HART + STONE’s Emily Hartwell Reynolds Wants to Bring Sentimental Joy Through Her Handmade Jewelry
For Salt Spring Island native Emily Hartwell Reynolds, jewelry-making is in the family.
Reynolds' father is a gem carver, immersing her in the world of jewelry and lapidary from a young age, providing fertile stomping grounds for her future creative venture - HART + STONE, a handmade jewelry company.
"I grew up in it, which I think really helped. It came naturally to me - how to use my hands to make and create things."
From Hobbyist to Full-Time Jeweler
HART + STONE was created in October of 2014 after Reynolds took up making jewelry as a hobby in her early twenties. The name was inspired by her middle name Hartwell, which became the 'Hart', and 'Stone' represented the saying 'You've got a heart of stone' which Reynolds was always very fond of, in addition to all the stones she used in her craft. Thus, HART + STONE was born.
However, her first passion was always fashion design. Having attended Blanche Macdonald in Vancouver, she enjoyed the creative aspect of designing clothes but ultimately decided it was not the right time to pursue that specific path. Wanting to stay in the fashion world, Reynolds pivoted to the comfortability of handcrafted jewelry.
Normally, it takes years to perfect the craft of silversmithing or goldsmithing, but already having a penchant for handcrafting jewelry, Reynolds took a speedier route by being a self-taught hobbyist.
"I took a two-day silversmith course on Salt Spring Island, and I just fell in love with making jewelry - soldering, goldsmithing, silversmithing. All of that! So, I said 'You know what? I’ll start with jewelry and that will be my medium for now.'
I started it from there and gave myself little goals along the way. I was working a couple of jobs and decided I could quit if I got three wholesale accounts, and I did! I got my three wholesale accounts, quit my jobs, and said 'Okay, this is what I’m going to do.' And then I basically kept going from there."
It took Reynolds only about a year and a half before she was able to transition into working on HART + STONE full-time, a feat she attributes to successfully being able to sell large amounts of wholesale.
"Selling a lot of wholesale is what started my business. I've worked in retail before so I understood what stores were looking for in a supplier and that helped with how quickly it worked out. I still did markets and lots of social media [and it all] worked in my favor which was really nice."
The Technical Side of Things
While it may appear the world of handcrafted jewelry is bountiful with glitz and glamour - there is a considerable amount of work that goes into arriving at the finished product from ideation, sourcing materials, and the physical labor involved.
This includes goldsmithing, silversmithing, and soldering. What exactly do these terms mean?
Goldsmithing and silversmithing are the use of melting two pieces of metal together with solder, which itself melts at a lower temperature. Solder is a metal compound that holds the metal together. For example, sterling silver will have a silver solder that melts at a lower temperature than the silver that is being soldered together. This allows the silversmith (or goldsmith if the material being used is gold) to melt it together.
Moreover, Reynolds choice of materials are recycled sterling silver and recycled gold, used in the gold-filled pieces, along with other gems.
"The company I source from say they get all their materials from places that practice ethical mining, which is great! I also use a lot of recycled materials. All of the sterling silver I get is recycled and much of the gold in the gold-filled is also like that. They also have a scrap metal program, so you can send all of your scraps to them and they will recycle them by melting them down and reusing them.
That’s one of the nice things about the fine jewelry world - you can melt it down, reuse it, and make something new from it. They’re such a great company to work with. I love getting my stuff from them and I just know that the quality is there as well."
When it comes to Reynolds' designs, her creative process consists of a few things. Sometimes she will start with a quick sketch of the piece she wants to materialize via her mind's eye, and other times she simply embarks on the often messy, but usually fulfilling journey of trial and error.
"I’m very visual and hands-on, I need to create and play with the piece to find my final design. I’ll play around with the metal, beads, or different sizes of stones - so, I take all these little bits I want to make into something and go from there.
A lot of my most favorite pieces have come from just experimenting and being like 'Oh, I wonder if I hammer this down and solder it onto here if that’ll work.' And usually, it does and sometimes it doesn’t."
Many of Reynolds' earlier designs were inspired by crystals and the geometric forms they create such as triangles, hexagons, and squares. The aspect of HART + STONE being based on Salt Spring Island also serves as some casual nature-based inspiration to her pieces.
Overall, when taking a look at the aesthetic of the HART + STONE jewelry, the overarching theme is one of minimalism and simplicity.
"My goal is to create something that people can wear every day, and don’t have to put in and take out constantly. I try to make pieces that you can sleep in. It’s very minimal and timeless, things that you can have for a very long time."
This thoughtfulness and attention to detail are what effortlessly place Reynolds ahead of the curve when it comes to the competitive world of fashion, along with doing her best to ensure all aspects of her business are ethical.
"I think what sets me apart is the fact that [HART + STONE] is truly handmade. A lot of jewelry is mass-produced overseas, and some of it is hand-created which is great. But no matter what when it comes to jewelry, just like clothes, it's important to know who’s making what you’re wearing and if it is made ethically and the workers are getting compensated for what they’re making. I do make all my pieces by hand. I don’t make the chain but I do my best to supply those from good, ethical companies."
In addition to her own handmade pieces, Reynolds also curates jewelry from other makers on her website.
Going hand in hand with the thought placed into the making of the product, the happiness of her customers when purchasing a piece of her jewelry is equally important.
The goal? Quality over quantity that evokes sweet memories. Nostalgia. Happiness.
"I want customers to feel they got something sentimental and meaningful. That’s what draws a lot of people to my pieces and other times they just want [a piece to] look pretty and make them feel good.
I want the jewelry to bring people joy and to create that meaningful piece. Gold-filled and sterling silver - it’ll last a long time, that’s the great thing about it not being plated. If you take care of your jewelry, it’ll last. They're pieces that you can pass down to people."
Fashion Never Sleeps
Aside from the community support, positive feedback, and success of her business within the handcrafted jewelry realm, Reynolds still has dreams of pivoting back into clothing design - and possibly expanding the HART + STONE brand.
"I do always still have a dream of one day getting back into clothing. I’m not in a rush to do it because it does take a lot of work to create clothing, especially when you’re creating it ethically. So, that is a huge goal that I have - branching out into clothing, while still always doing jewelry.
Starting small is key. I'd make just a couple of complementary tops that would go with the jewelry and then see what happens from there."
The biggest piece of advice from Reynolds for businesses just starting? Going slow. She emphasizes how it allows for less overhead and is more cost-effective to learn how to do things on your own first as opposed to hiring out contractors or regular employees. This saves a lot of money which can then be invested into other parts of the business.
"Go slow. There’s something to be said about growing your business slowly. If I had pushed myself too much and got ahead of myself, I noticed that it doesn't quite work out and you have to go back a step.
Understanding business is key to any creative venture and understanding how your time is money, especially those first couple of years, it's 24/7! There’s no time off. If you want to succeed you really have to work your butt off to get going.
So again, going slow is nice. Not investing money in parts of my business that didn’t need to be invested in and enjoying what I have, which is hard sometimes. No matter what in life we’re always looking for that next thing and sometimes it's important to take a step back, look at what you have, and acknowledge things are perfect the way they are - just enjoy it!
After all these years, it's gotten to a place where I'm finally able to really enjoy it."
How Has HART + STONE Buttered Emily's Soul?
Being a mother as well as a full-time business owner, HART + STONE has provided Reynolds the perfect medium to pursue creative entrepreneurship as well as spending time with her son.
"Having my son and my business has been so amazing because I have the opportunity to work from home. I have a studio on my property, but I get to be at home during the day. That just brings me so much happiness that I’m able to see him and work, I can do both. This business has been able to support me and my family in that. That butters my soul."
You can purchase HART + STONE jewelry online and at various boutiques and shops in Canada and internationally. To view a full list of stockists click here.