Gemma Atwell’s literary trinkets and treasures

Thimble Kiss pendant1 by Gemma AtwellWe all know that thimbles are kisses, don’t we? It’s what Wendy told Peter in J. M. Barrie’s beautiful tale of lost boys, fairies, pirates and ticking crocodiles, so it must be true.

Silversmith and jewellery maker Gemma Atwell capture these notions beautifully in her creations, drawing inspiration from fairytales, children’s literature and even songs.

“I’m a dreamer and find it easy to get lost in stories,” Gemma confesses. “If something has text on it I am drawn to it and I love to include writing on my pieces of jewellery. The lines I use in my work are generally from those fairy tales that stay with us long in to adulthood. There’s a magic to those stories that I personally wouldn’t want to let go of.”

Snow White bangle by Gemma Atwell

I’m a particular fan of the bangle above, which bears the opening lines from Grimms’ Snow White: “It was the middle of winter, and the snowflakes were falling like feathers, and the queen sat at her window…

How beautifully poetic!

Gemma’s love of intricate jewellery began when she herself was very small. “An aunt and uncle gave me a charm bracelet as a christening gift and for each birthday and Christmas until I was 10 they added a charm,” she recalls. “The tiny charms fascinated me and I still wear it today.”

However, becoming a jeweller herself happened almost by accident. “It was something I fell into really,” she says. “I’ve always needed to create and ‘do’ and after deciding to sign up to a short silversmithing course I was hooked, I wasn’t looking for a career but after a few weeks I could tell I’d found more than a hobby.”

After the evening classes Gemma attended a City & Guilds course in jewellery design. “A few years later I felt confident enough to set up a little home studio. It took quite a long time to decide to quit my day job but so far things are thankfully moving in the right direction.”

Moongazing Rabbit pendant by Gemma Atwell

Moongazing Rabbit pendant by Gemma Atwell

Gemma is always hungry to learn more about her trade. “I never really stop learning so every day is different, which helps to push me to improve and develop my designs,” she says. “Social media is also great for finding inspiring people and the artisan community is full of such talented and friendly folk that encourage you to love what you do and take real pride in it too.”

Creating a piece of jewellery is a joyous process for Gemma. “I love the way a simple idea can develop, I like the design stage of sketching and filling out my design books and seeing how that idea turns into a piece of wearable jewellery to be sent out into the world,” Gemma says. “And the reaction of someone who likes my work never fails to make my tummy flip!”

Her materials contribute to this satisfaction too. “With both silver and gold it is the alchemy that I love. Taking a piece of raw metal and turning it into something beautiful, something that often means so much to its wearer, that is a precious thing.”

Find Gemma’s creations at markets such as the Bath Artisan and the Frome Independent. The Silver Shed shop is on at Discover what Gemma’s feeling inspired by today by following her at or as @silvershedgirl on Instagram and Twitter.

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