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Giving new life to Vintage Beauty

Here at Willow and Rust we love to champion other small sustainable businesses, we believe that more sustainable weddings has to be the way forward for the wedding industry and love supporting like minded suppliers.

Claire is the owner of Unique Hair Combs, an online eco-friendly bridal accessory and vintage jewellery business based in York. Claire designs beautiful hair combs from up-cycled vintage and antique brooches. She also offers bespoke services for brides wishing to incorporate treasured items of jewellery into their day, for example an item that belonged to a loved one that cannot be there on the day. Below Claire tells us about her unique business.

I began the business in 2016 while I was working full time as a manager at an antiques centre. I have been surrounded by many stunning pieces of jewellery over the years. Victorian and Edwardian sentimental jewellery is one of my favourite subjects, as many of these pieces convey sentiments of love though their hidden language and symbols.

A classic example is the swallow which represents enduring love and loyalty. In the Victorian era this was a popular allegory in the wake of extended travel and separation, with their sentimental association of the swallow mating for life and returning safely to their nest. Symbols like this are perfect for a wedding.

A natural development of my business has been a move further towards sustainability and how I can help ‘do my bit’ for the environment and reduce somebody else’s carbon footprint at the same time. Many couples are becoming more conscious of the environmental cost and the carbon footprint associated with their big day. I believe an antique brooch has already stood the test of time and will not create any more waste, but is also beautiful, unique, and well made. I appreciate the work and integrity which has already gone into each piece of antique jewellery. I am careful not to damage the piece I am working with, if a brooch still has it's pin, then I will wire the pin onto the comb, so that the wearer can keep it as a comb or remove it to wear it as a brooch again.

Last year I decided to change my packaging to be more environmentally friendly. My combs are posted in simple white cardboard boxes made from recycled materials, as is my outer packaging. These small changes all add up, and I continually look for new ways to make changes in the right direction.

If you're looking for beautiful, unique and sustainable accessories for your wedding day, gifts for your bridesmaids, or you would love to incorporate a special piece of jewellery into your day, then take a look at the Unique Hair Combs Etsy shop or get in touch with Claire through Instagram @uniquehaircombs or Facebook @uniquehaircombsyork and see how she can help!

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