November 2017

Stone Free

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What is it about crystals that mystifies us time after time? I remember when I was little, my sister gave me a clear quartz pendant for my birthday and I thought I was invincible. I would keep it under my uniform like a hidden gem. When people would ask to look at it, I would say, ‘Don’t touch it!’ sternly, knowing I would have to clean the energy off in salt water if they did. Renee Warne reignites this affinity for crystals with her Billy Bride Jewellery line, featuring incredible raw stones cast in minimal amounts of metal to showcase their natural beauty. You may know the name Billy Bride from these very pages, as her weekly fashion updates graced our blog. She now finds herself quite a busy bee, recently being appointed Beauty Editor at Oyster magazine, and evolving and expanding the Billy Bride empire.

Adriana Guiffrida: So tell me how Billy Bride started?

Renee Warne: I studied jewellery at COFA and I really liked it, but the course wasn’t very involved so I didn’t really get that into it, but it was enough to pique my interest in jewellery design. I always loved crystals when I was little and thought they were so magical and mysterious, and thought it was pretty amazing that they grew from the earth and lived in little microcosms hidden in rocks. I was doing some road trips down around the South Coast of New South Wales and different parts of Australia with my boyfriend, and came across market stalls that were selling crystals. Seeing them again brought them back to life, so I started buying a few and putting them around the house. Then I found a few little ones, and it just occurred to me to make some jewellery out of them. I got the first one done and people who saw it were really amazed by it, and everyone was feeling the same thing, so I thought – let’s do it!

AG: How did you come up with the idea of the setting, where the base is soldered onto the metal and the stone is kept so raw? Did you know from the start exactly how you wanted it?

RW: I think it just happened organically. I didn’t see any other way to do it. I wanted it to be about the stone, and for there not to be anything detracting from the way it was. It was so beautiful on its own. They have such unusual shapes and that’s what is so spectacular about them, so I thought, ‘Let’s not fool around with them, let’s build something behind them, to support them and make them wearable.’

AG: Do you believe in the healing energy of the crystals you are wearing?

RW: Yeah I definitely do, I haven’t come across anyone who doesn’t. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who can sit there and look at it and not feel feel something. They definitely have something. The way they occur is pretty miraculous – there is not really anything else that way in nature that is so beautiful, so fragile and comes from stone. I don’t know if you feel it subconsciously, but there is an energy about having them around you, even if you are putting them in your workspace…

AG: Almost like a protection?

RW: Yeah, I think there is a sense of harmony, and there are definitely different stones that resonate with different people.

AG: Do you find it very difficult to find the right kind of stone? Or do you let the stones choose you in a way?

RW: It is – in the sense that it is quite rare to find ones that are suitable – which are the right size and shape to be made into jewellery, because they have to be wearable and not too heavy. They also have to be strong, because you want to wear them everyday so you don’t want them to be too fragile. It is also because it’s not everywhere you go that you find ones that are right – but there are certain ones that you can see in a box at a market stall, that some guy has mined from the outback, and you see them straight away. They sing out to you, and you just grab them.

AG: Your rings are generating a lot of interest from people because they are so beautiful and the stones so rare. Do you see yourself doing other forms of jewellery in the future, expanding from rings?

RW: I am working on some ideas for launching a new range towards the end of the year, which has the theme of a buried stone, where there is a lot more metal work. It is still very rough and organic, but more like what you would imagine a crystal to be if you found it yourself – like a sparkling crystal enclosed in a lot more metal. So, it’s kind of like a hidden stone that will lend itself more to pendants and bracelets, and other forms of jewellery.

AG: Is that where you see yourself going with Billy Bride in the future? Will you constantly expand on working with crystals, or expand even furthur into working with other stones?

RW: Jewellery has always featured pearls and diamonds and semi precious stones, and it surprises me that crystals haven’t been used in their natural form more in the past. They really haven’t been used in fine jewellery the way they naturally occur, as far as I know, ever before. So I think that people will always want to wear stones, and things that have that sparkle. I think that there is something special about them, so I think I will always use them. I feel really inspired working with crystals, I have ideas all the time of things I want to make, and I really want to make things that are different.

AG: Your blog Billy Bride, which has a lot of followers, is a pretty amazing visual diary of what you are inspired by. Do you find that it’s an easy way to keep track of what’s going on in your mind?

RW: I think it’s such a worthwhile way to keep track of things that go on in your life, things you see and love and things that are inspiring you. A lot of the time I’ll see something and put it on the blog because it catches my eye, and later I find that I want to look back on it, and that I have a use for it in an application that I’ve seen. It’s great to have it there, and it’s cool for people to see a bit of background to the thought processes that are behind the creation of the jewellery. I would recommend blogging to anyone.

AG: You also work in the fashion industry as a design assistant for ksubi, and more currently as the Beauty Editor at Oyster, so you are surrounded by creativity all the time. Do you find this is part of your inspiration process as well, that you want to do things quite separate from your work?

RW: It definitely gives me a drive to do my own thing. I know that I want to be in a creative industry, and I’m not sure which area I want to work in yet, but writing, design-assisting, and doing this jewellery project are all really complimentary. I find that they all intersect with each other, and different elements are useful in other applications. It definitely keeps me motivated to keep achieving things outside of that realm.

Available online at Billy Bride and at The Corner Shop in Sydney

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