Charleys Forest Silver acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this nation. We acknowledge the traditional custodians, the Walbanga people of the lands on which our farm and business is located. We pay our respects to ancestors and Elders, past and present. Charleys Forest Silver is committed to honouring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas.
Sky is an Environmental Scientist and The Beard is a Solar Scientist - and we both are committed to helping the world. It all starts locally with how we run our business and where we source our supplies.
Scrap metal (mostly in the form of jewellery) is purchased from the general public, charity shops and scrap metal dealers. It is then melted down in our little furnace, where we then form sheet and wire with our hand rolling mill.
Any scrap from this process is used again, and the cycle continues.
Manufactured Sheet and Wire
When required, we source and purchase all our fabricated metal products (sheet and wire only) from Australia's dedicated supplier, A&E Metals. Using less power with greater efficiency than traditional suppliers, and with Australia's only bright metal furnace, A&E Metals provide an excellent product. They are able to source most of their product by recycling scrap - and specify it, so we only purchase the recycled product. A&E Metal's Environmental Policy is here.
All turquoise and other gemstones used in our work is sourced from reputable stone cutters and dealers, including ourselves, and where possible we list the source. We have purchased vintage turquoise from reputable dealers in Arizona and New Mexico, which we have been able to rework. We source Hubei rough and cabochons, as well as other Chinese turquoise from a reputable seller who regularly visits the mining regions of China who has access to rough locally.
Our fossicking philosophy
When fossicking, we fossick on land, not using water, and not using any mechanical means. By hand we gently excavate for gemstones and minerals, taking care not to remove or excavate any bushrock. Any soil disturbances are repaired - so that the earth looks as it was before we fossicked. We have all the proper approvals to fossick in accordance with relevant legislation. We treat our fossicking trips more as an exploration into the beauty of the natural world - an opportunity to bushwalk, have adventure, photograph and explore new places.
External stone sources
Many of the turquoise stones have been purchased from America, often through Instagram. We like purchasing from cutters and dealers on Instagram - as we're able to see what gemshows they attend, mines they are visiting and when they are cutting certain types of rough. It allows for a level of transparency that never would have been as apparent in the past, and with so many social connections there is also enough verification that we feel confident that the gemstone, especially turquoise, is as described. We declare these sources in the product listing on the website and on Instagram.
In every aspect of silversmithing, we have looked at gentle alternatives to the often harsh chemicals used in processes. We use food or cosmetic grade natural products in pickling and flux, as well as having done away with any harsh gas issues by using a hydrogen torch. Wastewater is neutralised and disposed of safely through the chemical drop-off facility provided by our local council. Technically it isn't necessary but I see this as an appropriate precaution. It amounts to less than 10 litres a year.
We have taken huge steps to reduce the carbon footprint of our business, the farm and our household. This includes installation of solar panels, water efficiency and energy saving devices, using low impact chemicals and having digital monitoring of energy use. We also offset any net energy use with annual tree planting, efficient water use and wildlife conservation efforts.
Packaging is something we take very seriously. We have a pragmatic approach to ensuring that you receive your item in the safest condition.
Our pieces arrive to you in a uniquely engraved beautiful box. They are made of Australian Hardwood (where packaging weights allow) or Australian plantation softwood, and they are designed and constructed entirely on our farm.
The timber is sourced through our local rural supplier. The Beard makes the boxes and engraves them. They are designed so they can be reused or gifted on, and are 100% Australian Made.
Plantation timber boxes are a preferred alternative than cardboard packaging. This is because producing cardboard and paper creates a much larger carbon footprint than an equivalent package made from timber. For example:
cardboard and paper pulp process is very energy intensive
requires significant amount of water
produces a significant amount of wastewater
uses a variety of chemicals such as binders and additives - these in turn have their own manufacturing processes and transportation
The other benefit is that the box can also be re-used which is much more environmentally friendly than recycling.
We have the utmost respect for culture and heritage. Sky is inspired by art old and new, by design, by poetry and photography. We are in awe of the bush - our natural environment. We love that art is a space for all people, regardless of gender, race or any other way that people may otherwise not feel included.
Sky is an original artist who enjoys being creative and exploring the tools and skills she needs to create her art.
Respect in the industry means a lot of things. From how we run our social media accounts, to the way we conduct ourselves as artists.
Sky always lists the inspirations for a piece, and would never appropriate without permission.
We feel strongly against artists exploiting traditional artists and appropriating culturally significant (sacred) objects.
Sky's work is based on strong, unique designs and symbology, and deliberately gives prominence and space to the silver or other metals. Often the designs are based on drawings - which then incorporate personal experiences and inspirations to tell a story. But there is no formula. We've delved deep to discover our own archetypes and enjoy the element of surprise in creating - the organic conjuring - making ideas shift into something tangible.
Our work is our life, and unlike many big businesses, it is not about profits. We want our children to grow up in the world knowing that there is a better way. Our work is priced to reflect the time and money spent ensuring that:
we are paying everybody appropriately in our supply chain,
the pieces are made from the best possible quality products with a limited carbon footprint and damage to the environment
the pieces meet a high ethical standard, and
we offset any carbon produced through our tree planting and other conservation efforts on the farm
This is our philosophy and the way we conduct our business. There is still a lot of room for improving these processes and becoming completely carbon neutral.