Our jewellery has the power to make an outfit – but how is it made? Read on for our step-by-step process, from the first flutter of inspiration to the careful hand assembly of our eye-catching earrings.
By the time you receive your Toolally treasure, a talented line-up of makers and creators has designed, cut, polished and assembled it to perfection. No matter how small the piece, a sizeable effort has gone into making sure you love it.
It’s essential that the people who make our jewellery are fairly-paid and enjoy what they do, so we’ve employed dedicated local craftspeople to carry out the task. From our statement chandelier earrings to dainty daisy pendant necklaces, each design is constructed with meticulous care. The magic happens in our Yorkshire studio, and from here the designs are packaged up in premium boxes and dispatched to you all over the world.
But let’s slow things down and hit rewind – what happens before they reach the assembly stage?
Perfecting the designs
Mags has no rules when it comes to design inspiration. From past-era trends to contemporary fashion currents, eye-catching architecture to zeitgeisty TV shows, no source is off-limits. She says, “When I get asked to define the one thing that prompted a certain design or colourway, it’s a challenge because every piece of Toolally jewellery comes from a different place.”
But an undeniably consistent thread throughout each collection is the homage to vintage style and designers. Just look at our Clarice Cliff-inspired Art Deco Crocuses, or the 70s-infused Blossom Hoops – these ones are full-on flower power. If the catwalks have taught us anything, it’s that fashion repeats itself. Even the world’s most creative and inventive ateliers look to the past for guidance, giving previously popular trends a new lease of life.
Mags takes the flicker of an idea and starts by jotting down rough shapes and lines in her notebook. Often, it’s a process of trial and error; tweaking and reworking initial sketches until a design comes together. “Nothing makes me happier than when I realise I have got a colour combination right,” she says, “Or a shape sits well with another and it really works.”
Creating the shapes
Why do we use acrylic to create our signature designs? Not only is it easy to achieve the punchy colour combinations that are core to our brand, but we find the finished products are lightweight and comfortable to wear all day long.
Mags’ designs are deconstructed into individual shapes, which are then digitally rendered using special software. Once this step is complete, the shapes are extracted from acrylic with a state-of-the-art laser cutter – don’t try this part at home! Each piece is checked and polished to make sure it’s up to standard, and rougher parts are filed by hand until they’re smooth. We always aim to keep our waste to a minimum, so anything definitively unusable by us is grouped by colour and recycled.
There’s a very different process for creating our collection of fine jewellery. We work with a talented team of artisans in the Birmingham jewellery quarter, who cast our designs from precious metals and polish each with their skilled hands. We only use recycled 925 sterling silver and 9ct gold as well as gold vermeil. Our gold vermeil is recycled 925 silver plated in 2 micron of 18ct gold for earrings and 3 micron of 18ct gold for rings ensuring a quality finish and a long life. This gives our offering a true luxury feel and ensures your Toolally treasure lasts longer. Together with Mags, our makers test shapes, proportions, weights and movement to produce the perfect piece.
Assembling the jewellery
The market town of Barnoldswick is home to Toolally’s small but perfectly formed studio, where our close-knit team of makers hand-assemble our acrylic jewellery. This small Yorkshire town has a manufacturing tradition threaded through its history, which we feel is important to uphold. That’s why we employ all local people and train them up where necessary – before long, the precision and attention to detail required in creating our pieces is second nature.
Our craftspeople pick up their trusty pair of jewellery pliers and, following the ‘recipe book’ provided, attach the acrylic shapes together with small jump rings. Our bespoke metal tops, plated in a variety of metal finishes with a sterling silver post soldered for strength, are individually fitted by hand. For embellished styles, the makers attach crystals onto etched acrylic with glue that has been mixed by hand to avoid waste.
Around this time, the functionality of the piece is tested to make sure it moves and hangs as Mags envisioned. Minor adjustments are sometimes made to maximise the practicality and comfort of the design, and then a final quality check is done before the pieces are packaged up to await your orders.
Keen to see the finished products? Explore our latest collections of distinctive acrylic statement earrings and contemporary fine jewellery.