Owner Gemma Williams
“I’ve always enjoyed making things and felt that there was something creative missing in my life,” says Gemma Williams, from Woodley in Reading.
“Back in 2014, I was at a family barbecue and my sister-in-law had just bought a concrete clock. I thought: ‘I could have made that!’ And so the idea began.
“I enjoy the process of taking the same material that the ugliest buildings are made of and turning it into something comforting, stylish and modern. Concrete is so much more versatile than people think and I am constantly amazed at what I can make with it.”
Gemma played with the idea of setting up a business while working as an accountant and starting a family, but after having her second child in 2017, she decided to go for it and Concrete Gems was born.
“I have so many more ideas than I have time to try out,” says Gemma. “I start with an idea that goes round my head for a while before I put it down onto paper or into my design programme. Then a prototype is made using my 3D printer, which I can use to make a silicone mould. Then the concrete can be cast. I love geometric shapes and the beauty of the industrial. My favourite combination at the moment is concrete grey and copper.”
Gemma’s best-selling product is her hexagonal concrete vase, which comes in grey or cream. Also popular are the concrete letters, which come in various finishes, including marbled concrete and half-painted copper. Her marbled concrete products, such as coasters and clocks, also fare well.
“For Halloween, I make the cutest concrete pumpkins, which come in grey or peach,” she says. “During the pandemic, my concrete kits were particularly popular. At the moment, there is the choice to make your own concrete planter or set of two coasters, but I’m planning a couple of new kits to be released soon as well.”
Gemma also works with jesmonite. “It’s a hybrid product made of a mineral base and resin liquid, often called an eco-resin due to its non-toxic properties,” she says. “I really enjoy the bright colours that can be achieved.”
Gemma’s dream is to make this her full-time career. “At the moment, Concrete Gems is a small craft business that I run from my home in my spare time. I live with my husband and three children under five, so it’s a longterm goal for when my kids are all at school.
“I’ve lived in the Reading area for most of my life,” she adds. “As a family we are fans of the National Trust properties, Cliveden and the Vyne, and country parks like Dinton Pastures. We are lucky to live near Woodford Park and have been there almost every day during lockdown. There are some lovely craft shops too. The Handmade Craft Company at Holme Grange
Craft Village contains so many great handmade products, as does Artisans Handmade UK in Caversham. When we eat out, we love Cozze in Woodley and have been enjoying their takeaways during lockdown. Nibsy’s in Reading is also a firm favourite for gluten-free wares.”
As Gemma works on increasing her sales and improving her range – from coasters and trinket trays, to planters, clocks and candles – no doubt her dream of making an even bigger success of her business will come true. Find Gemma on Etsy under the shop Gems Concrete Gems and at concretegems.co.uk
‘Concrete is so much more versatile than people think’
ABOVE: Gemma was inspired by a concrete clock BELOW: Concrete homeware