Remembering the Adventure ~ Part I : South America
(Above: Glaciers in Patagonia to the Silver Mine in Bolivia.)
From Silver Mines in Bolivia to Glaciers in Patagonia….
The question I most get asked is why did you start your own brand, quickly followed by how?
So starting 2019 I wanted to give you a little more insight into the inspirations behind the brand and the path that lead me to create ZM Jewellery.
I have never really understood why you would want a massive diamond or lots of gold jewellery which may seem funny considering I own a jewellery brand, but for me its always been about the meaning behind the jewellery you wear, not the amount or weight of the materials its made from. The enviroment also plays a big part on how I run the company.
In 2007 I began an adventure to South America that saw me venture through the silver mines of Bolivia and all the way down to the ice fields of Patagonia. I was 18 at the time and unaware of the lasting effects this trip would have on myself but also on ZM jewellery despite it not even being created for another 7 years).
It sure was an adventure…
It was when I noticed where the silver rings on my fingers came from, and began to question if the process was really ok. I also began to take on the meaning of my jewellery beyond the materials it was made from.
(Silver Mines in Potosi, Bolivia)
When we were in Bolivia we went to Potosi Silver mines. We went down the mines which where pretty unsafe and super hot (my main memory). Hot and squeezing through tiny gaps way under ground.
The miners there basically get through the seriously poor conditions by drinking very strong alcohol, chewing coca leaves and worshipping Tio — a god of the underworld who holds the power of life and death. (You can see us in the cave of worship at the top of this page in the bottom left hand photo.)
(Silas, Ellie and myself taking in the beauty after a long hike)
On this same trip we also spent alot of time hiking in Patagonia. To this day one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. The glaciers there are so incredible. It didn’t really hit home how incredible until later that year when I went to a glacier in New Zealand…In comparison it was small and dirty. It was only then, I realised how lucky I had been. In the last few years, with more and more coverage on how global warming is effecting our planet, I realise again how incredibly lucky and special my memories of Patagonia are.
Seeing these epic landscapes in Patagonia with their enormous glaciers has made me really care about protecting these wild and beautiful places. When I think of any environmental business decision I remember my time in Patagonia, and the need to preserve these places for future generations to enjoy. I look at my little nephews and nieces and hope they will get to enjoy these wild landscapes one day too.
On this trip I made some incredible friendships. I went on the trip with a good friend from England and our friendship only strengthened, we also met a boy from America. We were like the 3 musketeers. We spent 3 months solid sharing a tent and looking out for each other. We all bought a bracelet (just a tatty one made of string) on the trip which signified our bond and was an emblem to remind ourselves of our adventures together as we all went back to different parts of the world. That bond between us, 12 years later is still just as tight.
This is what I want ZM Jewellery to be about, creating products which remember and symbolise adventures, memories, people and places.
Without experiencing the difficult conditions in the silver mine, I probably to this day wouldn’t question were silver and other materials come from.
Seeing those massive ice fields in Patagonia has made me want to save them. As a company we are far from perfect, working in an industry which is difficult to navigate in finding the source of materials. However I continue to try and am making little steps everyday. You can read more about this on our sustainability page.
This was the first adventure which inspired parts of my brand, even if I didn’t actually start it until a good 7 or so years later.