Artisan Spotlight: Polly Wales And Her Unconventional Jewelry

by - Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Polly Wales Artisan Jewelry Sundance Catalog

Who is Polly Wales?

Polly Wales Sundance CatalogBritish-born jewelry artist, Polly Wales, wanted her pieces to tell a story about real life – with all its truths and imperfections – that would serve to enhance a person’s beauty. She worked for nearly 13 years to develop her unique “Cast-Not-Set” technique. The result is a colorful and delightfully fun take on precious gems and metals.

Polly’s innovative technique casts gemstones directly into molten gold before the gold has formed, a process that is the reverse of conventional jewelry making. Typically, fine jewelry is made in gold and, as a final step, the gemstones are put into their setting. The Cast-Not-Set process helps to bring out the organic shapes, slight variations and the essential character of each piece. Like people and snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.

“I have always been drawn to the idea of ‘imperfect beauty’,” explains Polly, “and am intrigued by the ways 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.”

Polly Wales Artisan Jewelry Sundance CatalogHoliday Collection 2019

Here she describes a few pieces from her latest Sundance collection:

One classic style is the Sapphire Swallow's Wing Necklace. It clearly showcases the Cast-Not-Set technique with its gemstones embedded in gold. Polly says, “I love the elegance of the slender silhouette and the way the stones look unearthed.”

With her Soiree Earrings, Polly wanted to make a funky version of the iconic safety pin. “I love these earrings because you can live in them. You can wear them every day and never worry about needing to change them out.”

The bejeweled surface of the Pont Des Artes Necklace is a reimagining of a classic, romantic form of jewelry. Polly explains, “Padlock jewelry has featured prominently throughout history, so it was really exciting to put our own spin on that. What I love about our collection is that the lock mechanism is functional and serves as the catch for the other end of the chain.”

Polly created the Dawnris Diamond Ring to wear as a crown on an existing stack of rings. “Building a ring stack over time is a really beautiful way to tell a visual story about your life and your style. I love the frosty white diamonds and the way they shimmer in the rich 18k yellow gold.”

Her Aphrodite Sapphire Ring was inspired in part by archer’s rings from 17th century India. These rings were used to protect an archer’s thumb from the bowstring. Notes Polly, “Our neilda shield has a beautiful gemmy pallet of peach and mauve that triggers images of crushed berries, lush velvet, and glowing autumnal light.”

Be sure to check out our entire collection of Polly Wales’s artisan jewelry here.

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