Seaweed jewellery is the ultimate sustainable gift

A young Edinburgh designer has come up with the ultimate in sustainable and renewable jewellery – creating a collection made from Scottish seaweed.

Iona Turner (22), who is also a surf instructor, is one of 10 highly talented silversmiths and jewellers from across Scotland whose innovative work has been selected by the Scottish Goldsmiths Trust and Lyon & Turnbull for the online Elements 2021 Graduate Showcase exhibition.

Her pieces include necklaces, neckpieces, brooches and earrings fashioned from the ‘bladders’ of storm-cast knotted-wrack seaweed, which dries in many shapes and colours depending on the time of year and where it comes from.

Iona explained: ‘I like to go foraging for seaweed as a food source to dry and eat. And I’m also very interested in the idea of using materials in my design work that are sustainable and renewable, so I decided to experiment a bit.

‘The seaweed preserves really well, has a wonderful texture and is very strong when it’s dried. I found it works really well for jewellery, it’s beautiful and very distinctive.

‘And in terms of sourcing the material – it takes no land to grow, I only used what’s washed up so nothing is killed and I collect it myself so there’s no long supply chain.’

Iona Turner

Iona, who is a graduate of The Glasgow School of Art (GSA), has already had some of her seaweed jewellery shown in the Netherlands.

She works in a variety of materials including recycled brass, gold and silver and also crafts pieces from fallen branches collected in coastal woodland.

Glasgow-based Scott Smith (23), another of the graduates selected for the showcase, is now an Artist in Residence at GSA where he completed his jewellery and silversmithing degree and is building his own business.

Scott has a strong sense of his Scottish heritage and is influenced by the approaches, materials and ideas of the country’s traditional craft makers.

He especially enjoys working on larger silver pieces like quaichs, spoons and other table pieces.

Scott said: ‘I love the idea of pieces that people will actually engage with – have out on the table or use for celebratory meals rather than just locked away in a cabinet. I also like my pieces to work outside as well as inside – so to be used round a campfire as readily as in a dining room.’

Like the others in the exhibition, Scott believes that being selected for the showcase will help raise awareness of his work.

Scott Smith

He said: ‘Being selected for this feels like a real acknowledgement of my work. Having the exposure that being part of the annual Elements Festival brings – among established makers and potential clients – is just great. It gets your name out there and puts you in front of a far wider audience.”

The quality of Scott’s work is already attracting attention – last year he won the Gold Award and The Gosset Champagne Award for a champagne flute design. This year he took silver and The Gosset Champagne Award for a bottle stopper design. He was invited to the 2021 Goldsmiths Fair to host a wine tasting and discuss the synergy between artisinial champagne making and contemporary craft and design.

The 2021 Graduate Showcase is part of the annual Elements Festival, Scotland’s biggest celebration of jewellery, gold and silver – and is online until the end of November.

Ebba Goring, chief executive of festival partners the Scottish Goldsmiths Trust, said: ‘This year’s Graduate Showcase really shows what an abundance of talent and innovation we have among Scotland’s emerging makers and designers.

‘The pandemic has made it tougher than ever for them to make the transition from students to professional craft makers and we very much hope that this exhibition will help by shining a light on some of these exceptional makers.

Some of Scott Smith’s creations

‘Their inspirations range from Ancient Greek deities to archaeology and oceanography and many are making work that responds to themes of sustainability, climate change and reducing consumption. We encourage people to take time to explore the showcase and show their support for these incredible new jewellers and silversmiths.’

The other graduates whose work can be seen in the showcase are:

Scarlett Bunce – Edinburgh College of Art; Amber Doughty – Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee; Monica Findlay – GSA; Lindsay Mahood – City of Glasgow College; Alexis Mitchell-Taylor – GSA; Iris Qu – Edinburgh College of Art; Mingyu Shan – Edinburgh College of Art; and Sally Shepherd – GSA.

Elements is a partnership project with Lyon and Turnbull auctioneers. See