Jeweller Clio Saskia, who was raised in the Netherlands, has always loved the natural world.
“My dad is a sort of biomedical researcher. So I think a lot of my curiosity and process comes from that,” says Saskia.
“So anything that's unusual or weird, or an animal that I've never seen … it’s these really unique characteristics they have that I try and translate into a piece of fine jewellery that people will really treasure for a very long time.”
To create her pieces Saskia uses ancient techniques that have been around for more than 6,000 years.
“Steel tools, hot wax pens or candles, and then it's really just carving that away … All of my castings are done with the lost-wax process, you can use sand casting as well.”
With all of this done by hand, unsurprisingly, it can take a long time to complete a single piece.
“There's a lizard I've been working on for a year and a half, nearly two years so far. But then there's other pieces for clients that might only take two or three weeks.”
Ethical and traceable gemstones
One of the pillars of Clio Saskia’s brand is providing ethically-sourced materials. The gemstones in her pieces are fully traceable, and Fairtrade and the gold and other precious metals are 100% recycled.
“I do think the jewellery industry, for a long time, was very closed and quite secretive about the sourcing of materials and where gemstones come from,” says Saskia.
So in 2015, she decided to move to the Australian outback, to the Gemfields, to get a first-hand experience of ethical mining.
“It’s quite carefully regulated to so you're only allowed to go out with hand tools, pickaxes, that sort of thing and sift through the dirt that you might find,” explains Saskia. “It's the Aboriginal Council that you have to go through and you get the plot on lease … If you leave, you have to return everything exactly as you found it. You have to backfill all the holes and leave it exactly as it was before you arrived.
“Having seen it firsthand, it's not that difficult to be very ethical about how you mine. So I am incredibly passionate about that and I try and help my customers to understand that process, so they understand the value of the materials that I'm providing.”
Saskia offers bespoke designs using the sapphires she personally mined in Australia, as well as using other suppliers of completely traceable gems.
“I would never describe myself as a sustainable jeweller because I can't put back those stones and I can't put back that gold. But I can have a very clear idea of the impact that I have and the impact that I can reduce.