Jewellery designer Hannah Wood, 36, lives in Weardale with her husband John, their rescue cat Echo and rescue greyhound Demelza. She tells Anna Hope about her love of nature, and making jewellery with traditional hand-forged techniques.

Have you always been interested in jewellery?

Forever obsessed. One of my earliest memories was being given two antique cut-glass chandelier drops that my mum found in a junk shop - I immediately put thread on them and turned them into a pair of earrings to hang over my ears! I still have them, and they hang in the window of my studio.

How did you create your own business?

After I graduated from the University of Leeds I did a part-time course in Jewellery and Silversmithing alongside work in administrative jobs. I then worked in the studio of a contemporary jeweller in Bristol which helped me to refine my skills and see what happened behind the scenes. The rest is self-taught experimentation. I kept up with jewellery as a hobby before finally taking the plunge. It got to the point where I couldn’t not do it. I’m now in my fifth year of trading and going from strength to strength.

How would you describe your style of jewellery?

Honest, organic, pure, natural. And maybe even friendly.

How did you come to be based in Weardale?

I grew up on the North Yorkshire moors so this kind of environment feels like my home and where I’m supposed to be; being in a very rural environment suits me. Weardale is accessible, affordable, friendly and extremely beautiful, although, if I could, I’d move even further up the dale to be as remote and wild as possible!

Tell me more about your hand-made approach to jewellery making.

I’m fascinated by the most archaic jewellery-making techniques - forging, hammering, hand-filing and things like that. I have nothing against 3D printing and electroforming – I just adore picking up a hammer and whacking a sheet of gold, or sitting at my bench and using a file on the raw metal to get the shape I want. I saw a 17th century engraving of a jewellers’ workshop recently in a museum, and it hasn’t changed much at all; the tools I use now are exactly the same.

What is your favourite piece of jewellery?

I have some extremely old, delicate pieces in my collection which I adore, but they don’t mix with living in a rural environment. So, practically speaking, I’m into chunky silver and non-precious jewellery. I love things which are directly inspired by nature, or actually are nature; I have a Georgian carved sea-bean (a type of seed which floats and travels across the world in ocean currents) which was turned into a pendant perfume bottle with a silver cap a couple of hundred years ago. There is a story behind every single thing I have and sell - and I remember absolutely all of them!

What inspires you?

I’ve always been fascinated by folk traditions and symbolism, and the idea of jewellery being a talisman or amulet to the wearer, as opposed to just adornment for its own sake. But mostly I feed off my surroundings, the natural world at my doorstep, and how everything feels as the seasons change.

What does your average day consist of?

It’s very varied; I hate routine. Sometimes I hop straight onto my bench and work on a private commission, as I often have wedding rings or unusual engagement rings to make. It could be replying to customer emails, a photography session, updating the website, or parcelling up orders to take to the post office. I do every single thing in my business so I always feel like there’s so much to do. But I always take a break for an hour or two to take Demelza for a good long walk.

What is the most interesting piece of jewellery you have made?

The ring I crafted for Durham Cathedral. I made it from recycled 18ct yellow gold, set with garnets, and hand-engraved with animals from the stories of St Cuthbert, as part of their opening of the new Open Treasure Exhibition space. The inspiration for this was St Cuthbert’s coffin and garnet pectoral cross which are on display in the Cathedral. Although there was a commission brief to follow, the freedom they gave me in terms of design and material was wonderful. I was able to really get into the source material, dig deep, and produce something which I found inspiring. I love it when I’m able to be so emotionally invested in something.

Do you make a lot of bespoke wedding rings?

I love making wedding rings, I’ve lost count of how many I’ve made now. My absolute favourite thing to make is a simple, hand-carved, hammered wedding band. I often think how many options there are now for people looking for wedding bands, and the fact that they choose me to make it for them is always an absolute privilege. A wedding ring is such an important and symbolic purchase, something they’ll wear for the rest of their lives, and I’m a little part of that - it’s amazing!

What do your Make Your Own Wedding Ring workshops consist of?

The day is fun, relaxed and informal. I guide people through the process of making their own wedding rings from scratch, and we have the whole day to ourselves. I explain and demonstrate the process and provide as much help as needed, but I encourage my visitors to take control and do all the making themselves.

Where do you see your business in ten years?

I want it to remain small scale as it’s very important to me to be able to provide a very attentive and personal service to my clients. I would like to focus more on providing inspiring and rewarding experiences for people, more Make Your Own Wedding Ring workshops, and possibly even expand to host weekend experiences for those coming from further afield. I want to share my enthusiasm for the work I do and where I live with as many people as possible.