to make jewelry that would look just as beautiful on a gardener’s hands as they would on beautifully manicured and well-kept fingers. I wanted the jewelry to tell a story about real life in the same way that our skin tells the story about our real lives … for the jewelry to be able to enhance peoples’ beauty, as true and imperfect as it may be.”Shop Polly's Collection
A UNIQUE SETTING
It was her fascination with the art of imperfection that leads to one of her most distinctive design concepts, Cast-Not-Set jewelry, which came out of research she did during her master’s studies at The Royal College of Art in London. “I was captivated by the idea of ‘imperfect beauty,’ the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi. Pieces that didn’t have a perfect moment of beauty,” Wales relates. “I began exploring how we develop relationships with the objects we treasure – how the marks of wear and tear make pieces more precious to us as we journey through life with them. I started experimenting with casting stones directly into molten gold and liked that as you wore the pieces over time stones would slowly be revealed as the gold wears away. I’ve been working on evolving the process of Cast-Not-Set ever since that moment.”
“I set out to make jewelry that would look just as beautiful on a gardener’s hands as they would on beautifully manicured and well-kept fingers. I wanted the jewelry to tell a story about real life.”
ON WEDDING JEWELRY
The designs continue to evolve once they meet their wearer, taking on small marks that reflect the particular habits of each individual. Perhaps this is why they’ve found such popularity as wedding bands, reflecting the beautiful individuality of the wearer’s romantic relationship. “I found that a lot of people were buying Confetti rings to wear as wedding bands. The imperfections and erosions in the bands reflected their understanding of love in a more honest way than the polished perfection of traditional bands. There’s an intrigue there that makes the process and the pieces exciting”
Working hand in hand with her partner James, Wales has since intentionally expanded her line to include a series of one of a kind bridal jewelry. “My foray into bridal design started when I fell in love with non-traditional diamonds,” Wales says. “I discovered uncut diamonds and grey and salt and pepper diamonds, as well as antique Old Miner’s Cuts. I started making a lot of pieces using those set inversely, which highlights their beautiful faceting and captivating imperfections.”
As Polly’s company has grown, the bridal story has expanded too. “It’s really exciting that people are willing to go to these non-traditional places!” Wales exclaims.
ON WORKING WITH A LOVED ONE
Wale’s collection of commitment rings and alternative bridal pieces is a beautiful reflection of her working relationship with her partner James, who she describes as her biggest champion. “James has taught himself the skills that we’ve needed to fill the gap,” shares Wales. “He taught himself to do casting, photography, and editing.”
Together, they have also worked collaboratively on the development of Padlock Necklaces and the Jade Pagoda Earrings. A balanced working relationship as creative and thrilling as the beautiful pieces this pair creates.