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Meet the Makers: Ellis Mhairi Cameron at Liberty

How Ellis Mhairi Cameron Created Her Eponymous Jewellery Brand

Paying homage to her homeland while redefining the meaning of beauty, this sought-after Scottish jewellery designer takes Liberty back to her beginnings
By: George Elliot

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How Ellis Mhairi Cameron Created Her Eponymous Jewellery Brand

How Ellis Mhairi Cameron Created Her Eponymous Jewellery Brand

Paying homage to her homeland while redefining the meaning of beauty, this sought-after Scottish jewellery designer takes Liberty back to her beginnings

By: George Elliot

Champions of the creative spirit, we've always spotlighted those who go above and beyond to deliver the unexpected – and now we’d like to help push them forward. Join us as we share the stories of the most courageous changemakers, experimental artisans and progressive innovators that make the Liberty community so extraordinary.

From rings forged with their own unique set of ridges and peaks, mirroring the wild and rocky Highlands, to sculptural pendants and earrings inspired by medieval treasures unearthed from under her grandparents’ farmland, every piece of jewellery Ellis Mhairi Cameron casts and carves is a love letter to her native Scotland. Distinct for their rebellious edge and signature ‘erosive’ finish, they also invite the wearer to discover the perfection hidden within imperfection, the charming irregularities that make each of her handmade gems truly one-of-a-kind. But before honing such a recognisable sense of style and ultimately becoming one of the brightest young things within the jewellery scene, how did her passion for making first ignite? What advice would she give to budding jewellers looking to follow her footsteps? Here, she sits with Liberty to answer all…


How Did You First Get into Jewellery Design?

I have always been a ‘maker’ of sorts! I grew up in a very creative household as my mother was a primary school teacher, so we always had drawers and drawers of materials to play with, from paints to fabrics and buttons. This ability to ‘play’ and collage things together definitely allowed me to explore my creativity from a very young age. From a more technical point of view, my Dad was a skilled mechanic, and I used to watch him soldering, completely mesmerised by how two separate objects could be fused together; it felt like magic!

But while I knew I wanted to work in a creative field, I wasn’t sure exactly what felt right, so when I finished high school, I applied to a portfolio preparation course at Cardonald College in Glasgow. This course was a bit of everything – painting, photography, textiles, drawing, and importantly, jewellery. I realised the latter was an artform that let me touch on so much, from recording ideas through photography, sketching and collaging, then working into three dimensional forms.

I went on to train at The Glasgow School of Art, for a BA in Silversmithing and Jewellery, to gain technical skills and explore design concepts. I loved the more organic techniques, like casting and reticulation. I then moved to London, to pursue a Master's in Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins. This was a two year MA, focused on ‘why?’: why did my designs matter, what was my narrative, who was my client? It helped contextualise my work and why it was important. After my MA, I then completed a year-long business-oriented course at The Goldsmiths Centre. This equipped me with the skills to transform my jewellery passion into a successful business. I officially started my brand in 2018, and it’s been an amazing journey so far!

Describe Your Brand in an Elevator Pitch…

I create sculptural gold jewellery inspired by my Scottish heritage. Growing up in the Highlands of Scotland, I fell in love with its history. On my family farmland, we have excavated medieval artefacts, such as sections of rings, lockets and swords – these discoveries have heavily informed my collections. I use traditional techniques, such as hand carving and casting, to give my pieces their signature erosive aesthetic. To ensure accountability, my work is created in my London studio from 100% recycled 14ct gold and traceable diamonds. At the foundation of my brand is a belief in the beauty of imperfection, hand craftsmanship and to provide clients with jewellery to be handed down the generations.

When Are You at Your Most Creative?

It has to be when I’m at home in the Highlands, connecting with the landscape and walking on the land. The unpredictability of what we might find next, buried within the farmland is an amazing feeling. These discoveries are such an important link to my ancestral heritage; literal connections to my roots. There’s something extremely humbling about it. At any moment when digging in the landscape, a glint of something special catches your eye and a piece of history is excavated from the earth. The artefacts found on the farm date back centuries and tell stories of a bygone era. These discoveries remind me of the depth of human history and the importance of preserving and celebrating our heritage. Translating the colours of the landscape also plays a significant role in my creative process. The changing seasons, the Highland sunset's colours, and the land's textures all influence my designs. Similarly, my creative process is also fuelled by the materials I work with. The character and individuality of each stone, especially antique diamonds, inspires me to create pieces that honour their history and beauty.

What’s Your Biggest Distraction?

One of my biggest distractions is the allure of exploring new materials and gemstones. As a jewellery designer, I'm naturally drawn to the endless possibilities that different stones and metals offer. I often get sidetracked when sourcing diamonds, whether it's discovering unique cuts, colours, or textures I have yet to work with. I'm always eager to experiment and push the boundaries of my materials, which can lead me down many exciting but distracting paths. While this distraction can sometimes slow me down, it's also integral to my creative process. It allows me to continuously evolve and innovate, keeping my ideas fresh and new.

What Advice Would You Give Someone Looking to Start Their Own Brand?

First and foremost, follow your passion. Choose jewellery design because it truly resonates with you. The jewellery world demands dedication and your enthusiasm will be your driving force. Education is also key, both conceptually and technically, as continuous learning is key to finding your unique voice. Your work should reflect your distinctive style and perspective, so take time to build a strong brand identity, cohesive visual style, a genuine brand story and stay true to your core values and vision (authenticity is a powerful asset in the jewellery industry). Be adaptable and patient; everything cannot and should not happen overnight. Embrace change, listen and be open to new ideas. And finally, think about traceability, the environment and social impact of your brand; no one is perfect, but make small changes as you go.

What Does Success Look Like to You?

Success to me is multifaceted; it is a blend of creative fulfilment, material responsibility and a positive impact on the lives of those who wear and own my jewellery. First and foremost, success is about creating jewellery that resonates with people; pieces that carry meaning and emotion. Often my jewellery is bought to mark special milestones and signify the beginning or the end of a chapter in someone's life, which is an amazing thing to be part of.

What Are Your Three Best Tips for Creativity?

1. Allow yourself breaks. Creativity cannot be constant, and sometimes you will hit blocks, so let yourself live through them and the ideas will come.

2. Do less, well. Taking on too much means everything will receive less attention. Break things into manageable amounts and take your time with it. It is better to have a smaller, more cohesive collection which is true to you than one that’s larger and disconnected.

3. Stay Curious. Exploring new avenues while retaining brand identity is the most important thing for me, so think of new ideas and keep things fresh, and never be afraid to ask for advice from others.

How Do You Explore Your Scottish Heritage through Your Designs?

My upbringing in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by the region's rich history, has left an indelible mark on myself and my work. All of my jewellery stems from an interest in how our identities are influenced by our specific locations and how this forms social heritage. Throughout history, regardless of country or continent, ancient cultures have adorned their bodies. A focus of my research is exploring the reasoning behind why we wear jewellery and the symbolism and sentiment that a piece of jewellery can hold. My work takes cues from Scotland's historical relationship with talisman – objects worn for protection and adorned for their aesthetic beauty. My jewellery also reflects the rugged Scottish terrain and the weathering of historical objects over time, in order to create pieces that look ancient, as if pulled from the earth, filled with intricacy. I aim to create a bridge between the ancient past and the contemporary world, allowing my clients to connect with a sense of history and place through my jewellery.

Your Work Explores the Concept of Beauty. What Does Beauty Mean and Look Like to You?

It’s a complex concept – I think it extends far beyond conventional aesthetics. In my work, beauty isn't solely about outward appearance; it's about the stories, history, and craftsmanship behind each piece of jewellery. Beauty emerges when I can breathe new life into old materials, creating something that resonates with my clients on a deeper level. It's about embracing imperfection, celebrating irregularities, and the allure in erosion and passing of time.

Do Your Designs Reflect Your Personality?

My jewellery designs are a profound extension of my identity, rooted in my heritage, core values, and life experiences. Much like the artistry of body decoration through tattoos, my jewellery is a form of self-expression. My tattoos, which are often a topic of curiosity, are not purely aesthetic, but based on intricate drawings I have conceived over years of design research. I think jewellery can be a form of everyday armour – something we wear to give confidence and to express who we are.

How Important is Craftsmanship to Your Atelier?

Every piece of jewellery I create is a labour of love, meticulously crafted by hand in my London studio from wax, then cast in solid gold, hand textured, and then set with diamonds. I have an amazing team who work with me on the bench, all of whom are incredibly skilled craftspeople. I am committed to quality, authenticity, and longevity. It's about creating pieces that stand thetest of time in terms of durability and timeless design.

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