Grey Jays Jewelry Draws From the Collision of Natural and Man-Made Objects
Lindsey Antram, Co-Founder of Grey Jays Jewelry
Grey Jays was born from the collective brain of two women with one solitary focus: to create sustainable jewelry. This focus was built around concepts like integrating natural materials from both the wild and urban domains, giving discarded objects a new life and the core belief that no two pieces should be the same, just like you. Over the past five years our brand has grown new legs. We’ve made huge strides in aggressively minimizing our waste streams and our environmental impact, and we’ve discovered that our focus should not only be about this planet we live on but the people that live on it. We married our original principles with those of social justice specifically for black, indigenous and people of color.
When we explain our brand to people we are met with the often asked question: “so you make jewelry out of trash?” No. And yes. Call it what you want but we find considerable inspiration in working with already existing materials. Our pieces are primarily composed of two elements from two categories: natural and man-made. natural materials include stones, bones, wood, fur, and teeth. Man-made materials include discarded metals, ceramics and non-recyclable plastics.
The idea to make jewelry out of found materials came about after a stint on San Jun Island in Washington. It is a truly magical place that reaps the offerings of the salish sea, both good and bad. Every day the sea brings new driftwood, shells and bones to these idyllic beaches - but it also brings plastic, glass and metal debris. We were driven to do our small part to find new purposes for these materials discarded both by nature and by man.
We understand that there are many other makers out there that regularly integrate reuse into their creative process, and more so, many of them make jewelry, just like us. We could sit here and talk about how we do it better and how you should buy our products instead of there’s and so on, but to us that’s not what it’s all about.
We work hard to make our customers happy but we respect that everyone has different tastes and may be drawn to the work of others more than ours. We don’t expect to be a brand that everyone wants but we strive to make our products available to everyone and inspire reuse in peoples’ daily lives. Here are some upcoming things that we’re excited about and we hope our customers will be too: investing in equipment to broaden our intake of discarded non-recyclable plastics that will ultimately become jewelry; remodeling our shop to make it more energy efficient; this January we will be doing our first “pay what you can” event for our online store and we hope to make this a regular event.
Currently, my favorite product are the slope earrings. They are a recent creation that I made whilst in a creative funk. When in these down times I like to go back to the materials that started this business: those of the san juan islands. So I pulled out a large piece of driftwood and started cutting it on my band saw. It was exciting to use this material in a way I never had before.
Our brand is built around sustainability and ethical manufacturing but here are three things we’re really focused on right now:
- Taking steps toward becoming a zero waste manufacturer and helping other businesses to do the same.
- Purchasing hardware and supplies from US based ethical suppliers.
- Changing designs regularly as to not adversely impact the domains of our natural materials through “over-harvesting”.