Rebekah Robertson is only 18 but she’s already snagged a prestigious award for her handmade jewelry.
The Qualicum Beach resident won Best Wedding Jewelry Design-Accessories at the Professional B.C. Wedding Awards in Vancouver on November 27, and it was no fluke.
Robertson has been making jewelry since she was five. That was the year she moved from this area to Whistler with her parents. It must have been the colour and the texture of the beads that originally attracted her to the craft, she said.
“It’s hard for me to remember because it really is something that I think I’ve always done,” she said. “I don’t remember not doing it.”
By the time she was 10, Robertson was making impressive designs and would sell them to her aunt, a school teacher in this area. At that young age, Robertson was the sponsor of two children through World Vision and Christian Children’s Fund. She would receive letters from the children letting her know what the donated money had bought for the family, but one letter left Robertson aghast.
“I got a letter and (the sponsored child) said thank-you because with your money we can afford food. But she went on to say that their house didn’t have a roof or a door and I was horrified, I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
So Robertson decided she would try and sell a bunch of jewelry and send some more money to her sponsored children.
Her grandmother (local floral guru Helen Mussio) had been accepted into a juried craft fair for her flower arrangements and Robertson was given the green light to sell her jewelry alongside her grandmother’s items at the popular Whistler show. With combined sales from that show and another that Christmas, Robertson made almost $1,000. She split the money up between her sponsored children, as well as gift catalogue items from World Vision and Christian’s Children Fund, she sponsored an eye surgery for a child, and some funds went to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
Since then, Robertson has continued to design and hand craft earrings, bracelets and necklaces, always making sure to donate some proceeds to charity.
These days she only uses the very best materials she can find, she said, which includes freshwater pearls from Beijing and Shanghai, sterling silver from the United States, handmade clasps from Germany and smaller components from Canada.
She adds Swarovski crystal and vintage elements like a vintage broach or 1940s fur clip. Its these vintage items that make her work so well suited for wedding accessories, she said.
“Brides will have their grandmother’s pearls or a special piece they want to wear on the wedding day,” she said.
Such was the case when she worked with a bride this past summer. She designed a double-strand bracelet featuring the bride’s grandmother’s pearls along with a 1940s clip-on earring, which matched the beading on the bride’s gown.
“When they got down to the awards part of the show I was just excited to be there and I assumed because I hadn’t heard anything prior to the show that I wasn’t a finalist.”
Robertson’s name was announced as a finalist and while she was struggling to snap a picture with her phone she was acclaimed the winner.
“When they called my name I was completely shocked and I had to go up and make a speech,” she said.
Robertson was the youngest at the event by about 10 years, she estimated. Along with the engraved glass trophy she won she will also get coverage in B.C. Wedding magazines.
Since the awards, Robertson and her mother have opened up a store in Qualicum Beach, called Rebekah-Anne-Designs.
Robertson works with her mother Catherine to create the stunning displays and her mother also helps her manage her image, marketing and is very supportive in many ways, she said.
All the proceeds from a line of her jewelry called the Abetavu Collection, found at the store, will go to the Abetavu Children’s Home in Uganda, a safe haven for orphaned children in that country.
“I think that for me, most importantly, it’s making something that is beautiful but making it so (I) can give back and support another organization.”
Rebekah-Anne-Designs is located in Chilham Village, at #9-221 Second Ave.
For more information visit her website: www.rebekah-anne-designs.com and various social media sites including Facebook.