In the face of overconsumption and mass consumerism, Kay Reed’s commitment to conservation is resolute. With the aim of using her art to change the world we live in, Kay’s mission is to use jewellery to turn every one of her customers into Conservation Ambassadors. Kay Reed also uses recycled gold, silver, and gemstones — which means that you can wear every piece of jewellery with pride, knowing that it didn’t have a negative impact on the environment.
We chat with Kay Reed and chat about the philosophy of her brand, and how it is inextricably linked to the environment. Every piece of jewellery features an endangered species, and so Kay Reed is slowly changing perceptions about conservation, one beautiful piece of jewellery at a time.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start Kay Reed?
I spent my childhood years searching for fossils, wildlife, and ‘pretty’ stones along the wild and windy beaches of the North east coast of England. Leaving there in the early 1990s to complete a degree in silversmithing at Birmingham City University.
I was inspired by an Antony Gormley interview that I saw. I can’t remember his exact words but he said that, as an artist, you change the world slightly by placing something in it that wasn’t there before. I thought, well I’m an artist, and if I could change the world I would make everyone aware of how important it is to support animal and habitat conservation. So I set about with my silversmithing to do just that.
Jewellery is such an emotive media to work with. When a beautiful piece is completed, it can spark a conversation; ‘It was a birthday gift’ or ‘it was bought at a little market on holiday’. I thought that I could use that conversation to create awareness for animal conservation, and to spread the word of the plight of our planet.
How important is sustainability and conservation to the ethos of your brand? Could you tell us more about your responsible production process?
My designs represent different endangered species safely encased in a circle of habitat, made from recycled gold, silver, and reclaimed gemstones. The packaging is from sustainable resources and each piece comes with an information card (made from recycled t-shirt rags) to encourage the wearer to talk about the plight of the endangered species in their piece, and how we can help. Not to mention, 10% of profits are donated to wildlife charities. Even my workshop was put together from reclaimed building salvage that destined for land fill. My work is about making jewellery, my jewellery is about my passion.
We are faced with so many problems concerning the planet and its survival that it sometimes seems like there is too much to do to fix it. Where do we start? We start by pulling in the same direction, spreading the word about the poaching, raising awareness on the destruction of habitats, and about just how many species are on the critically endangered list. These animals are not just there for us to look at, they are part of an ecosystem that we are destroying, and their decline is our alarm bell — we need to take action now.
What advice do you have for women who want to become more conscious consumers?
Consumers have the power! As a manufacturer, we need consumers to ask for goods that don’t damage the environment. Recycled gold and silver should be a choice in all high street jewellers but it will only get there if consumers ask for it. We need to work together, every one of us can be part of the solution.