Derry silversmith making waves with jewellery line
Derry born silversmith Laurie Ferguson has been dreaming of making jewellery since she was small. Now, Laurie’s dreams have come true.
Laurie has been making and selling jewellery for a number of years with her business Silkie Silver but she’s now planning to take it to the next level and expand the products she makes.
Laure said: “It all starts with collecting gemstones and crystals when I was about 10. I always got told off in school for wearing rings and jewellery and gemstone jewellery. I’m a person who doesn’t wear much makeup but when it comes to rings and that, I would always have loads on my fingers. My aunt had done some silversmith classes which sort of opened my eyes to the fact that this was something I could do. ”I researched this for ages and watched a lot of videos and found out what I needed. You need a load of tools to even start so I spent six months buying in different tools and materials and things I would need before I could even make one ring with a simple join. It was a long process and a big investment.
"There was a lot of trial and error too, which also means you would ruin things in the process but the reward you get when something works out how you wanted it to or when you find a new way of doing something far outweighs the mistakes.
"Sterling silver is very expensive to buy so even before you make a piece and out hours into it, it’s costly as it is. Gemstones are the same, you can buy ethically resourced gemstones but when you include that gemstone in the piece, it raises the price so much that people don’t want to buy it. So it’s about trying to find a middle ground of what’s affordable for people and what looks good as well.
"I’d been doing research for months and then in July 2020, I started buying things in. In my head, it wasn’t because of Covid because I had been researching this for years but maybe Covid helped speed things along. This just started as a hobby, with me wanting to work with gemstones and make nice little homes for them, be it a necklace or a ring. I had thought that maybe far down the line I could maybe start selling but that wasn’t the intention from the start. Even my Instagram, it wasn’t related to me at all; I didn’t have my name in it or any mention of me. I was so nervous about it, to share that part of me.
"Business was slow, I’ve always said that I find social media so difficult to use anyway so it’s even harder to navigate for a business. I used to sell through a wee shop in the Craft Village, which was great. I used to leave wee things in and sometimes it was hard to keep them stocked when they were busy. I work, too, so I do this in my spare time but it was so lovely to see other people buying your things and enjoying them as much as you did making them.
"Natasha reached out to me about the Derry pendants so we sent messages about how we could team up and I made up a tester batch that she was really happy with. The design hasn’t changed at all since we started working on this a year ago and I think it’s because they’re so real looking. Why change them when they work as they are? It was fantastic to meet Natasha as she runs the Derry Business Collective and they’ve helped bump up businesses massively over the past few years. It also really opened me up to that community aspect of being an online crafter or seller.
"I would always be open to collaborating with other businesses, obviously depending on the idea and if I can actually do it. With Natasha, these pendants really work and Natasha has such a great brand herself that it’s really enjoyable to work with her.
"I’ve had some exciting life changes recently that have made my hobby and my wee small business take a back seat for now. It’s slowed things down a bit and I was flat out over summer attending craft fairs and the Business Collective event in the Guildhall so I’m ready to hibernate a bit now for autumn. I’m really hoping to start working with gold in the future, which I’ll be doing through wax casting. That’s where you create a piece out of wax and you send it off to a caster who then makes it out of gold or sterling silver. That’s my next venture and where I want to take Silkie Silver in the future.
"I was never a gold person but I love antique jewellery. Most antique jewellery is gold, apart from that art-deco period so now, I’m appreciating gold jewellery more and the worth of it. I also understand how much gold jewellery means to people so I want to create something that people will love. I’ll not be changing my business name if I start working with gold, though!
"It’s important to point out that there’s so many local businesses and everyone’s trying to support one another. Sometimes it’s so easy to give into the cheap things in big brand stores but when you reach out to a local crafter, they put so much effort, time and love into a piece, it's important to support that.”
Laurie’s pieces can be found on Facebook and Instagram @silkiesilver.