Georgie Caldwell
Image: Georgie Caldwell

All over the world there are children who are abandoned. They live in poverty. With our own busy day-to-day lives, they are almost forgotten. In Peru they are called Los Ninos Olvidados (LNO), the ‘Forgotten Children’. LNO is built on combining the pleasure of wearing exquisite designer jewellery with the consciousness of these forgotten children.” – Georgie Caldwell, LNO Jewellery

Launched in 2015, LNO jewellery is jewellery with a purpose. Georgie Caldwell, is the 24 designer and neuroscience graduate behind LNO jewellery. Inspired by a volunteer trip to Peruvian orphanage, Maria Salmoe Ferro, Georgie returned home and could not stop thinking of the young boys she met in Peru, so she learnt how to design and make jewellery. Now she donates 20% of the purchase price from each piece directly to Maria Salmoe Ferro. We catch up with Georgie to hear more about LNO jewellery, her motivations and passions, ahead of her visit back to Maria Salmoe Ferro next month.

The Fashion Conversation: We gather LNO Jewellery was inspired by your trip to a Peruvian orphanage? Can you please tell us a bit more about how you came up with the idea of jewellery? And also about your time at the orphanage, is there any particular memory that has been imprinted on your brain forever?
Georgie Caldwell: My time at the boys orphanage was a roller-coaster of emotions. On the one hand, it was so much fun – the boys at the orphanage are all so cheeky, energetic and fun that each day was a new adventure. On the other hand, it was hugely upsetting – the closer I got to each child, the more that was revealed about each of their horrific personal stories and backgrounds. I was shocked to learn that one of the boys whom I had become particularly close to was placed in the orphanage due to having been hired out as a prostitute by his parents from a very young age. Not only have these boys experienced such hardship, but the orphanage itself really only offers a roof over their head and food on the table. When I left Peru, I left with the plan to go back to university and further my education in child psychology. But my mind kept returning to these boys. So that’s when I started to ask myself the question – how can I live in New Zealand, but continue to support these boys? There were many schemes and dreams that I had, but jewellery is the vehicle that really spoke to me most. LNO jewellery combines my two greatest passions – child welfare and design.

TFC: Why did you choose Peru? And why jewellery design?
GC: I chose to go to Peru because I wanted to learn Spanish. I was also fascinated by the rich culture there and of course, Machu Picchu! I love designing jewellery as it allows me to express my creative side. I think that being creative, in whatever way, is such an important part of life as it allows you to escape from the day-to-day, use your imagination and get inspired. I really get a kick out of seeing people wearing and enjoying my pieces.

TFC: Could you please tell us about your design philosophy and aesthetic?
GC: My design philosophy is conscious consumerism. The belief is to create beautiful jewellery that can also be a vehicle for helping make a difference in the world. It may sound very simplistic, but I find I am most inspired by nature and my surroundings. I also idolise Stella McCartney – not only is she an extremely talented designer, but I love her ethical, sustainable and charitable outlook. She is a shining example of how all business should run. LNO is a combination of both edgy and timeless pieces, but I think the overall aesthetic is simple and elegant.

TFC: Where do you source your raw materials from? Given the purpose underlying LNO, are your materials ethically/sustainably sourced?
GC: Yes, absolutely. The silver is sourced from Perth Mint in Australia. The gold is sourced both from within New Zealand and PAMP, Switzerland. All my suppliers uphold strong policies around health, safety and, of course, environmental protection.

TFC: What has been your most challenging moment so far?
GC: The launch of my first line. It was a moment where I felt so exposed. These pieces represented who I am and what I love and I found it daunting putting them out there…what if people didn’t like them?

TFC: You are heading back to Peru next month, what’s your plan?
GC: I am returning back to Maria Salmoe Ferro orphanage to liaise with the director of the orphanage and determine what the most urgent/core needs are. Using the funds raised through LNO, I will buy whatever is needed, whether it be hygiene items, healthcare items, educational resources, clothing, or beds.

TFC: What’s the future of LNO?
GC: To keep designing and keep contributing.