Ash Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry


Ash Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical Weddingby Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor

When I opened up the email from our newest sponsor Ash Hilton Jewellery, my heart quit for a second. It’s a rare thing when wedding jewelry takes my breath away, which is of course what New Zealand-based Ash Hilton‘s designs did for me. But it’s extra special when I get to meet business owners who have built their entire operation around social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and a commitment to family. And Ash Hilton Jewellery nails all three with such grace and heart, well, I just sort of stopped breathing altogether while I regained my composure.

In fact, what Ash Hilton Jewellery had to say about their business (which is sustainable in both materials and in the way they run it as a family) was so lovely, I’m going to let Ash’s partner Laurel give it to you herself. Her description of their business philosophy, which is equal parts details about their business and a love letter to Ash, is one of the most beautiful renderings of why supporting small businesses matters that I’m warning you now, parts of this made me tear up:

Ash Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical Wedding

When it comes to our business philosophy, we avoid doing things that will wreck the earth. We choose quality over discounts. We believe people deserve a fair wage no matter where they live in the world. We’re more concerned with where diamonds come from than tiny differences in clarity and color (that you’d never notice anyway). We re-use tape if it’s still sticky.

Ash has been making jewelry for ten years now and when he started, there really weren’t easy supply chains to ethically sourced metals and gemstones. He had to work really hard to find a supplier that would make one hundred percent recycled sterling silver and then hit a roadblock sourcing ethical gold, as none of the suppliers here in New Zealand could justify making special small batches just for him (apparently, no one else was asking for it). Luckily, Ash’s dad has always had a touch (a BIG touch) of gold fever and had spent some time working as part of a two-man operation collecting alluvial gold on a beach near where Ash grew up. Ash made a few trips to the beach to see the setup and to find out if there were any hidden environmental costs, and it all checked out. So, he started buying pure gold here and alloying it himself so that he could offer a source of gold that he knew firsthand was legit.

Ash Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical Wedding

These days, Ash Hilton Jewellery is a true family business. It’s just Ash, his Sister Siggy, and Me. Ash has amazing systems so that he can produce a lot of pieces, which gives me the freedom to spend a lot of time with each couple to make sure that they’re getting exactly what they want. We are really invested in community and forming relationships with the people we work with, and we are just so happy that we have found a medium that allows us to do that and supports our family.

Ash Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical Wedding

Having lived and worked with Ash for the last nine years, I finally feel a tiny bit comfortable talking about his artistic philosophy (which he will insist he doesn’t have because he’s not an artist, which is B.S. because he totally is). Ash loves simple lines, solid structures, and has a natural eye for pattern and layout. He’s really, really good at interpreting people’s ideas and making something beautiful in this collaboration. He draws a lot of inspiration from the natural and man-made structures from the tiny, windswept, and very isolated town he grew up in at the end of the road on the West Coast of the South Island. But his true art lies in his ability to make anything, from a one of a kind engagement ring that only exists in someone’s imagination, to the coolest ever robot ninja costume for his nephew’s sixth birthday (it even had a slot for a memory card).

Ash Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical Wedding

We are just so, so lucky that we have this business. Ash gets to hide out in his workshop with all his tiny tools and torches (and his brand-new calipers, which are the best thing ever in the whole, wide world apparently) and I get chat to people planning their wedding all day! And not just any people, but cool people that promise to send me beef jerky and invite me to their wedding and abide when I demand that they send me photos from their wedding. But, the best, absolute best part of our job is that it allows us to split the work and kids fifty-fifty, which is pretty amazing for two reasons: 1) It’s so awesome to hang out with your kids all day, and 2) It’s so awesome not to have to hang out with your kids all day.

Ash Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical Wedding

We want to work with APW couples because they get it. They get that weddings are WONDERFUL, but are also big parties that get swept away in champagne bubbles and wonderful stories and drifts of confetti and legend-making dance-offs. There are few durable items left behind after the big sweep, so APW couples are thoughtful enough to invest some real energy into those precious things: photographs, dresses, and the rings they’ll wear every day. They want their rings to become heirlooms that tell the story of who they were to the future generations. We’re also pretty sure that APW couples will think it’s pretty neat to be able to get to know the little family that makes their rings. Most of all, they want rings made in the most environmentally and socially responsible way possible.

We want this business to be sustainable, not just in an environmental sense, but for us as a couple and a family. The only way we can do that is by working with people that get that we’re putting our whole life into our work. We might not be as convenient or expedient as ordering from a giant online retailer, but we touch each piece, we talk about your ring over dinner and we totally remember you when you come back to get another tree etched on your ring to represent your newest baby. I think that pretty much sums up the experience APW couples are after when they’re planning their wedding and life together.

Ash Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical WeddingAsh Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical WeddingAsh Hilton: Sustainable, Ethical, Affordable Wedding Jewelry | A Practical Wedding

Ash Hilton‘s prices range from $100–$155 USD for sterling rings, and all other metals are quoted on an individual basis. They offer an incredibly affordable custom design option ($40!) in which Ash will design a custom etching based on photos you send him (like the one featured above). And on top of that, they are offering APW readers a 10% discount on all jewelry. Simply use the code APW10 on their Etsy site, or mention APW when emailing them directly.

So get out of here. There is so much more amazing work on Ash Hilton’s site and in their Flickr stream and inside your head waiting to be made.

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  • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

    LOVE. Added to wish list next to Bario-Neal and Favor pieces.

  • Laura C

    Filing away for when we get to the inevitably difficult decision about A’s ring, which I think he’d like to be a little more interesting than your standard plain man’s band, but not vulgar in the way that so many of the alternatives seem to be.

  • Jessica B

    *drool*

  • Jenny

    Love!

  • lady brett

    those are lovely.

    as is this:
    “1) It’s so awesome to hang out with your kids all day, and 2) It’s so awesome not to have to hang out with your kids all day.”

  • http://www.ronmphoto.com Ron

    These are fantastic! Clients drill me all the time about unique touches and these are great! Will definitely be sharing, thanks!

  • http://www.laughterinthelou.com Emma

    Greatness!

  • http://writemeg.com Megan

    So awesome. Loved the stories behind the jewelry, the rings themselves, the love that’s so obvious from Laurel’s words . . . yay!

  • http://asweetstart.com Maria – A Sweet Start

    Just pinned the heck out of this post. I LOVE the simplicity of these rings. The sketch and the final product is so neat to see. And the way she talks about her family is so sweet. Here’s to cool rings and re-using tape if it’s still sticky. Cheers!

  • http://www.ashhilton.com Laurel Williams

    Oh wow! Just waking up to this here in NZ, it turned out so beautifully Maddie! Thanks to all the lovely comments as well. Lady Brett, I’m glad you liked that quote, I’m thankful this morning I’m at the computer while Ash is trying to get two bed-bouncing naked kids dressed. Ha!

  • dragonzflame

    New Zealand represent!

    What a cool little company. I love it.

  • Kat

    So happy to see a NZ business on APW :)

  • Kimberley

    Yay kiwi’s! I love Ash Hiltons work. My fiance has one of his rings and Ash custom made me a tie pin for his 30th birthday present too. When we eventually sort out our wedding plans we’ll be going back to Ash for his rings.

  • Crayfish Kate

    OH MY GOD. I really don’t know what else to say, except these pieces are GORGEOUS. We already have our wedding rings purchased, but a back-up or part-time ring never hurts, right? ;-)

  • Katherine

    I’m happy with our ring choices (mine were my grandmother’s & his is one we love bought at a local independent jewelry shop), but this post makes me want to go back in time & choose a new ring…at least for my husband. I’m not sure anything would convince me to give using family heirlooms that I loved on sight. :)

  • http://perkandpearl.com Briana

    Oh, I love all of this. Yay, New Zealand! My husband and I got engaged there and hope to move there one day. This is such beautiful work (and we never did get around to the whole wedding-ring thing, so…). I don’t understand how the serene gorgeousness of a place can be translated onto a ring, but somehow they’ve done it. Blows my mind.

    What a wonderful company and gorgeous work.

  • LifeSheWrote

    This is totally awesome. Beautiful work!

  • Andi

    LOVED this post! I absolutely love that they are making something eco-friendly as well as price-friendly. It’s difficult to think about the dollars poured into weddings (although well worth it!), and I love that they offer something that is both gorgeous and not crazy expensive. And so great that it’s family owned! I definitely chose family owned businesses during my wedding planning over bigger companies.

  • http://www.anugiftcenter.com/ Wedding Jewelry Panchkula

    This is really a nice information about your collection .Must necessary to share this blog . This will help to get full knowledge and help also for ours coming future and u also.

  • DavidJennifer

    Wow! I just love his work. Ash, you doing a great thing. So beautiful bands with your designs, inspired from nature.

    xoxoxox

    unique wedding bands