Curiosity, perseverance and dexterity are just a few of Ellie Mercer’s key traits. But the 26-year-old jeweler, who went from trying her hand at making a ring for herself, to crafting a friend’s wedding bands to seeing her pieces stocked on MatchesFashion, describes her own journey best. “Oh my god, am I a jewelry designer?” she asks herself when we visit her studio.
Mercer is untrained in jewelry, having studied illustration at UWE Bristol. However, her soon-realized frustrations for the course’s limitations were what got Ellie Mercer the brand started, “I got into doing anything that I could get away with that wasn’t illustration, I was doing a lot of sculpture. That was when I first started using resin.” For her final year project, the budding artist experimented with resin by placing human teeth inside her wearable work, which sparked her love for contrasting elements and conflicting mediums — a process that sticks with the designer today.
Her designs stem from hundreds of hours of trials and errors; going into jewelry making completely blind, she started by polishing rings by hand for five hours and took a short course at Central Saint Martins to help her understand the perfect metal-to-resin balance.
Today, Mercer’s jewelry is a harmonious merging of gold or silver with resin — the latter material is generally unexplored in jewelry thanks to its unpredictable, time-consuming nature. Resin simply doesn’t work on its own, a fact she learned when she designed a variety of chunky resin accessories for London designer Caitlin Price only to have them returned to her “in a thousand pieces'' after the models had worn them. So she took to YouTube to hone her craft, “98% of the stuff I’ve learned is from tutorials,” as she explains.