I first came across Kate’s work on Instagram.  It immediately appealed to me because of its geometric influences, and I wasn’t at all surprised to later find out that Kate originally trained as an architect. 

This just demonstrates the power of social media to bring people together. After all, with Kate living in Scotland and me being near Birmingham, I probably would never have discovered her or her amazing work without the power of technology!

How would you describe your jewellery?

Minimal statement pieces. 

My designs always feature clean, straight edges. I love to be able to incorporate them in unexpected ways, especially in pieces that are traditionally rounded, like rings and bangles. There’s a strict geometric feel in all of my designs, which I think comes from my architectural background.  I like to keep things as simple as possible, so while I do love the occasional bit of drama in my jewellery, I try to create it without getting fussy or too complex.

C01 necklaces by ALIGN

What materials do you use?

Sterling silver is my default choice, although I’m always open to new materials.

Where do you create your jewellery?

I have a studio at home in Perth, Scotland. Recently I spent some time giving it a bit of a face lift and updating my work bench. I find having a working environment you really want to spend time in makes a huge difference to my motivation and how productive I can be.

Kate’s workbench

What’s the favourite piece in your jewellery collection? 

For sentimental reasons I’m going to pick my engagement ring (which was originally my mother-in-laws) and my wedding band, which my husband made himself!

And for sheer over the top ridiculous-ness I’m going to say the first piece of jewellery I ever made. It’s a huge ring that goes the full length of your finger, with a hinge at the knuckle. It’s bonkers, and I never wear it. But it’s my first, and it’s got moving parts!

What’s the piece you’re most proud of creating?

The over the knuckle ring in my latest C01 collection. I think it strikes a balance between the dramatic and paired back simplicity really well. There are some subtle details in there that I’m really proud of and the overall effect is clean and no-nonsense!

C01 ring by ALIGN

What’s your design process?

My background is in architecture and years of architecture school essentially taught me how to design. It might be in a really particular way, but it’s all I know. The lessons I learnt there are completely ingrained in how I work, there’s no escaping it! 

Usually I start with sketches, and probably with some non-jewellery references for inspiration. Often I design a shape or 3D form without thinking about how it becomes a wearable bit of jewellery, that comes later. I also like to make some super rough test pieces or 3D experiments, sometimes in metal, but sometimes in card or whatever feels like it suits the form. These are never beautiful things, but I can always learn something about the design by making them.

How important is jewellery design to you?

Very! Maybe too important?! I feel like to put yourself out there as a designer maker and show your designs to the world(which are your blood, sweat and tears and feel like very personal creations); and essentially ask for feedback and approval and for people to invest in your vision is a daunting thing to do. I think you would only put yourself through that if it was really important to you.

What do you love about jewellery?

It’s a form of self expression – both for me as a designer, but also to everyone who wears jewellery. It’s part of your personal style. I don’t think your age, or size, or gender, or anything other than your own taste influences your choice in jewellery.  It’s just like other types of fashion or style choices, and gives you a chance to express yourself.

How did you start creating jewellery?

I started at summer school at Leith School of Art. At the time I had a job that wasn’t in the slightest bit creative; and I felt the need to exercise that part of my brain. I could have chosen anything that summer, but I’m so glad it was jewellery!

Why did you fall in love with jewellery design?

I think I first fell in love with it before I started designing myself. I fell in love as a customer and wearer. Jewellery was, and is, a way to incorporate something really special into my wardrobe and style, and not just for special occasions. A huge gobstopper cocktail ring or a mega pair of earrings don’t slow you down the same as a pair of high heels, they’re not impractical like a tiny handbag or a dress that only lets you breath in! But these pieces of jewellery can still make a style impact on how you look and how you feel.

What are your aspirations for your business?

Wow, well I’d love to design more collections – designing is one of the most important things for me. I’d like to expand my materials and maybe experiment with gold. And also to have an experiment with some non-precious materials. I’d love to collaborate with designers from other disciplines, and I’d love to have the opportunity to make something that’s not jewellery. I’d like it to keep evolving, I don’t want to stay in the same place.

That sounds like a lot – to be honest this week I’d settle for completing my new website!

Kate’s workspace.

Where do you feel most inspired?

Anywhere – inspiration can hit you in the most unexpected times and places.

Who else inspires you?

Anyone who stays true to their vision. It’s hard to hold on to your core values – there’s always a push or a pull or a doubt from somewhere; anyone who can tune that out and stick to their guns is my hero!

What inspires you?

Architecture, built forms and construction techniques. People who have an effortless sense of style. Industrial materials, cubist art and the community of designers and makers that I’m proud to be a part of.

Kate takes inspiration from modern architecture

How do you juggle all the different aspects of the job?

Mmm, I’m not sure that I do the juggling very well. Just now I’m trying to stick to different types of tasks on different days of the week – otherwise I would make all day everyday, but no one would know about it! I think the juggle is a constant work in progress.

What advice would you give to people looking to buy jewellery from independent makers, but who don’t know where to look or how to go about it?

I’d say get curious and explore, Instagram is my favourite place to discover someone new, and keep your eyes peeled for local events and exhibitions. I think it snowballs, once you’ve found your first couple – more and more will keep appearing for you. I’d also say reach out to the people whose work you admire. One of the benefits of buying from independent designer/makers (rather than a big company) is you get to speak to the actual person who makes the jewellery.  So if you’ve got a question about how you wear it or how it’s made, or you want something a little different – just ask; I promise they’ll be happy to help, and you’ll get to know your jewellery in a completely unique way.

You recently changed your business name to ALIGN.  Why did you pick that name?

I started out using my own name and felt like it was time to move on. My designs and business had grown beyond me making the pieces that I wanted to wear, and I felt like it was time to let the business stand on its own two feet. My aim for ALIGN is to bring together the architectural and jewellery aspects of my own career, to bring each of these separate threads closer and see if I can ALIGN them in to one creative practice.

If you’d like to see more of Kate’s work you can find the website for ALIGN here.