The magic happens in a seaside studio on the border of Devon and Cornwall on the southwest coast of England. There, like a princess in a fairy tale, embroidery artist Emily Gore reimagines antique jewelry boxes as miniature works of art using her signature medium, refurbishing their nooks and crannies with gorgeous fabrics and then adding personalized images and messages stitched in colorful thread.
I can’t remember if it was the Instagram algorithm that surfaced Gore’s company, Woodbury & Co., and its gorgeous feed, but when I started following her I remember thinking, Oh, these would be so pretty in a jeweler’s case, or could be the most deluxe custom engagement ring presentation, a thumb-stopping photo prop, or even part of a capsule with a like-minded designer. Then—bam!—up popped a collaboration featuring a trio of rings with the London-based designer Flora Bhattachary (JCK’s Brittany Siminitz covered it about a month ago).
Meanwhile, I’m still thinking about the boxes.
When I reached out to Gore, our discussion immediately turned to her collaboration with Flora Bhattachary and how they selected the fabric. “We knew the fabric selection would be key to tie the whole design together and we looked into many options, but nothing felt quite right until we found the beautiful ‘My Little Star’ Liberty fabric,” she says. “This was a limited-edition fabric that was sold out, and we managed to source a small amount in Japan. This fabric really led the embroidery designs for the boxes, with hand-embroidered celestial designs embellishing each box.”
The collaboration was not unlike the way Gore approaches the bespoke pieces she creates for her other clients, many of whom are looking to mark a special occasion such as an anniversary, marriage proposal, or milestone birthday. The boxes’ multiple compartments increase the opportunities for personalization, with each section embellished with sentimental motifs, initials, a wedding date, children’s names, and more.
How did Gore land on jewelry box refurbishment and embroidery as her particular métier?
“My interest in antique boxes started as a child, when my grandfather gave me a very old coromandel box along with tales of it traveling the world with a Cornish mining engineer and later with a Cornish artist,” she says. “I trained in jewelry and silversmithing at Edinburgh College of Art, where I developed a passion for design and traditional hand-production techniques. After establishing a successful career in the luxury jewelry industry in London, I worked closely with clients to create exceptional jewelry pieces. A subject that kept coming up was their difficulty in finding a jewelry box to match their special jewelry pieces. So Woodbury has become a way to combine my passions and create luxury antique jewelry boxes as personal as your own jewelry collection.”
And sourcing the boxes is half the fun. There are petite leather-clad cases to grand, glossy cherrywood chests, which used to be the ultimate fifth-anniversary gift.
“I source the antique boxes all over the U.K. from specialist antiques dealers and I absolutely love discovering hidden gems!” says Gore. “No box is the same, and I love discovering old photos and letters left in the boxes from their previous owners—every box has a story to tell or a hidden drawer to discover.”
With Mother’s Day, graduations, and even Father’s Day approaching on the calendar, now might be a good time to commission a project with Gore on behalf of one or a few of your top clients. Or go rummaging through your vault or a relative’s attic to see what treasure boxes turn up and then ship them off to England for the Woodbury & Co. treatment.
Top: Bespoke birthday box decorated in liberty fabric, price on request; Woodbury & Co.
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