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Monday, 31 January 2011

Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration

Anything that promotes ethical fashion and jewellery is fantastic, so I was excited to read about the official launch of Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration, an inspired project featuring the work of 50 ethical fashion and accessories designers as realised by 30 up and coming illustrators.

Jewellers are well-represented in the book, with Andrea Peterson's illustration of Ute Decker's sculptural silver pieces taking the cover spot.


I also love Abby Wright's striking rendering of the Fifi Bijoux cuff and ring - the muted background colours making the rich gold tones of the jewellery shine;




While Oria's simple, nature-inspired pendants are appropriately styled by Emma Block in a pretty, delicately colourful piece on the brand;


Fashion illustration seems to turn the transient nature of the industry into something timeless; long after a trend has passed illustrations remain beautiful to look at and enjoy in a way photographs would not. So this medium feels perfect for supporting ethical fashion, far more sustainable and enduring that another form of promotion. Plus, the actual book has been producing ethically itself too - this must be the most guilt-free coffee table purchase going!

www.ameliasmagazine.com, www.emmablock.co.uk, www.oriajewellery.co.uk, www.utedecker.com, www.vogue.co.uk/blogs/the-green-style-blog

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Like? Try... III

Parts I & II

Actually, today’s picks constitute not so much a ‘Like/Try’ as a ‘why on earth would you ever the pick the more expensive piece?'

At £1,100, this Aurelie Bidermann necklace is undoubtedly pretty, but if I wanted a piece of this design I'd always go for the quintessential Alex Monroe feather necklace - surely the 'go to' designer for nature-inspired jewellery. Knowing the craftsmanship behind Alex Monroe pieces I'd have picked his feather anyway... never mind that at £120 it's almost a tenth of the price of the Aurelie Bidermann one.

Like... Aurelie Bidermann feather pendant, £1,100, 18ct gold dipped;


Try... Alex Monroe Feather or Peacock pendants, £120 each, 22ct gold plated sterling silver;


These beautiful pieces demonstrate quite nicely that you don't need to spend a fortune to invest in really great design. I'm working really hard this year on cultivating a jewellery wardrobe of pieces that will stand the test of time in both design and materials, and I think one of these pendants would do just that.

Pieces and Pictures www.alexmonroe.com, www.net-a-porter.com

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Zoology

I'm not usually attracted to literal animal jewellery, but recently I've found my eye caught by some pieces of that genre. My current favourites are two designers who use fine jewellery materials and sleek forms to elevate whimsical designs into really special pieces.


First choice is a new arrival to Kabiri, 'Caspita', featuring serpents and dragons in the classic immortality/eternity pose swallowing their own tails. These are just the sort of pieces I'd love to wear; with simple, smoothed-off curves the designs are charming and full of personality, but equally delicate and grown-up. They're also just so tactile, they look like they'd be comfortable to wear and play with. Last week I visited London to attend Top Drawer (disappointing) and have a look at what was new in the stores. Of the many delights in Liberty, the pieces that really caught my eye were these incredible articulated, puppet monkeys by Marc Alary - I was totally captivated by their perfect scale, finish and simple lines.

In 18ct gold and diamonds, they are witty fine jewellery, and it's the level of finish and quality that make the pieces so compelling. Unfortunately, one of the first things I thought on seeing them was that I can just see the designs being copied by the high street, watered down into mass produced costume versions. From a designer perspective that's a pretty depressing thought - I hope I'm proved wrong.

As a final note, have a little look at this sweet marketing material from Dodo, a Pomellato brand, which I picked up in Selfridges. Printed in simple red and black, each little charm is illustrated with a quirky, descriptive sentence in three languages.

The charms are a little too literal for my tastes, but I can completely support the brand's message; the Dodo is a symbol of presevation and the company supports WWF Italia and aims to raise awareness of respect for the environment.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Runway Bride

Just when you thought weddings were over for this blog, this bridal look from the Alexis Mabille Spring 2011 Haute Couture (via RDu Jour) has really caught my eye.


Specifically, I'm taken by those wonderful, shoulder-duster earrings - such a strong statement remaining elegant when paired with a bare decollete and strapless neckline. For an off runway look, I think these three-strand vintage earrings from Etsy would be perfect for a wearable flash of sparkle and movement;

Friday, 21 January 2011

Fantasy Payday - Anubis Ring

One of my favourite books when I was a child was a battered, ex-library stock copy of 'Egyptian Myths and Legends', which I devoured - the fantastical stories made even more compelling by the cast of part animal, part human gods. This might go some way to explaining how much I love this ring by Israel based designer Arosha Luigi Taglia, based upon the form of the jackal-headed Anubis;

The long sweeping curves of the ring are flattering and beautifully tactile, and demonstrate perfectly that as a designer sometimes you just have to Keep It Simple. Reducing the original inspiration to this minimalist, non-literal form has diluted none of the character - the proud, alert ears and slightly snub nose translated simply into metal.
In 18ct gold and set with a diamond, this ring is a little out of my reach at the moment. Happily, the designer also offers a silver version, which if I can get gold vermeil-ed I think will have to be my (real) payday treat!

Piece and picture from www.boticca.com/arosha

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Future Heirlooms - Sculptural

Scuptural and architectural jewellery has dominated the modern catwalk; look at Links of London's scaffold-like Flutter and Wow couture pieces, Shaun Leane's incredible work for McQueen or Katie Rowland's armour-like body pieces, dripping with chains. The trend has filtered down to commercial level in an increased market for body jewellery, such as chain-mail harnesses and shoulder epaulets, but are unlikely to prove truly lasting investments for your jewellery box. Instead, choose jewellers that are producing pieces to a scale you'll wear for life, but who's signature are exciting bold and 3d forms.


Solange Azagury-Partridge
Solange Azagury-Partridge's work is always breathtaking, and delivers a sense of impact far greater than their small scale. Her enamel covered rings in glossy, attention grabbing colour are bold and already fashion classics, but it is her skeleton pieces that steal my heart. Scaffold-like and totally beautiful, they reflect completely the trend for architectural forms in a timeless and wearable way. See also the plique-a-jour 'real fakes' range, a perfect fusion of very modern design with a very traditional - and beautiful - enamelling technique.

Hannah Martin


Hannah Martin's solid, weighty pieces are ideal for throwing on carelessly yet creating absolute impact. A careful mix of tactile curves and strong lines distinguish her collections, including carved eagle heads, tall rings and bold, chunky link chains. Her 'jewellery for men that women will steal' aesthetic is so in tune with our modern wardrobe sensibilities too, with a chunky Hannah Martin piece giving the same sartorial twist to an outfit as a tailored men's blazer or masculine brogue.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Future Heirlooms - The New Stone Age

I personally find one of the most exciting things about modern jewellery is the innovative and rule-breaking way designers are using stones, with jewellers even at the most commercial end of the market choosing custom cuts and more unusual gemstones. At designer level, it seems there's almost literally no limits to how gems are used - rough stones are as valued as glittering diamonds, stones are set at all angles and into all materials. The two designers I've picked are experimental without being 'gimmicky', producing pieces that reflect an unconventional attitude to what make a stone precious and how they are used.

Kimberly McDonald


I adore Kimberly's work, fusing the most beautiful rough stones and geodes with absolute luxury. Each piece contains stones that look as though you've picked them off the beach and tumbled them yourself, but raised to stunning heights with soft, fluid gold and studded diamonds. Diamonds and semi-precious stones are the jewellery equivalent of a high/low wardrobe style, that perfect mix of scruffy vintage tee with designer jacket. Pieces like these will never look anything but expensive, but have so much more personality and life than traditional precious-stone fine jewellery.

Jayce Wong

Jayce Wong is a trained gemologist, and has a particular passion which may well be genuinely unique in the industry. Fascinated by the natural fluorescence of gems, she creates deceptively simple cocktail and stacking rings which reveal their incredible properties when viewed under light (below). She also offers a new twist on Stephen Webster's much-copied 'crystal haze' technique, placing rutilated quartz over black chalcedony, creating a totally different look and adding depth and definition to an already intriguing stone. A chunky stone cocktail ring will never be out of fashion, and Jayce offers a thoroughly modern - and incredibly clever -take on the style.

Pictures & Pieces: www.kabiri.co.uk, www.jaycewong.com, www.adornlondon.com, www.brownsfashion.com, www.kimberlymcdonald.com

NB. The title of this blog is pinched from a Sunday Times Style article from a number of years ago (mentioned in my last blog), which featured Pippa Small, Stephen Webster and Solange Azagury-Partridge as the 'new guard' of jewellers. Incidentally, Jayce Wong's range is called A New Stone Age - I wonder if she read the same article?

Friday, 7 January 2011

Future Heirlooms - Conscience Conscious

Ethical issues have firmly established themselves as a key priority of our times, and the environmental and social impact of jewellery manufacture is becoming a growing concern within the industry. Where once the offering in ethical jewellery was slim and far from trend-led, it is now possible to invest in ethically sound jewellery that is wonderfully designed and made from gorgeous, precious materials. It's an exciting time for ethical jewellery, and the perfect time to invest in designers whose work is as covetable as it is commendable.

Pippa Small

Pippa Small was the first designer jeweller I really became inspired by, with the yellowing Sunday Times Style Magazine page still in my inspiration folder to prove it! My fascination with her work was initially for her appreciation of incredible rough and included stones – the use of which has become a huge trend in its own right. Her ranges give far more than just fashion cachet, however. Pippa is an anthropologist as much as a jeweller, fusing her two passions into collections that have a real, lasting impact on the indigenous communities she works with. Her pieces have gemological, cultural and ethical weight, representing beautifully both aesthetic and ethical values of our time.


Daisy Knights
I’ve chosen Daisy Knights as my second designer as she represents a growing ‘just do it’ attitude towards ethics in both jewellery and society. Where some people actively and explicitly live ethically others have just quietly altered the way they live, integrating more responsible practises and purchases into their everyday lives. Daisy’s brand is first and foremost about her designs, but she creates her ranges from recycled silver and ethically mined gold. She doesn’t advertise herself as an “ethical jeweller” per se, she just is. Aesthetically, her brand strives to represent the current mood for cool, quirky Britain, beloved as it is of indie fashion girls of the moment. Fun, cool and environmentally conscious? So very Twenty-Tens...

Pieces and pictures; www.astleyclarke.com, www.daisyknights.com, www.pippasmall.com

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Future Heirlooms - Twisted Florals

It seems a key element of the modern look is adding a little 'edge' to an outfit, with studs, leather and chunky hardware reinvented season after season onto shoes, bags and clothing.

In modern jewellery, this tough/pretty balance is done to timeless perfection. Beautiful jewels reveal on closer inspection darker design details - skulls, thorns, inverted stone spikes. For a truly lasting interpretation of this trend, choose pieces that offer a modern twist on a timeless theme, namely botanical and natural motifs.

Stephen Webster

Stephen Webster is well deserving of the respect he's held in by the fashion and jewellery industries alike, and to my mind is as exciting a name to own a piece by as any fashion house. My favourite SW pieces are those which fuse natural, feminine forms with his trademark darkness - see the twisting vines, sweeping thorns and black-diamond decked creatures.

Shaun Leane



Like Webster, Shaun Leane is a skilled goldsmith as well as designer, having worked at the bench for years before launching his brand. His work embodies the modern woman's varied tastes - claws one day, blossoms the next. His designs are perfectly balanced; florals have thorns, polished tusks are beautifully curvaceous.

Also look out for...

Alex Monroe's blackened silver feathers, rhodium plating, black diamonds, delicate studded details, and jewels with a sense of 'slightly evil fairytale forest'.

Pictures and pieces www.astleyclarke.com, www.stephenwebster.com, www.shaunleaneshop.com

Monday, 3 January 2011

Future Heirlooms - Modern Vintage

The first in my 'Future Heirlooms' series, covering jewellery trends and themes that I believe will make antiques of the future...

A passion for nostalgia and vintage has swept all areas of fashion and lifestyle, and the past certainly provides rich inspiration for designers. Wearing vintage and antique jewellery is a huge current trend, but if you want a piece that represents our era, as opposed to our era's love of those before it, then you want to look to designers that are doing vintage their own way...

Ana De Costa

Ana De Costa’s Art Nouveau inspiration can be seen in her pieces’ creeping tendrils, natural motifs and abundance of gorgeous detail. Yet, her work is clearly of now thanks to crisp stones, dripping chain and contemporary choice of metal and gem colour. On a less aesthetic level her work also resonates with the modern leaning towards spirituality, as opposed to religion, with her pieces having a talismanic, mystical quality.


Sho Fine Jewellery

For a contemporary take on Art Deco, Sho Fine Jewellery makes the most stunning choice, but with curvier forms, interesting stone cuts and a hint of Asian influence these pieces could never be mistaken for anything other than firmly 21st Century. Her collections are full of the most varied inspiration and styles, drawing on her own roots, experiences and travels – producing truly timeless pieces.

Also look out for...

Pendants or earrings featuring briolette drops, rose cut gemstone rings, and unusual takes on the locket or watch fob. Pieces with a hint of vintage style will reflect our current love for nostalgia without being too literal.

Pieces & Photos - www.shojewellery.com, www.kabiri.co.uk, www.retail-jeweller.com, www.ana-de-costa.com

Future Heirlooms - Introduction

Contrary to my 'spend less' resolution this year is also a promise to invest more in jewellery, buying myself pieces I love now and will wear forever - just like my 2010 favourites.

I don't, however, want classic pieces - simple diamond studs or a string of pearls that could be from any time or place. I want jewellery that is absolutely of now; pieces from the most exciting designers of my time, designs that shout '21st Century', pieces that showcase today's most innovative techniques and technology. When I buy antique jewellery I want it to be representative of the period it came from - and the same applies to modern jewels.

As in fashion, jewellery trends come and go, but there are many designers working today whose pieces are so very much of our time in their design, materials or construction and yet have a longevity transcending seasons or trends.

Over my next few posts, I will take you through some of my key themes in jewellery design which I believe will truly stand the test of time but represent perfectly the current mood in jewellery...
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