The founder of the Castens jewellery brand, Karin Castens, grew up with the sleek simplicity of “Danish Design”. Her romantic, curvy jewellery combines the user-friendliness of Danish Design with the wild imagination of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales.
How did your brand begin?
“I ‘blame’ the recession for the existence of my company! I have been creating jewellery for many years as a serious hobby after studying jewellery design at the Institute of Precious Metals, but it wasn’t until I found myself unemployed that I took the leap of faith. I didn’t want to wonder “what if?” at the end of my days, and so I opened my beautiful store in central Copenhagen and took designing and selling my jewellery up a serious notch.”
Is there anyone in particular who has heavily influenced/guided you as a designer?
“I have been taught the basic jewellery smithing techniques at an art school in the mid 90’s and here I created jewellery very heavily inspired by the designs of the French Jeweller René Lalique. But it wasn’t until I saw a small exhibition of the Danish jewellery artist Arje Griegst a few years later that I purchased my own tools and started up a small workshop in the boiler room of my building (at least it was warm in the winter).”
18kt Yellow Gold Faun Necklace - £455.00
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
“I am Danish and have grown up with the sleek simplicity of “Danish Design”. According to my teachers at university (I hold a Master’s degree in Communications and History of Arts) Danish Design is about stripping away the decorations and upgrading the functionality of the item. Rather the opposite of my romantic and curvy jewellery it might seem.”
“BUT: while I am heavily influenced by French art Nouveau, the basic DNA of my pieces is still influenced by principles of wearability, practicality and comfort. Not an easy task and sometimes I have to make amends for one over the other, but my best designs combine the user-friendliness of Danish Design with the playfulness of French Art Nouveau.”
14kt White Gold Medium Adorabella Pendant - £2,151.00
How is your jewellery made?
“With very few exceptions, our jewellery is created entirely by hand. Our one of a kind pieces are created from scratch starting with a stick of gold which is being milled, bent, soldered and filed into shape.”
“At times I cut out the piece in wax, using the cire perdue technique, which is especially suitable for very 3-dimensional designs such as the Adorabella collection.”
“Very rarely, we use computer assisted 3D design and printing techniques, which are suitable if the piece needs to be both very 3-dimensional, have tiny details and be 100% symmetrical. The Two Forever wedding set based on the solitaire Hiding Heart is a good example of this.”
Tell us about some of your most inspiring clients, or bespoke commissions. Are there any celebrities you would love to see wearing your designs?
“Once a year I create a tiara. Most are relatively small and not overly precious, but from time to time I create the real deal, for instance the convertible Adoabella tiara, made of white gold, diamonds and Tahiti pearls. I would love to see this tiara crown on a royal head at the next big wedding to be broadcasted on TV!”
14kt White Gold Adorabella Earrings - £2,710.00
Can you recall a particular moment with a client that will stay with you forever?
“A customer brought me most of her jewellery, asking me to take it apart and create ONE big bracelet for her. She had terminal cancer and wanted to wear ALL her jewellery from her beloved husband for the rest of her life.”
“She showed me a diamond ring and told me, that when she was gone, her husband would bring it for me to set it into one of my signature designs – the Dragonling. Then it was to be given to her sister in order to look after and protect her, now my customer wouldn’t be around.”
“5 months after I gave her the finished bracelet (which she loved), her husband brought me the diamond ring. I took the order, said my condolences and after he left the shop, I sat down and cried. She was such an amazing human and acted with such dignity faced with her own demise.”
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your jewellery?
“I want my customers to feel just as special as they truly are. My customers are very unique individuals, who enjoy wearing jewellery that sets them apart from “The Joneses”, hence why my jewellery, created for everyday princesses and other shameless romantics, fits the bill because it provides a little bit of fairy dust – also on a drab Tuesday morning.”
18kt Yellow Gold Rocaille Showpiece Earrings - £4,152.00
What has been the highest and lowest point of your career so far?
“I haven’t had a specific low point, but my highest point definitely has been winning a gold medal for my Two Forever design at the A’Design Award!”
If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?
“I wear the FAUN earrings every day! They are relatively simple – just a curl set with a diamond and adorned with pearl pendants. The curl is an iconic shape in my designs and so much of who and what I am, that I had a large curl permanently tattooed on my arm when I turned 40.”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? (And have you actually used it?!)
“The 80/20 rule is absolutely brilliant – or so I think to myself. However, I have yet to find a way to actually put it into practice. Somehow life just keeps on happening and at the end of the day/week/month/year I look back at a lot of good work done, but still I wonder: Did I choose the right tasks all the time? I guess most of us experience that challenge, so I don’t feel alone.”
14kt White Gold Adorable Tiara - £22,287.00
What drew you to JewelStreet?
“I have had an Etsy shop for a decade but my sales weren’t that great, simply because my pieces are too high end. So I was searching for an international platform that was interesting and exclusive enough to be a good match for my pieces. And JewelStreet fits the bill!”
What is your favourite quote?
“If you can dream it you can do it – this is literally how I started creating jewellery! I wanted a specific design which couldn’t be found in any shop. So I just set out and created it myself. Sometimes I (still) don’t know how I will technically make a design into a beautiful reality – I just have to find out and make it happen, right?”