Carrie K: The Local Silversmith Bringing Back Artisanal Jewellery for Men
It used to be the case that guys wouldn't touch jewellery with a ten foot pole; unless it was jewellery for the opposite sex of course. And even then, only for special occassions that warranted such bling (birthdays, anniversaries, proposals and so forth) or, if we're honest, trying to buy our way out of trouble. But times, they are a changing.
Walk past any well-dressed gent nowadays and you'll notice stacked silver bracelets worn with a vintage rollie or a tarnished silver necklace peeking out from under his tee. If you want in, then look no further than local silversmith Carrie K.
Founded and created by Carolyn Kan in 2009, Carrie K. celebrates imperfections rather than flawless cookie-cutter shapes and was the result of a happy accident. Kan took a year off from work to travel and found herself learning to silversmith from a local artist in Florence, Italy. After making her first ring and feeling the "great sense of achievement that came from crafting something with [her] own hands", Kan knew she wanted to be a jewellery designer and left her advertising job to launch Carrie K.
Handcrafted the old way with great time and care, the pieces have a raw quality about them and are aimed at guys who have a "strong sense of self and style", declares Kan. Swag up fellas and follow suit.
Carrie K. is available online at CarrieKRocks.com
What is the spirit and ethos behind Carrie K and how is it different from other collections in the market?
We believe in being true to oneself, celebrating the beauty of imperfection as it makes us unique and interesting.
Carrie K. jewellery is playfully elegant and is quite different from the usual perfect, symmetrical, polished pieces. All our pieces are handcrafted by artisans.
How do you approach designing pieces for men as opposed to pieces for women?
I talk to men about how they select jewellery and their tastes far more than when I design for women. Men think very differently to women when it comes to jewellery and accessories. Men are a lot more pragmatic and particular than women. They demand both design and wearability - something that is comfortable and not restrictive. Whereas women are more likely to suffer a little discomfort for the right look (e.g. 6 inch heels or statement cuffs that have to be removed at the office).
When I started designing cufflinks, I discovered that men are very specific about the type of cufflinks they like. Some are “kitchen-counter-to-door” fans (i.e. they prefer easy to wear cufflinks that they can put on quickly without help) whereas others like the double cuff linked by a chain. Most men have an idea about what they like before they set out, whereas most women are happy to explore the great wide world to see what calls out to them.
You also provide a bespoke jewellery service. Tell us about this service and what are the most common pieces requested by men?
Quite a few men have asked for customized rings that feature words that are meaningful to them. The rings are fashioned from sterling silver, distressed and oxidized with their word stamped on to it.
I noticed a demand for bespoke, artisan crafted accessories for men. As such, we have selected a small but potent group of talented, independent designer/ artisans who are able to make-to-measure men’s accessories on request at our third KEEPERS Showcase on Saturday 26th May. Carrie K. supports independent artisans by showcasing them at KEEPERS, a quarterly event at the Carrie K. Atelier. Aside from our men’s collection and bespoke service by Carrie K., we will showcase:
J Myers, Leather artisan
Ed Et Al, Bespoke Shoemaker
Vanda Clothing, traditionally handcrafted menswear accessories
Lollapalooza, purveyor of grower-producer Champagnes
Creamier, bespoke ice-cream maker
What are your best selling “ready-to-wear” pieces for men?
As many of my designs are quite androgenous, we do get quite a few men picking up pieces from our regular collections. Our current collection is called “Gender Bender” which re-designs things from one gender to work for both. The most popular pieces from that collection are our sterling silver bow ties, solid silver diamond cut signet ring and cufflinks.
What is your advice to men who are new to wearing jewellery?
Be true to yourself and wear pieces that reflect who you are.
Do you think the market for male jewellery will continue to grow? If so, what are the emerging trends?
Yes, I do see a growing number of men picking up jewellery for themselves. Men are definitely more comfortable wearing jewellery that is not specifically designed for men or sold in the men’s department.
As Carrie K. designs are rather androgynous, if a piece they like fits, the guys will just pick it up. A year ago they were more likely to ask if the pieces are for men or women first.
What is your advice to people who might be considering a career change into something more creative?
If you do what you are passionate about, it does not feel like work.
Photography by Simon Sim