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Instead of Black Friday, Cornelia Webb initiates a circular jewellery initiative this weekend
”As we are moving into the year of 2020 where we need to bend the curves to reach a more sustainable life on the planet in line with agenda 2030. We as a brand must take our responsibility and question ’business as usual’,” she says.
To stay inspired, balanced and in constant transformation, Cornelia Webb splits her time between the Swedish countryside, Stockholm, Bali, France and Italy. In order to thrive both as a human and business leader she tries to work as much on her inside as on her company.
How’d you describe yourself?
— I’m a hyperactive sagittarius in constant need for change in both environment and challenges and this week I’m giving birth to my second child. My background is within medicine and I think that still sets the tone to everything I do even though it can seem as I'm working in a very different industry now. The body has always been my main inspiration and passion, making it strong, health and honoring it. My initial plan was to combine eastern and western medicine under one roof working on mental health, today I’m instead combining eastern jewellery traditions and western techniques to explore how a piece of jewellery can make you feel.
Her brand is now 15 years old and has as all human cells, companies and people renewed itself a couple of times. The core has always been the same though, to thrive and to question everything.
— As we are moving into the year of 2020 where we need to bend the curves to reach a more sustainable life on the planet in line with agenda 2030. We as a brand(Industry and brand) must take our responsibility and question “business as usual”, she says.
They started this process a couple of years ago on several levels in the company. Looking at everything from product development, the seasonal cycles, raw materials, the work life balance in the team.
— To celebrate our 15 years in the industry and the 10 year anniversary of the Planetary Boundaries, we are looking forward to reinvent ourselves and the purposes of our products during this coming year. As Kate Raworth, inventor of the doughnut economy, says: Today we have economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive. What we need are economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow. Thriving has always been the lead factor for me, leaving the path of medicine to explore creativity and questioning what a piece of jewellery could be defined as, creating dresses of chains when the market was selling only the basic categories back in 2005. The challenge then was to reintroduce old ways of decorating our bodies again, today the challenge is different. Now we need to question how we produce jewellery, what the relationship jewellery — carrier should look like, and with inspiration from history also the question of what a piece of jewellery can do for its wearer, is it only decoration?
3 years ago, Webb started searching for a factory closer to their Stockholm-based studio that could recycle silver. One that took care of the whole process in house and did not just say that they bought recycled silver.
— The ambition was always to become a part of the chain and a small local process was a key thing for that to happen. We needed a partner that had the same ambition and with whom we could become a part of the solution instead of the problem in our industry. Today, we need to shift our mindset to transformation.
Here’s how the circular project works, with Cornelia Webb’s own words:
— Deserted Sterling silver jewelry is recycled and transformed into new objects, bearing the energy of both the present and the past.
— Together we co-create a block chain were we all benefit, especially the planet who gets to keep its raw materials in the ground. As a customer you become a part of this chain by trading in Sterling silver and in return you receive the value as a voucher for a future purchase of another recycled Sterling silver piece.
— The origin of the silver can be any, as long as it carries the 925 stamp, it does not need to be a Cornelia Webb piece of jewellery — but it will eventually become one.
— The silver will then be sent to our manufacturer in Italy and after the purification process reused in our own production.
— With the introduction of circularity we hope to save deserted jewellery and shine a light on the important issue of honouring the raw materials we have already derived from earth.
And it will hopefully result in new products. What could you tell us about those?
— As we are in the starting process of this we will need to use both our own circular silver and bought recycled silver to meet the demand of our main line products. However, during fall 2020 we will introduce a small line that will be sold exclusively on our site and only use circular silver from our customers. So if no one hands in silver to us there will be no products to sell, we’re simply hoping that a demand will catalyze a change in patterns and catalyze action.
How will you develop this circular initiative in the future?
— That still lies in the future to tell, and we hope to co-create that future with our customers. Anyone who hands in silver will be a part of our change makers’ list and will be invited to shape that path with us.
This is not the first time Cornelia Webb challenges her industry. Earlier this year, the face of their campaign for women’s and unisex jewellery was a male model.
— I’ve always been drawn to using non traditional models. We met Marlon for the first time one year ago and he loved the collection as much as we loved him as a person. He just looks stunning in it and we hope that he will inspire more men to question what ”male jewellery” is.
Any other special projects coming?
— Yes, several, and they all circle around redefining jewellery or ownership. What we can tell you now is that we want to start by reimagine the purpose of owning, and question what it is that gives an object its value, what builds its story, and can we build it collectively? says Webb, continuing,
— With the launch of our rental section during the coming year, we aim to reduce our footprints on a global scale and reuse instead of reproduce. Along with offering renting as a try out option to a selection of our core styles, to minimize the risk of buying things you don't really want, we will also open up our archive to customers. Making it possible to co-own that ring that is no longer produced, or to wear, for example, that choker that Rihanna had on the cover of Tush magazine for a special occasion.
However, Webb is soon facing a way more important task.
— Now, for me the challenge will be to let go and be at ease with business for the sake of introducing a new human to the planet.Cornelia Webb