The Manchester Jeweller Championing a Zero Waste Approach to Design

Sabira Silcock, the brains behind sustainable jewellery brand Sken Studios has a fresh approach to creating her pieces in the face of today’s climate emergency.

By Emma Davidson | 10 May 2022

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The recurrent lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 no doubt unlocked the creative vaults of many furloughed folk, desperate for a break from banana bread fads and the Tiger King phenomenon. 

Sken Studios, sustainable jewellery brand designed and developed by Sabira Silcock was one of those leading the way in the COVID independent business boom – as she found inspiration in the everyday life of bringing up a new baby. 

The jewellery brand is for those with a more minimal taste, but definitely not without a sense of humour. Inspired by a breadth of emotions experienced during the early stages of parenthood – bewilderment, exhaustion and general sleepless angst – Sabira’s collections are honest and relatable, also making stunning statement pieces that are created using recycled silver.

The founder’s career started at Nottingham Trent University, where she studied a degree in decorative arts and turned her hand to pottery, textiles, wood work and jewellery design.

She then made the trip to Stockholm to study a masters degree and was working at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre just as COVID started to take hold. “After I had my little boy in 2019 I went back to the design centre where I’d been working for a few years, but when I saw COVID on the horizon I pulled out of my studio.

“The idea of Sken Studios had been brewing for a while and, as I started to see things shift at the end of February 2020, I just knew that I wanted to go ahead and start the business. Looking back it was a huge risk, but I feel very grateful that it paid off!”

Sustainability is at the forefront of everything Sken Studios stands for. Sabira only uses recycled silver in her collections and champions a zero waste approach to design, meaning that none of her product offcuts ever go to waste.

“My aim is to work towards a more circular economy with Sken,” she furthered. “I want to see how I can further work with scrap metals and repaired goods. With the scrap stuff, it’s really fun to be able to work on one off pieces – there’s real fluidity and movement when you’re just developing one exclusive design.”

Sabira’s collections are fun and playful, often reminiscent of the characters jotted down in a year 7 school planner – flowers with moody faces for example, always with an ironic, youthful innocence

Her most recent collection, aptly named ‘Sweet Tooth’ saw Sabira create jewellery that emulated her favourite childhood treats, including Flumps and Iced Gems. “I was inspired by the maximalist Marie Antoinette style cake design. I really wanted to translate this into jewellery, but knew straight away it would be tricky.

“This collection took a lot of trial and error, and ended up with me using piping bags with the jewellery wax to get the desired effect. I’ll definitely give any idea a go. If something doesn’t work, then I’ll have created a one-of-a-kind piece of jewellery for someone without anything going to waste.”

The designer also creates custom pieces of jewellery that are perfect for those looking for something with sentimental value. “I get a lot of enquiries for wedding and engagement rings and it’s always such an honour to craft those special pieces. 

“I get requests for everything including rings with fried eggs on, custom lemons and everything in between! It’s always nice getting to hear the stories behind the pieces and be trusted with the process, too.”

And if you’re looking at giving jewellery making a go yourself, Sabira offers her customers the chance to craft their very own custom signet ring or pendant at one of her workshops. Usually taking place once a month, you’ll create your very own, signature piece of jewellery with Sabira’s help and guidance.  

Since COVID, consumers’ habits have shifted to a more online focused, Instagram-influenced process. The rise of the independents that found their feet over lockdown are finding that their main roster of customers are coming from social media sites such as Instagram and TikTok – subconsciously creating hubs of consumers passionate about championing the work of local creatives. 

Sken Studios is totally worthy of all of this support, Sabira not only champions sustainability but cements it at the forefront of her business.

Sken is now seen on the hands of celebrities such as Rosie Jones and activists including Gina Martin and Anna Whitehouse – proving once again that for a business run by 2 people, Sken Studios is making waves in the future of sustainable fashion.

Sabira is hosting a Sample Sale this Thursday (12th May), which will feature unique jewellery pieces that have all been crafted using product offcuts and waste from previous collections. Signets, pendants and earrings will be on offer, and each piece is extremely rare – as there’ll only be one of each available. 

There’ll be around 18 pieces available in the zero waste collection and you can sign up to Sken Studios’ mailing list below to gain early access!


Sken Studios SAMPLE SALE

Date: Thursday 12th May
Time: 8pm (Join mailing list for early access)
Venue: Sken Studios’ Online Store

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