Updated: Apr 11
Jeweller Gemma Molland has always been creative and even as a child enjoyed making beaded bracelets for her school friends. Today she lovingly creates confidence-boosting, heart-warming raw and real crystal earrings, necklaces, and bracelets in her new studio "on the super magical ley lines" of Glastonbury and it's no surprise that her beloved home town inspires her jewellery to this day.
Gemma: "I live in Wells and have been for just over two-years now, but I was born and bred in Glastonbury and lived there until I was 19-years-old before I went to university. My studio where I make all my handmade jewellery is in Glastonbury. Ever since I was a little girl I was crafting beaded jewellery and friendship bracelets for my friends, making perfume from the petals in my garden for my grandma, and so on. Then, when I grew up, I completed a Fashion Design degree in Nottingham and then moved to London for seven-years where I worked in the fashion industry for lots of brands like Asos and Urban Outfitters. I found my freelancing career producing fashion shoots. Eventually my Somerset roots came calling and I really needed to be back in the fresh air and fields. So my now husband and I moved back about three-years ago... wow - time flies!"
Gemma's return to Somerset wasn't exactly plain sailing and she admits that initally she struggled to find her feet. Long-distance freelancing was taking its toll but her love of crafting enabled her to reset both her mind and career.
Gemma: "I thought it would be easy because its 'home' but it was far more difficult than I imagined. Getting a job was proving tricky, and a house because I was freelancing at the time, back and forth from London to Somerset - I just had to stop! I had to refocus and take some stock, and whilst I was doing this I just started getting crafty (because that is my place of calm ) and I made my first ever Geminite necklace. It is still my favourite and go-to today! From there I started on Etsy and Instagram. My friends wanted a necklace, then they wanted to buy some for their friends, and I just started to sell on Etsy predominantly and a few presents here and there. This sort of carried on for the next two years as a sideline alongside my full-time job. Then Covid hit in 2020 and I was made redundant in May, and I was fed up with companies and corporate life and never really feeling satisfied in a job so I decided it was now or never to really push Geminite and see if I can grow it and take it far! So that's where I am now and five-months in properly working on it, expanding it , marketing it, and its going well and I love it!"
From an early age Gemma was interested in design and, in her own words, is a "complete magpie" when it comes to jewellery, but it must be jewellery with heart and meaning. And, of course, it is Glastonbury that has shaped her products today.
Gemma: "I love adorning my hands in rings and I have always loved a bit of a hippy vibe with just stacks of bracelets and earrings. It's a certain aesthetic that I am really drawn to - it's casual but chic at the same time. I don't wear expensive designer jewellery or aspire to it. For me it doesn't have any soul to the product [and] it's just stamped with huge '£' sign. I like one-off pieces and more than anything I like jewellery to have meaning. But, as the saying goes, 'you can take the girl out of Glastonbury but you can't take Glastonbury out of the girl' - I have always had a few crystals but my real passion for them grew more intense when I was away in London, and then it went crazy when I moved back here. I never realised how fascinated and in tune I was with natural remedies and healing. Looking back I was always interested in essential oils and homeopathy, and what uses certain plants had and so on, and I think crystals are an extension of that. I started to research more and more. I was working with them all the time and I just became fascinated with their energy and purpose. That's one thing that I love about what I do is that I keep on learning. I don't know every crystal or necessarily every single property of tanzanite, for example! There's so much to learn and discover with crystals, and it's different for everyone, so the experience is really unique to me and my journey."
Gemma's passion for her products has seen her grow out of her spare room in Wells and recently move into a workshop in her parents' out-building in Glastonbury, where, wonderfully, they keep her topped up with mugs of tea and cheese toasties while she's busy designing and making. So where does this motivation come from, and where does Gemma find her inspiration and ideas?
Gemma: "I love sourcing and finding new crystals, and I have a good eye for product so I think I know what people will like. I just then start making and experimenting and seeing what forms. To be honest my job isn't that hard because crystals are so beautiful they do all the hard work and sell themselves! I love my chunky clear quartz wrapped in gold. My first ever Geminite that I made was a chunky clear quartz wrapped in rose gold wire and I had so many compliments. I mean clear quartz is my crystal so I think it works with me and vice versa. Energy doesn't lie. I also love quartz and hematite - I think these crystals are so unique with their tiny hematite inclusions. I also really like my new earring range. It took me a while to start doing earrings but I am really happy with them."
Sourcing crystals is the fun part for Gemma but there can be frustrating times too, primarily when it comes to sourcing the other bits she needs to make her jewellery - including the odd power tool. But triumphs and challenges are all part of being your own boss and it's something that Gemma relishes.
Gemma: "I have [had problems] sourcing jewellery findings, drills, tools, and chains. It's hard to know quality unless you are holding it. I also had a problem with the gluey resin which I used from the beginning. Suddenly the manufacturer changed an ingredient 'making it stronger' but it must have done something else because it wasn't adhering as well, so I had to redo a few faulty necklaces which is never ideal. But customers understood and it wasn't my fault; it's just something that happens. It was a problem and I had to find a solution - that's my mantra for anything! Don't get emotional over it, just realistically assess the problem and find a solution."
Gemma has high hopes for her online business, both locally and nationally, and would love to branch out into special independent shops in the future. So what is her ultimate long-term aim?
Gemma: "Great question! If I can run my own Geminite business full-time and be financially stable, enjoy running my business and have job satisfaction, then that's good enough for me… for now anyway. I believe in its potential and I believe in my product, but one step at a time. For me my jewellery is raw and natural, and the pieces are intuitive. I touched earlier on jewellery having a soul and that is what my brand is about. Crystals are a product from Mother Earth and they harness natural goodness and real qualities full of nuances and imperfections! My jewellery isn't perfectly symmetrical, or cut and polished to manufactured perfection. I embrace the crystals in their raw forms and work with their shape and colour. To me a crystal can be someone's little cheerleader when they need to find confidence, a side kick when they need a boost of energy, or a guardian angel when things get tough! There is an element of belief and faith but isn't there in everything? If my jewellery can help people, as well as give them something beautiful to treasure and wear, then I’m super happy with that!"
Gemma's passion for jewellery and her craft is obvious, but why does she love Somerset?
Gemma: "It's my home! Lovely people, amazing life style, and fresh air and green fields. It's a beautiful place to live… I am really, really lucky!"