Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A Fantasy Party Outfit

If I had any glamorous, fashion week parties to go this month, here's what I'd be wearing...

Marlene Birger dress, Sade cuff (incredible!), Carol Kauffmann rings (those stones!).

Instead, I've just been shopping for some stylish-yet-comfortable flats to take me round the vast halls of Inhorgenta with my feet intact...

Monday, 14 February 2011

Fairtrade Gold and an Ethical Article

You can't have failed to notice that there's a buzz in the industry at the moment, and it's about far more than the retail opportunities afforded by Valentine's Day...

Today sees the official launch of a Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold Hallmark. This is an incredibly exciting move which will bring traceability and a minimum standard of environmental and human welfare to a supply chain troubled by poverty, pollution and exploitation.

(The first ever ingot of Fairtrade gold, from The Jewellery Editor)

I'll be writing more on the subject soon, but in the meantime you can read the just published article on ethical jewellery I wrote for Style With Heart, which touches on some of the issues - and solutions - surrounding jewellery production.

Article here... "Ethical Jewellery: No Longer Compromising Aesthetics for Ethics"

(Daisy Knights, Fifi Bijoux, Pippa Small)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Anubis Ring/Mixed Metal Styling

A parcel from Israel landed in my postbox this weekend - containing, of course, the silver version of the Arosha Anubis ring I'd lusted over last month.

Simultaneously bold and delicate, it stretches over a large portion of finger while remaining totally elegant - I'm so glad I ordered it.

I was considering having the ring gold plated so it would match with the majority of my other jewellery. However, I think the warmth from the citrine I had it set with makes it go pretty well already;

I used to be very particular about mixing metals, to the point that I'd even make sure the hardware on my bags and shoes also matched my jewelery. But all of a sudden I've come to love combining gold and silver pieces - there's something very casual and more interesting to the eye about a mingling of metal colours. Happily, I think my new ring fits perfectly with my usual tangle of mixed-metal wrist-wear...

(Guess watch, Links of London bangle, my own design bracelet, Shaun Leane Cherry Blossom ring and Arosha Anubis ring)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Some Honeymoon Curiosities

I was sorting out my honeymoon photos this evening, and came across some pictures from one of the museums we visited in Florence that I thought you might like to see;

These beautiful little gold and enamel creatures are formed around the natural shapes of baroque pearls, and there's just so much character to each one. My favourite has to be that gorgeous little dragon, which reminds me very much of the Caspita pieces I was lusting after a few posts ago.

(Nb. Apologies for the 'taken through the glass of a dimly lit display case' picture quality!)

As we were going through our pictures, my husband noted that there was as many 'jewellery research' photos as there were of us. I'm not sure what he expected... eyes only for him in a city so full of inspiration? Impossible!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Jewellery Show

So, this week has seen the Spring Fair come to Birmingham, bringing with it the Jewellery Show - five days of trend talks, catwalk shows and two halls of everything jewellery.

By far the most exciting section of the show was The Design Quarter featuring, amongst others, Sarah Ho, Ana De Costa, Alexander Davies and Katie Rowland. I’ve featured work from most of these designers before and I don’t want to cover old ground, so I’ll focus on what was new and exciting this year.

While I’ve always admired Katie Rowland as a designer and liked her pieces in theory I have never really considered buying or wearing her work myself. Her latest two collections, however, really appeal to my taste, and I like that she’s producing pieces a little lighter in scale and weight without losing any of her personal style. The bangles from her bible inspired ‘Lilith’ collection look so easy to stack, distinguished by a more unusual three-sided shape and perfectly balanced curves, bars and negative space. Her first fine jewellery range - 'Satori' - is simple, with subtle points of difference in the cloudy uncut diamonds set upside down and rose gold alloy. It’s just lovely, graphic but delicate and wearable.

I’ve never featured Alexander Davies’ work before, despite being totally taken with the two finger ring he designed for the Lomin Design Awards. In ‘the flesh’ his work is quite remarkable – beautiful proportions, construction and finishing combine with a very definite signature into genuinely unique pieces of fine jewellery.

I was also impressed by this rose quartz bracelet from Rachel Galley – a simple design lifted by a fluid movement and unusual details such as the chunky stone cut and the setting detail visible through the quartz.

Something I was really looking forward to was the catwalk show, but while I loved seeing the jewellery on the runway I did leave with mixed feelings about the presentation.

On one hand, seeing the jewellery worn by the models brought the pieces to life, showing how they actually look and bringing attention to specific pieces you may have overlooked on the stand.

The swinging chains of Ana De Costa’s earrings came alive with wear, and Katie Rowland’s twisted chains collar and cuff were both impactful and more easily wearable than one might have imagined. I also loved one particular bit of styling where Burkmar’s fine jewellery cuff was paired with Abigail Keefe’s costume piece. A £3000 18ct cuff layered with one made from recycled kimono silk? It looked wonderful, and demonstrated nicely how the modern high/low approach to styling can and does work perfectly with jewellery as well.

The first part of the show was dedicated to the catwalk’s sponsor, Pandora, and while I am not personally excited by their jewellery I did like how the bracelets and watches had been layered – one model had a group of leather and chain bands worn low on the wrist and then another group some inches above which were fitted to be worn higher up the forearm.

However, I was disappointed by the choice of clothing for the models, which was often distracting and really did not show off the jewellery. I understand why they didn’t just choose plain black dresses as the catwalk was intended to be trend focussed – including ‘scenes’ such as Romance, Utility and Opulence. Unfortunately, the material quality was cheap and the prints often over complicated - detracting from the jewellery, which was after all the intended star of the show.

Sarah Ho’s beautiful rose quartz pendant was utterly lost on a high, printed neckline, when it really needed a deep V neck or at least a plain background. The best section was ‘Utility’, where the naturally pared down clothing left a far blanker canvas for the jewellery to be seen, and it worked far better than the other scenes. There were also a number of swimsuit looks in which the models looked freezing – and mottled legs, plus bruises and one tattoo peeking out from the swimsuit’s rear, rather spoiled the effect of the luxurious jewels on display.

To me, simpler, classier clothing would have made the show far more successful. When there’s expensive, beautifully designed jewellery on display you do not need polyester floral dresses and acres of chilly flesh distracting from the pieces – the jewellery was well curated and styled and this could have been enough.

Photos;,,, www.rachelgalleycom

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Our Copy-Cat Culture (Or: A Small Rant)

Retail Jeweller reported last week that Katie Rowland is the process of pursuing a high street brand who has copied her designs, a situation which has become so depressingly common for independent designers and large brands alike that it rarely makes the news. In Lara Bohinc’s Vogue blog she describes her experience of having her designs stolen, and it makes for frustrating reading. To escape the law, a company only has to change a limited number of features – or even plead ignorance to the original design. While I agree wholeheartedly that UK law has to be changed to support the designer more, I also feel that responsibility lies with the consumer for supporting and creating an attitude of acceptance – even approval – of these copy-cat practices.

While I truly hope that most people wouldn’t touch fakes (the ethical issues behind the production of the pieces alone is inexcusable), the buying of high street imitations has become totally legitimised. People who love a designer’s work openly admit to looking forward to picking up high street versions, and Lara Bohinc refers to the ‘skinted/minted’ features in fashion magazines, in which near-identical, cheaper versions of a product are paraded next to the original as an acceptable alternative.
Whether you’re an independent designer or huge design house, seeing a copy of your work must be the most heartbreaking experience. Consumers are made to feel that it’s their right to be able to buy into any design, as if ‘design’ means aesthetics only, disregarding the hard work and utter passion behind the work.

It really shouldn’t be this way. I want to live in a Victorian town house with a red front door, but I can’t afford to. Instead, I search for the nicest properties that are in my price range – and it should be the same with design. Can’t stretch to a Lanvin necklace or Hannah Martin ear stud? Don’t turn to fakes, ‘replicas’ and rip-offs – accept you’ll have to admire their work from afar and then search for new, original design that you can afford. Visit university final shows, scour Etsy, discover new finds on Farfetch or Boticca.
Our British high street is often lauded for its creativity and originality, but in reality is awash with copies of other designer’s invention. Brands such as ASOS show they’re tuned in to new design by exciting collaborations with emerging and established designers, but then on the same site sell barely altered versions of designer jewellery. I know the talent that comes out of our jewellery colleges and universities, and there must be no shortage of graduate designers who could design innovative, entirely original ranges for these companies – surely that’s far more exciting?
If you truly love design, you wouldn’t want the watered down, copied version – you should want to buy into the creativity of the original designer. With beautiful and innovative design available at every price point there is no excuse for the customer not to demand originality.

Pictures - and
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