The Earrings of 2020 - Embrace

Looking through the notes in my phone yesterday, I found the following:

Earring Idea

Curved, horseshoe like shape, using tubes the way we used them for the Ruth Bracelets, but 3D (sort of triangular).

This little find made me so happy. The note was dated 2019, but these earrings really came into their own in 2020. Initially I had planned for them to hang the other way round, but when I made them I made a mistake, and a twist emerged that I hadn't expected. I was disappointed until it occurred to me - that twist made it possible for the earring to fit either side of the ear. I made a few pairs, they sold out in days, and I knew they were a hit because our retail team were having to insist to eager customers that no, they couldn't sell their own pairs to them second hand!

One thing we have learned in 2020 is that Beloved is perfectly set up for working from home, and social distancing where that isn't possible. Our amazing production team work from home, and can visit our workshop twice a month to collect materials. That was our set up long before it became necessary. Our onsite team work in a spacious, airy environment and can work in shifts when needed. And owing to my forced exile from my chosen home (more about that in the new year), I haven't been allowed to work whilst in South Africa since 2019. That, too, is a survivable situation... mostly!

The one area of our work where we really do need to be in a room together though is in 'product development', or as we tend to call it, 'making new pretty things'! The normal work flow is that I make an initial few samples, we test them in the shops, if people like them I sit for a few hours with my amazing colleague who heads up training, teaching her how to make them, then gradually she teaches everyone in our production team. At that point we can put them into our catalogue.

Somewhere in that process we have to come up with a name for the new pretty thing! We may ask customers who buy the first few samples for their ideas. We sit around the table thinking it through. And sometimes we'll ask friends for their thoughts. That is how the Embrace Earrings got their name. I wrote to a dear friend and fellow jeweller and said 'what do these earrings make you think of?', and she responded 'they look like a hug!'. In the year that we had to stop hugging most of the people we love, the Embrace Earring felt like a particularly apt name.

Since it has been impossible to sit with my colleagues in person and pass on this design, I have continued to make them myself. Doing so has been an important reminder of how hard my colleagues work. I love making each pair, but it is definitely a labour of love. My colleagues are truly amazing, I can't wait until the day when I'm allowed to hug and work alongside them in person again. Something that will only be possible once South Africa receives it's fair share of vaccines, and the Department of Home Affairs sees sense and allows me to return home.