015. Prenoa

THE ARTISAN FOUNDER
A story of honouring moments in history and crafting family heirlooms.

In a leafy corner of Stamford, England, silversmith Rebecca Addison breathes beauty into old coins and transforms them into heirloom jewellery.

It’s a lovely story of a shared passion for coins and a father-daughter team crafting a meaningful lifestyle business.

Prenoa began as a hobby, as many creative businesses do.

I was working in a bank to raise money for university and I found the monotony a little restricting.

I decided to take a night course in silversmithing, which built on my Art and Design qualifications from school. I began making small and very simple jewellery for friends and family, which then turned into a lucrative hobby whilst studying at university.

As my experience in jewellery making grew, the products I created changed, finally resting on coins as the focal point.

Today, we are team of two. I began the business alone in 2011. In 2014 I was joined by a small Bengal kitten called Cookie, who is still by my side ten years on and my constant companion (so long as there is a fluffy cushion or some sunshine nearby).

In 2019 my step father Paul (Pa) came to join me part time and he now works in the workshop with me and oversees the running of it.

honouring coins of the past and celebrating them now

The studio

Formally an office, it had dark grey walls and brown curtains when we first arrived, but it is now a haven of focus and inspiration to me.

The white walls allow the south facing light to brighten and gently shift as the day goes by; the original prints and photos on the walls remind me of the people I love and the life moments that spur me on in this business.

Looking out of the window as I work, there is a large oak tree which, through the seasons is generous in its colours and acorns. There is a family of wrens that flit through the nearby copper beech hedges and the red kites often pass over circling the air currents.

The workshop is a completely different style of haven. We work on an old oak bench, with many antique and vintage tools, chests and equipment to hand.

The workshop has salvaged items wherever possible dating back to the early 20th century. This adds to the character of our jewellery and is in keeping with our belief to honour tradition, but also our passion for restoration and conserving resources.

Our glass plates (for cleaning coins by hand) are from a 1960’s van windscreen, our press was made in the 1970’s and saved from a closing McCain’s factory; some of our coins are locked in an adapted printer’s plan chest, complete with old labels, ink splodges and graffiti.

It is possible to get completely lost in this space, working with elements like metal, fire and wood. It is a beautiful way to ground and find peace in the rhythm of gentle movement and can be reviving after days of photo editing, website updates and product planning.

Using real coins as a way to celebrate special occasions is the foundation of Prenoa.

We first began focusing on British coins to do this, but over the years have collected and learned about coins from all over the world and these increasingly feature in our designs.

My grandfather and step father all collected coins and when I was married in 2019, I inherited a large collection of coins from my husband’s side too.

The idea is that a customer can choose a coin around their story – we call it, finding your forever coin. Their coin might have a significant date, animal, monarch or value that resonates with them.

We help them personalise the design further by adding chains, charms and precious stones to create a unique piece of jewellery.

A lot of our customers find us through our 50th, 60th and 70th birthday designs and come back for a wedding, anniversary or good luck gift. Others just love coins and want to build a collection to wear with different outfits.

Coins have not only been used for thousands of years as a source of exchange and value, but serve as talismans and items of tradition. I have been told many stories of pocket money and penny sweets, to whiskey bottles full of change, card games and collecting coins with loved ones who are no longer here.

How wonderful to hold a coin in your hand, that would have been carried in a great grandparent’s pocket or purse – or maybe put a silver sixpence in your Christmas pudding which was minted the same year as a relative was born? How lovely to think the thrift plant featured on a three pence piece, was reminding people in post-war Britain to live sparingly and be ‘thrifty’.

We use coins from all over the world dating from the 1700’s to the current century.

In Britain, for hundreds of years we have seen the portrait of our monarch featured on British coins and this directly shows their era.

To extend this deep respect for monarchy, we also add commemorative marks like the Platinum Jubilee and Coronation mark to our assayed jewellery such as our bangles, so both parts of a design can be dated and explained. This extends the story and further allows us to offer a unique gift for our customers.

We embrace the heritage of these objects and bring them together with precious metals like gold and silver, to sympathetically create jewellery and accessories like cuff links or lapel pins.

We use traditional methods of soldering and the highest quality precious metals to reinvent the use of these coins into keepsakes. We keep it simple and elegant, making sure each piece is suitable to be worn and then handed down the generations as a family heirloom.

Our knowledge of these coins has expanded vastly over a short space of time and Paul and I continue to research and learn from collectors, books, podcasts and anywhere else we can drink in more facts about coins and their context.

For me, it is about connection with one another, it is about love and it is also about legacy.

I believe the light that glows from passion is infectious

Our memorable moments.

The moment I realised people loved my designs was something that sticks with me. I made two coin necklaces, sat them side by side and posted them on my Facebook page. They were nothing like the designs you see today!

I then went about my day and that evening, found 37 messages waiting in my inbox asking questions about dates, price and where to buy them. This caught me completely by delightful surprise and Prenoa really was born off the back of those 37 people and the 23 who liked my post.

As I sourced, sketched and tested in my spare time (I was also teaching secondary Art and Technology at a local school), I found a real market for this kind of jewellery with very limited competition.

In 2019, another amazing moment happened to the business. After 45 years working in engineering, my step father Paul retired and decided to become my apprentice! So when I refer to ‘we’, this is who I mean. I knew Paul would be great – it wasn’t only his love for coins, tireless work ethic and need for organisation, or his engineering background, or his decades of experience working with metal (building custom made motor bikes)– but the years of friendship, good humour and ease that exists between us that I knew was going to be so vital to expanding the business.

It is fair to say he has been a natural at silversmithing.

Prenoa as a name is split into two parts; ‘Pre’ meaning before and ‘noa’ meaning now.

Together and with a little imagination I have coined the phrase ‘being true to what has been, and what is’, or said another way, honouring coins of the past and celebrating them now.

I believe in small, consistent change, moving in a clear direction, every day; creating a solid foundation and a positive place to provide quality and value.

Every order is made with presence and care, each parcel is sent with kind thoughts of love and gratitude for all those that come into contact with it.

I hope that the entire business practices this vision, from using sustainable materials and metals, through to donating profits to causes and providing value to its customers.

Creating a new found way these coins are used for giving around the world with integrity, whilst allowing inspiration to find new people to find what we offer.

Looking ahead I hope to be able to share more of the creation process with our followers and also show my face a little more, day to day.

I love meeting people, teaching and sharing inspiring ideas with other creative souls. I believe the light that glows from passion is infectious and I hope to find a way to share this in the months and years ahead.

This year we have expanded our range of bailed coins, meaning we no longer need to drill holes in the coins. This now means our products are a much higher quality and the whole coin is preserved.

We now have a range of British, Italian, French, German and Australian coins that are finished in this way.

We have also just launched our milestone birthday collection and have more new lines coming in 2024. These are keepsakes for children and also high-end wedding apparel, which is very exciting.

With plans to introduce a separate retail avenue to the business and broaden our offerings online, we hope Prenoa will continue to grow, attracting more like-minded followers along the way.

IMAGES ©Prenoa 2024
THE ARTISAN FOUNDER
Our Founder

What a delightful, fascinating read, thank you Rebecca for sharing a look into your world of coins.

Your point about love and legacy really shines through and creating heirlooms sounds a wonderful way to celebrate your love of coins.

-Lyndsey

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