Ironically, there is a growing trend going on right now to stay away from trends. Big brands are seen to be lame, sell-outs and what people seem to consider the worst; fake. Authenticity is what people are drawn to; simplicity, and being core. It seems like everyone is trying so hard to make it look like they aren’t trying. It’s hard to be truly authentic, to really hand make every product. But in Robina, just outside Queensland on the Gold Coast of Australia, Ashley and Dean Butt of Cort Jewellery are doing just that. Hand-making elegant, simple, and sturdy pieces of jewelry from their in-home workshop, which they don’t disclose the address of (no creepin'!).
Cort started out of boredom. Ashley was working for a high-end jewelry company until she had enough. “I was working for this company full time for this company for three years, it was like diamonds and pearls and everything. I was just over it,” she explained. “Then Dean suggested that I start making my own and so I quit and then started working at a cafe and started learning jewelry from my uncle.” After a little more than a year of learning from her uncle, Dean set up an Instagram account and Cort Jewellery was born. Ashley chose the name Cort from her maiden last name.
At the start, Ashley was making rings just for her friends. “I was making really gothic kind of jewelry,” she laughs, “but then Dean wanted a signet ring with a ships wheel in it. I said ‘oh yeah sure, I’ll do that’ and then all his friends loved it and the whole signet ring thing started from there.”
Dean was there for moral support at the beginning. “I was painting houses at the time, a 'tradey' we call it over here, just working on different job sites. I wasn’t really interested at the time, it was more Ashley’s thing,” he said. Once he realized that it was something that she was really going to give a solid go at, he got involved, mostly just helping out with the business side of it. “For a long time that was as far as I went, I just helped her with the emails and stuff,” he said. “Then as we kept growing and growing, I kind of got forced into helping but then I started enjoying it, you know? Because it became our thing and of course anything your wife starts, you want to help out as much as you can.”
The two of them do every step of the ring making process in their workshop. From making the wax design to casting to the cutting of the silver, the soldering, the polishing, everything is under control in their home usually, while their new baby girl Isabel is sleeping. “We usually wake up around 5 [am] and have our coffee—go pull out our work, then I spend some time with Isabel then I get into the workroom. Then Dean is with her for a bit and then puts her back to bed and the joins me,” she explains. “When she is up we kind of swap out between the workroom. Then when she is asleep we are both in there. We try to start really early so we can have the afternoons with her.”
Cort’s style and pieces of jewelry speak for themselves, that’s the thing with authentic work—it doesn’t need to be explained. “We are kind of just trying to offer something that isn’t overly out there so to say and crazy, something that doesn’t get in the way. But something that also isn’t plain and boring, kind of that happy medium,” Dean stated. “We are trying to fill that gap that’s mainly with men’s jewelry, offering that sort of accessory that was missing. You see all these clothing and surf stores that just offer costume jewelry and stuff. There is never really stuff that I would want to wear. So that’s mainly what we make, stuff that we want to wear.”
Ash and Dean take pride in their work and make it can last. “When we design a ring, it’s forever. We don’t want it to go out of style next week or month or in a year, we want people to be able to wear them for years,” Ashley tells. “People will tell us that they have had a ring for two or three years and they want to get something to pair with it and I love that, that people are still wearing it years down.”
Cort doesn’t really have a plan about where they want to go but they want to see how far they can go. “Just to keep going, that’s the goal. We love it. Starting your business, you don’t even know what is going to happen next month,” Ashley says. “But at the end of the day, I just want to make jewelry and love working from home. Dean can do the rest.”
Find 'em here: Cort Jewellery
Follow 'em here: @cortjewellery
Written by: Grady Olson