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Eileen Gatt Polar Ice Jewellery Collection

Eileen Gatt

How our innovation team has helped Black-Isle based jeweller Eileen Gatt

Eileen Gatt

A jeweller using her craft to shine a light on climate change and endangered species

Eileen Gatt is a skilled jeweller and silversmith, who turned a former post office in the Black Isle into her studio where she creates beautiful jewellery that uses ethically sourced stones and recycled materials. Eileen designs and makes a variety of cherished items from diamond rings, earrings and bangles to christening spoons and animal figurines. Her career has been far reaching, even selling her work through renowned department store Fortnum & Mason.

She is best known for creating stylised, miniature animal figurines which are incorporated into her jewellery. This is reflective of her passion for wildlife and love of winter landscapes. She puts climate change and protecting species at the heart of her work and has collaborated with environmental charities such as the RSPB.

With 25 years of her craft under her belt, the 50 year old mother of two has much to be proud of. As well as running a business as a sole trader and home schooling during the pandemic, she embarked on an exciting new design project when lockdown hit.

Eileen Gatt in her studio
As a designer it is really important to keep everything fresh and try new creative processes and that’s exactly what the Small Innovation Grant from HIE allowed me to do
Eileen Gatt, Designer and Owner, Eileen Gatt Jewellery and Silverware

Eileen Gatt Shop Front

Our innovation support

Like everyone, the COVID-19 pandemic brought many hurdles and disruption to Eileen Gatt’s business, but it also brought opportunities. A well-timed Small Innovation Grant from HIE in summer 2020 freed Eileen up to experiment with her craft when the world shut down.

Eileen is a self-confessed innovative designer but with young children, she can’t afford to invest heavily as failed attempts are too costly. The Small Innovation Grant allowed her to innovate and explore as it removed the risk factor associated with trying something new.

“As a designer, it is really important to keep everything fresh and try new creative processes and that’s exactly what the Small Innovation Grant from HIE allowed me to do. I was able to go off on a creative tangent while having the flexibility that if some ideas didn’t work, that didn’t matter.”

Eileen Gatt Jewellery collection

The Technique

She started to experiment with electroforming, a technique she believed had more to offer the world of fine jewellery. Traditionally, wax master patterns are used for electroforming so the wax can be melted out to produce hollow forms. However, Eileen wanted to create masters using non-toxic bio-resin. This internal bio-resin would remain inside, providing additional strength to structures. Thanks to this method, she was able to create bigger pieces with limited gold content meaning pieces are lightweight, durable, wearable, beautiful and affordable. 

“I am creating wearable landscape panoramas made from electroformed pure gold taking the form of brooches, rings and wrist pieces. They will feature diamonds and hand-cut aquamarines to illustrate melting icebergs, crowned with tiny 18-carat golden arctic animals. The aim is to evoke discussions around climate change and endangered species.”

Pushing the boundaries

Ever the innovator, Eileen is already excited about how she can push the boundaries of electroforming and incorporate this into other pieces. And with the price of gold increasing, it is a clever technique to employ as it allows you to do more with less. 

“Now that I’ve been able to experiment with electroforming in my work I can upscale this process which is exciting as it opens up many possibilities. It means I can create statement jewellery that looks substantial but is comfortable to wear due to it being light. I experimented with using magnets as invisible fastenings within the resin, but this didn’t work due to the density of the resin interfering with the magnets, but no matter, I tried! I’m now considering new ways to set stones and I’m looking into welding with lasers.”

These wearable landscape panoramas are currently under wraps, with Eileen exhibiting them for the first time at Collect in London’s Somerset House in February 2022. This is another huge milestone for the jeweller as she is one of ten Scottish designers invited to attend the prestigious art fair dedicated to modern craft and design run by the Crafts Council.

Can we help you get your innovative idea off the ground to expand your creativity? Explore more about how we can help below.

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