Empathy prize celebrates captivating use of gemstones.
Whitby Jet jewellery brand W. Hamond has been awarded the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) award for the most ethical supplier – the Gem-A Empathy award.
The award is presented to W. Hamond at IJL, where a panel of judges vote on which exhibitor has displayed, in their opinion, a single piece or collection of jewellery that makes captivating use of one or more gemstones.
The judging criteria also require the pieces to have accurate ethical descriptions, and to be presented with creativity, imagination, and of course, attractiveness.
CW Sellors owned W. Hamond took home the Empathy award this year for its Whitby Jet jewellery, having been making collections using the English fossilized wood stone since 1860.
W. Hamond sources its Whitby jet by natural processes such as beach combing local shores with help from local people, while translating the stones into classic and contemporary jewellery designs. The processes they use today are also said to have remained similar to those practiced more than 150 years ago in Victorian jet jewellery.
Gem-A’s chief executive James Riley, the head judge of the award, said: “There was a few tough contenders this year, as always – but once again it had to go to W. Hamond. I say once again, as parent company CW Sellors won the award the last two years for the English Derbyshire Blue John.
“It might seem like favouritism, but hunting around the show we found no better example of an ethical product. We know exactly where Whitby Jet comes from and the processes it goes through to become a stunningly beautiful final product.”
Riley added that W. Hamond had successfully managed to take the Victorian mourning jewellery connotations of the jet to transform it into jewellery with a worldwide market.
W. Hamond owner Chris Sellors said “CW Sellors took on W. Hamond in 1997 after the owner wanted to hand the business down to a company who cared about the way they operated.
“Since then it’s not just been a case of restoring the premises and the Victorian workshop but also creating a modern workshop and updating the product itself to fit into a modern market. We think this is a not only a real British product, but also a great export opportunity.”
CW Sellors has invested in doubling the size of the company over recent years and Sellors said it has increased its overseas business.
“We’re proud to own one of the largest pieces of Whitby Jet in the world, which is all gem quality, this piece would never be cut to make jewellery as provides an unique educational tool to illustrate the way in which the unique gemstone is formed.”