Saturday, 30 April 2011
I love the story behind them; a wedding present from her parents, they were specially commissioned to include the oak leaf & acorn motifs from their new coat of arms - and so, along with sister's Pippa's earrings (below) they have automatically made the most incredible family heirlooms.
I think everyone should get a piece of jewellery commissioned at some point of their lives - even if it's not quite as prestigious or diamond encrusted as these are. Jewellery is just even more wonderful when it has a personal story...
Friday, 29 April 2011
Sunday, 24 April 2011
Now, I love London – I was born there, I’ve lived and worked there, and I visit often for both business and pleasure. However, it never ceases to frustrate me how London-centric the industry can be - an issue Liv Olver raised in her IJL talk last September.
I also think there’s also a preconception that the jewellery that comes out of Birmingham is either 'boring' commercial or slightly dodgy craft product, certainly nothing fashion-led or cutting edge. As a designer working in a Birmingham-based commercial manufacturing company I know how trend aware and innovative we are – but I suspect people who visit our company are actually always a little surprised when they see this.
As a city, Birmingham suffers from just not being as ‘cool’ as it’s other big city counterparts such as Liverpool and Manchester, and is often not taken seriously. A review of Birmingham’s Spring Fair Jewellery Show in Professional Jeweller remarked that “many of the designers joked about wanting to being taken back to civilisation” – which seems a pretty nonsensical quip to make about what is, after all, the second city.
To demonstrate how skewed these preconceptions are, I've illustrated this post is the work of a very cool and very talented designer working in Birmingham today - Fei Liu Fine Jewellery.
Having graduated from Birmingham Jewellery School, Fei Liu now runs a highly successful brand, designing pieces that fuse both Chinese and English aesthetics. His beautifully designed pieces have earned him high profile awards, stockists and celebrity fans - and a stand alone store in Beijing.
I’d certainly encourage a visit to Birmingham if you want to expand your jewellery horizons – can I suggest next time Brilliantly Birmingham comes to town?
Saturday, 23 April 2011
So, I was pretty surprised to read that Solange Azagury-Partridge had jumped on the bandwagon - up until I saw her collection. With not one blue sapphire in sight, her guilloche enamel range is appropriately majestic whilst still utterly Solange A-P. Gorgeous!
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
The reason I haven't yet featured her work lies in the fact that there's not actually much of her line that I personally like - and however cool I think the jeweller might be, liking the design of a piece is a pretty fundamental criteria for me! I can see that surrealist painted eyeballs, skulls and dismembered fingers have a definite place in quirky modern fashion, but they just don't speak to my own aesthetic.
So, I was interested to spot her new range (featured in Style.com's accessories edit for Fall 2011) included some work in quite a different vein. Draped chains, clusters of rings and pretty little insect motifs all feel a little more sophisticated, while still remaining playful and pleasingly 'offbeat'.
My favourite pieces are the little pin - perfect at the neck of a buttoned-up silk shirt - and the stunning gold cuff.
Saturday, 16 April 2011
While the cuffs are striking, they are not themselves a particuarly unusual product. What is exciting about this line is the range of head and hair pieces - from headbands to full-head crowns, most feeling strangely in the realm of wearable. With festival season approaching, I think it's time to forget paper flowers and look for something totally new to adorn dishevelled tent-hair this year... and these spiky, graphic pieces really would make for a different festival look...
Sunday, 10 April 2011
If you'll forgive the quality of my iPhone photographs, here's a taste of the effort, design and money that goes into displaying at Basel...
De Grisegono welcomed visitors with light-up studded walls, a filigree staircase and a back-lit waterfall, next door to Hermes' two story house flanked by rotating, light up sculptures.
The main watch hall was dominated by Rolex's sprawling stand - as big as a couple of good sized houses, complete with sweeping staircases and apparently costing in the multiple millions.
Brietling's three story boat boasted their famous blue lit fish tank filled with real tropical fish;
TechnoMarine, meanwhile, translated the diving theme with imposing carved waves forming the walls of the stand.
Most innovative use of wall space had to be the Swarovski stand. These Silver scales/sequins were actually mechanised, and moved independently in number of glittering formations such as waves, individual shimmers and concentric circles.
I'd flown out to Basel with a backdrop of rioting in London, protesters targeting symbols of wealth and luxury - but Oxford Street and the Ritz have nothing on the display of money and grandeur here.
Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Saturday, 2 April 2011
The Hall of Elements was a dream for both gemstone and vintage fiends, as between stalls glittering with the finest examples of diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones there was also a huge amount of designer vintage and antique jewellery on display.
Vintage Harry Winston, Cartier, Tiffany and Bulgari were commonplace, while one stand showed off cloisonne enamel Lalique and Fouquet, and another some incredible David Webb creations;
There's always antique jewellery on display at the other UK and Europe based shows, but Basel boasts a particuarly vast selection of quality pieces covering a number of eras and styles.
Natural High You're probably familiar with Victoire de Castellane's psychedelic designs for Dior, and at Basel there was a definite trend towards using coloured metal to achieve equal striking, mind-bending results, often in the form of large scale brooches or cuffs.
Titanium flowers in glossy neon and tropical shades (sprinkled liberally with diamonds) take the floral trend on a technicolour trip, Elizabeth Galton's orchids on acid...
Titanium jewellery could be found everywhere from the International Hall to the highest end of the fine jewellery hall, via subtle inclusions of titanium in Stephen Webster's pieces. I blogged last year about Francis Mertens' beautiful titanium pieces on Astley Clarke, which now seem tame in the face of these pieces...
Photos my own/Giovanni Ferraris and La Reina.