Milayas Jewellery: Small is beautiful
By Karen Gilmour Kristensen | Photos: Milayas Jewellery
Struggling to find her niche within the silver jewellery market, designer Rikke Riise decided to focus on more exclusive materials such as gold and diamonds. Making unique pieces by hand has opened the door to a clientele looking for contemporary style with a personal touch.
Riise’s business, Milayas Jewellery, employs two people – the designer herself and her husband, Jarl. Committed to using recycled and ethically sourced materials, the Riises have chosen to work with small but exclusive suppliers.
“This has given us the opportunity to get to know them on a personal level and ensure that they share our values, which for us is not just about money,” says Jarl Riise. “We use the same suppliers regularly, because we know they have the things we’re looking for.”
“It’s the same with our customers,” adds Rikke Riise. “They return because they know the brand – and they know us.”
Milayas customers often ask for their inherited jewellery to be transformed into modern pieces. Once, a woman brought some gold earrings and bracelets from her late mother to have them melted down and made into rings for her daughters and herself. “Often, jewellery you inherit has a lot of meaning, but the design isn’t up to date,” explains Jarl Riise. “Re-melting the gold allows the story of your grandparents to live on in a new look.”
Originally, Rikke Riise’s focus wasn’t on gold but on a less expensive metal, silver. However, she quickly realised that it was too difficult to stand out in the crowded silver marketplace. She then decided to specialise in the more exclusive materials of gold, pearls, diamonds and sapphires.
One of the benefits of gold is the fact that it can be recycled, which is something the couple is very passionate about. Almost any gold can be re-melted, and even the gold Milayas gets from suppliers is mostly recycled.
“Extracting gold is a drain on resources,” explains Rikke Riise. “Recycling gold is about taking care of our planet and creating beautiful jewellery from the materials we have at hand.”
Caring for the planet is particularly important for Milayas, as Rikke Riise has a great love of nature. “In my work, I’m inspired by both the shapes and the colours of nature,” she says. “No two leaves or raindrops are identical. In the same way, you can’t find two identical pieces among my jewellery.”
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