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An Interview with Jewellery Designer Kate Sibley, talking about her ‘Future Jewellery’ Collection

London based designer Kate Sibley, of design studio Sibley Grove, talks us through her new bold and sustainable jewellery collection created with beautifully folded stone paper.

Written by Maria Papadimitriou

Kate Sibley Jewellery by Laura Griffin
Kate Sibley Jewellery by Laura Griffin

When I first looked at images of Kate Sibley’s stone ‘paper’ Future Jewellery I was reminded of a gorgeous book I fell in love with a few years ago called ‘The Paper Jewelry Collection: Easy to wear and ready to make pop out artwear’. It features beautiful patterns printed on variously shaped paper which you can remove from the book and fold in different ways to create eye catching jewellery pieces. I still have this book and, like Kate Sibley’s jewellery, find it hugely inspiring. Both push boundaries in terms of what form jewellery pieces can have and what materials they are made of – the latter being especially crucial at the moment in terms of sustainability. The limited edition pieces by Kate Sibley are transitory and deliberately have a short lifespan, agreeing with the fast fashion trend. Yet the jewellery, made from non-toxic stone ‘paper’, can be infinitely recycled or safely composted at the end of its life, leaving no negative imprint on the environment. Here Kate Sibley shares with us a little about the context, inspirations and processes behind her origami-like jewellery collection.

Kate Sibley Jewellery Necklaces group

You started out as a graphic designer, how did you become interested in jewellery design specifically and decide to do an MA at Central Saint Martins?
My undergraduate degree was in eco design and design studies at Goldsmiths College where my final piece was in fact a jewellery collection. The graphics route was purely by chance and a result of the experience I gained on work placements while still at university. It became a logical career path upon graduation as it gave me the opportunity to make money as a practicing designer. After several years of full time employment I took the step to become a freelance graphic designer which enabled me to focus more on other creative interests including my jewellery. I then applied to continue my studies at Central St Martins as it would provide me with a network of mentors and place me in a stimulating environment to further develop my ideas.

Kate Sibley Necklace
Kate Sibley Necklace
How does your graphic design background influence your jewellery collections?
My decision to work with paper for my latest collection was born out of my desire to question the fast fashion industry and explore sustainable materials and systems. After a year of intensive materials research the logical path took me to the stone paper I use today. Having a deep knowledge of graphics and print enabled me to really explore a unique approach to my jewellery where I had very few restrictions. I could explore, colour, tone, pattern and form in a way that you can’t with traditional jewellery making processes. It also had its problems as it makes it incredibly hard to make decisions when your options are endless so you need to be confident in your ideas and follow them through with conviction.

Kate Sibley Jewellery by Isher Dhiman
Kate Sibley Jewellery by Isher Dhiman

Could you tell us a bit more about the ‘Cradle to Cradle’ theory and closed loop systems and the influence they’ve had on your work?
The term Cradle to Cradle refers to a designed system where commercial productivity and sustainability can co-exist and benefit one another. This is achieved by ensuring that products and materials are designed to fit onto a biological and/or a technical system – closed loop. A biological system refers to materials that can harmlessly decompose and return to the earth providing nourishment rather than toxic landfill, whereas a technical system is one based on materials being reprocessed repeatedly without degradation or any loss in quality. Cradle to Cradle has influenced my work greatly. What I like is that it provides a rational and practical solution to a sustainable future whilst celebrating abundance and creativity. Rather than the consumer being half-heartedly encouraged to change their consumer behavior, the ball is firmly in the court of designers and manufacturers to design better products. It is a challenge, but designers like myself thrive on creative challenges.
My current collection is designed with materials that fit within both a biological and a technical cycle.

Kate Sibley Pin
Where do you source the paper from which your current collection is made?
I source the paper from a supplier in Europe as it is not available in the UK.

Kate Sibley Jewellery by Polly Stopforth

Where did you learn to fold so beautifully and by what process do you apply the eye catching patterns and colours on the pieces?
Strangely I’ve always had a fascination with folding paper. I think it’s something to do with pushing a material to its limits and really exploring it’s potential. The techniques and folds I’ve used to produce this collection have all been developed by myself as a way to overcome design issues and to form the shapes and structures I wanted. The colour and patterns are screen printed by myself.

Kate Sibley Necklace
You are the co-director of the design studio Sibley Grove with your husband Jeremy Grove. How do the other design disciplines the studio is involved in impact your jewellery work? Is working with diverse worlds helping your creative juices?
Running the design studio alongside developing my jewellery collections is hard work, but I enjoy it as I thrive on being busy and productive. We work across several disciplines, interior design, architecture, graphics and product, and I find all of these areas inspire my jewellery because they expose me to materials and processes I might not otherwise come across. The jewellery also positively influences the rest of the work our studio does, because it is a platform to be more experimental and try new things, but on a smaller scale.

Kate Sibley Future Jewellery Necklace by Shy Illustrations
Kate Sibley Future Jewellery Necklace by Shy Illustrations

In terms of fashion and jewellery design what are your inspirations?
My inspirations for this collection have mainly come from the art deco architecture of downtown Manhattan, where I am particularly attracted to the repeat patterns that are made with tiling, patterns cast into building facades and the forms made by railings and ironwork. In general though, my inspirations can come from anywhere, from the detailing on a train seat, to the beauty of an insects wing.

Kate Sibley Earrings
Kate Sibley Earrings
Kate Sibley Earrings
For your near future collections do you plan to explore more folding techniques and continue the use of ‘paper’ or can you reveal some more sustainable materials you have in mind using?
This collection of earrings will evolve into other shapes and colours, which will be released each fashion season, but all future pieces will fit into the universal earring clasp. I am interested in exploring other ways of printing on and texturing the surface of the paper material, and feel there is great potential to explore this further. I intend for the collection to grow and to release necklaces, bangles and brooches in the future. I am always researching new and interesting materials and have a growing collection which I will certainly experiment with in the future.

Kate Sibley Jewellery by Katie Allen
Kate Sibley Jewellery by Katie Allen

How could one become the owner of one of your beautiful pieces?
At the moment I am accepting commissions to produce bespoke pieces of any scale. This specific collection will be launched for sale in the new year and you will be able to buy pieces through a number of galleries and shops. You can contact us through our website, or at to be added to our mailing list for further updates, or to talk about commissioning possibilities.


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One Response to “An Interview with Jewellery Designer Kate Sibley, talking about her ‘Future Jewellery’ Collection”

  1. Rob says:

    I think the designs are fantastic – especially the paper earrings. I have seen similar creations in Japan. Love it!

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