Swedish design, Italian craft
TEXT: MALIN NORMAN | PHOTOS © CU JEWELLERY
In a fast-changing world of over-consumption, CU Jewellery wants to minimise our impact on the environment. The Sweden-based brand designs beautiful jewellery from recycled silver, which is later skilfully crafted in Italy.
CU Jewellery is the brainchild of Camilla Westergren, her partner Björn Broman and her former colleague Ulrika Hellmark. “We wanted to work with something a bit more long-lasting, such as silver and gemstones, instead of fast, commercial products,” Westergren explains about the idea for the brand. Four years ago, CU Jewellery presented its first collection and it became an instant success.
CU Jewellery launches new designs twice per year − small batches which include additions to existing collections, again taking nature and sustainability into account. “There is a fine balance between production and sales,” admits Westergren. Since 2015, CU Jewellery has been working with recycled silver in order to reduce the impact on the environment. The small manufacturer in Italy, also a family business, guarantees that at least 70 per cent of its material consists of recycled silver. This is an example of how craftsmanship and tradition go hand in hand with modern ideas of sustainable design.
“At CU Jewellery, we have a circular focus,” continues Westergren. “Our message is to protect the environment, and it has been our aim to make the consumer think a bit more carefully about their consumption.” As of this autumn, CU Jewellery now buys silver from consumers and retailers as a way of raising awareness about recycling as well as sourcing materials for new designs. “Many people don’t know that they can actually recycle silver. You can hand in any old piece of silver jewellery to us, regardless of brand. And when you buy our new jewellery, that piece will have a story as it consists of material that has been used before.”
Designs inspired by nature
Nature is obviously central to the brand, and also a source of inspiration in the actual design process. Westergren lives outside Gävle, and her designs have a sleek Scandinavian expression with plenty of references to nature. “We don’t understand how lucky we are in Sweden. Here, I have nature around the corner and bring elements such as pine trees and lingonberry leaves into my designs.”
The all-time bestseller is Butterfly, symbolising happiness and rebirth, which was launched at the very start, four years ago. Another hit is the stunning Dragonfly, with its significance of seizing the day. Fly comes with the message to remain a fighter and never give up, and two years ago, CU Jewellery launched Venus as a tribute to all strong women around the world.
Some of the designs are also influenced by symbols and traffic signs, as seen in the collection Signs, with shapes that we may see every day but might not think about, and the designs are also often influenced by travels. For instance, the collection Roof is inspired by the rooftops in Italy and Spain. “Actually, the shape in Roof is similar to a pine cone, so it all goes hand in hand – somehow it comes full circle.”
Collaboration with Sara Biderman and Josefin Dahlberg
In addition to its own stylish designs, CU Jewellery also collaborates with external parties. The first collaboration with influencer and fashion blogger Josefin Dahlberg, who created Dream Big with the underlying message that nothing is impossible, was very successful. Another such partnership is with Sara Biderman, a Swedish stylist and somewhat of a guru in fashion. “We like to support young, strong women,” confirms Westergren. “Both Biderman and Dahlberg are talented and ambitious. In our partnership, we have found a common path and been able to help each other.”
The Sara Biderman collaboration consists of two collections. The first, named One, sold out instantly, and the latest collection, called Two, was launched just a few weeks ago. It is inspired by vintage, where modern meets classic favourites. “It’s a bit like diving into your grandmother’s jewellery box. Not everything matches, but it somehow works really well together,” smiles Westergren. This is central to the idea with CU Jewellery: you can find your own style with designs from previous and new collections.
At the end of November, CU Jewellery will also launch a unisex collection with rings, bracelets and necklaces, again with elements of nature. The collections are available at selected retailers and in the online shop.