Sophia Armstrong is the woman behind Noon Jewellery, a line of locally made and eternally elegant, yet slightly quirky adornments for your body.
In addition to Noon and other custom jewellery projects, Armstrong recently began sharing her knowledge of the craft by offering a DIY Ring Carving Kit and regularly opening up her studio for intimate, hands-on classes. (Registration for November classes can be done here.) Before you get carving, though, get to know more about the talented creator below…
First of all, what’s the story behind Noon Jewellery? How did it begin, and why did you choose to call it Noon?
The story behind Noon! I love this one. Noon was something I started way back (nearly 10 years ago) when I was at jewellery school. For me, school was overwhelming, and I felt inundated with information. Learning about the masters of the craft, I never really felt connected to the classical jewellery style or how things were done. Part of the reason I decided to make jewellery in the first place was because I wanted to make wearable objects for myself and for my friends – things that I had not seen before. So that’s kind of how it began… I chose the name Noon, because I would often leave class on lunch hour and never return. I was not the best student to say the least, and really enjoyed the magical moments I had at my studio while everyone else was busy working or in class – the afternoon was like my secret escape time.
Besides Noon, you now also offer ring carving workshops and kits… What inspired you to teach?
I do! When the pandemic hit, I actually had a dream about getting people busy and making jewellery at home. So, very much on the fly, I put together a ring carving kit and posted it to my website. The kit sold out right away, which was a totally unexpected response, and I am so happy I did that because not only did it keep me very busy, it connected me to so many new people… in a time when things felt to say the least very bleak. As things started to loosen up and we were able to see one another in person, I decided to offer workshops out of my studio. I personally never planned to teach, but it just kind of happened and I am so happy that it did.
What have you personally learned from the experience?
I am still so new to teaching, and am learning with each workshop I teach. However, something that always comes back to me and resonates deeply is that the beginner’s mind is so playful and endless. I try to remember that when I sit down at my bench, to keep a beginner’s mind and play like my students often do.
Silver and pearls are central to your current collection. What in particular appeals to you about these things in particular? What limitations have you encountered and/or pushed by working with these materials?
I have always been drawn to pearls. I started working with them when I was in school because I was fascinated with them being so perfectly and naturally round. I also enjoyed using them in a more juxtaposed way than what you would normally imagine for a pearl. Think a tiny pearl placed atop an amorphous silver ring — the inspiration was very much sculpture meets wearable jewellery.
As for limitations, pearls can be tricky as they are so delicate. Therefore, if I am working on an engagement ring for a client, I would suggest a diamond or sapphire in place of a pearl for the durability those stones offer. I started working with silver mainly because it was affordable and accessible for me. I have grown to love it and find it pairs beautifully with pearls of all tones.
What is the most exciting aspect of creating jewellery?
The most exciting aspect is definitely getting to work with my incredible clients and helping bring to life something created collaboratively. It is also pretty special being able to dream something up on paper, and then being able to make it with my two hands and wear it for years to come!
What is the most challenging or frustrating part?
Challenges arise all the time in my work, as most projects I now work on are one of a kind. Each project has its own set of challenges, that I kind of have to figure out as I go… some days I get totally overwhelmed and others I take the challenges as learning opportunities.
Tell me one thing about the process that might surprise me.
Everything I make is done by hand in my studio, I even alloy my own metals (so I turn pure silver into sterling, etc). Most people do not often connect Noon to handmade, but it truly is all made in my studio by yours truly.
How does your own personal expression come through in your designs?
Oh, that’s a good one! I have actually been thinking about this a lot lately, as I start to take on more custom work. When I am collaborating on a design with a client, sometimes it can be hard to express my style in the designs, but this is something I am learning to be more assertive about. After all, I try to remind myself, if someone has sought me out for a custom piece then they likely want my personal spin on it — even if it is a very classical style.
For my silver work, which you know as Noon… well that’s all me all the time. So it pretty much just is jewellery I make for myself, or pieces I enjoy and then put out into the world.
If you could design a custom piece of jewellery for anyone, who would it be, and why?
Hmmm, the first person that comes to mind is Georgia O’Keeffe. Her work and personal style has been on my mind a lot lately, her way of dressing so delicately and uncomplicated. She also loved silver jewellery, so it would be an honour to adorn her.
What is next for you and/or Noon?
Lots! I always have one too many things on the go and I think I like it that way. I did, however, recently just leave my full time job, so I now have a lot more time to dream up and expand on Noon… which is so exciting. I’m looking forward to teaching more workshops and hosting in-person events, as well as slowly but surely working on a new collection and some additions to the brand for spring.