Across the world jewellery design is stretching far and wide; ten jewellers from Britain are pioneering new realms of jewellery design. With inspiration ranging from sea views to big cities they couldn’t be more varied. Gems and jewels or acrylic and nylon, these British designers are making a statement.
A woman of many talents, Caroline Broadhead is jewellery designer, choreographer, and teacher. A course leader in Jewellery and Textiles at Central Saint Martins in London, she is welcoming the next generation into the world of jewellery design. Her colourful works of the 1980s are some of her most famous. Broadhead is interested in the way materials react and respond to the human body. Tufted Necklace is an exciting exploration of form and materials with psychedelic synthetic hair implanted into a metal ring. Even in her choreography, she explores jewellery when her dancer snaps a necklace, and its pearls cascade onto the floor. From dance to jewellery to teaching, there is a genuine sense of fun and thrill in all Broadhead’s creations.
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Inspired by a mix of the natural world and ancient culture, Ryan aims to venerate nature in her art jewellery and eternalises plants in gold and vitreous enamels. Her white ball pendant is a precious dandelion clock just waiting to be blown away; her hexagonal, blue lattice brooch is a tranquil colony of coral or perhaps an exotic dahlia. Jacqueline Ryan ascertains the perfect balance between beautiful natural forms and her own unique sense of design and style. The elegance of her works will render them timeless treasures in jewellery boxes and museums for decades to come.
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With approximately 50 years of jewellery design behind him, it is no surprise that David Watkins is a household name in the jewellery world. Currently in a professional partnership with Wendy Ramshaw, they both now also take on larger sculptural work. The Orbit 1: Convergence 1 necklace is a dynamic series of intersecting acrylic pieces that comprise a perfect circle about the neck. This neck-ring style is typical of Watkins and is a concept explored in much of his recent work, but none are quite so invigorating as the high-powered Orbit collection.
A member of the prestigious Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, England, James Newman’s work has a wonderful organic yet honest quality that is almost unrivaled in British jewellery design today. His use of hammered metal rings in particular gives his work a naturalness and his frequently asymmetrical clusters of rose-cut diamonds are a magical blend of old and new jewellery tradition. It is his Bespoke Pink Tourmaline Ring that embodies his style. Rendered in red gold to enhance the green-flecked pink tourmaline, the materials are understood and perfect. No less than 22 studs hold the stone in place promising a ring that will later become an heirloom. The wonderful artistry and care in every work by Newman discloses his innate love and ability for jewellery design.
Just seven years after her graduation from University of Central England, Diana Porter won the UK Jewellery Designer of the Year Award. Several years later she runs a company specialising in bespoke wedding and engagement jewellery. Along with this Porter is also devoted to Fairtrade and Fair-Mined gold which she used in many of her designs. Some of her most stunning works are the most simple. Heaven on Earth is an eternal tribute to beauty, peace and the divine, everlasting in gold etched silver. Her works are like classical women with qualities of assertiveness and wisdom, togetherness and independence and perhaps Diana herself is reflected in these attributes.
Laila Smith trained at Manchester Metropolitan University in Crafts. Her knowledge of such a multiplicity of crafts is exhibited in the fusion of metal and textiles in her jewellery. Despite her use of fabric, Brooch has an almost crystalline aspect, with geode-like textural edges and long marble-grey veins of stitching. Like Midas, she bestows a preciousness on all she touches – a useful talent in jewellery design. Her designs have a rural feel of purity and innocence, yet they are exquisite displays of craftsmanship and beauty.
With clients such as famed architect Zaha Hadid, Ute Decker’s designs show a great awareness of contemporary art and design. Curl is one of Decker’s famed ‘Hand Sculptures’ where the wearer becomes a medium of art display. Curl is a coiled artwork that tumbles and flows in its dynamism. Another work, Articulation demonstrates a key concept of Decker’s work. The engagement of the jewellery and the wearer is vital. By a true artist’s nature, Decker encourages the viewer to wear the piece in their own way, providing multiple options for object engagement and display. Daughter of artisan winemakers, she shows such intensely proficient artistry and refinement in her jewellery creations.
Katherine Lawrie is a rising star on the horizon of British jewellery design. She is different from many of her contemporaries largely by her choice of materials. Lawrie brings high-end art to a more affordable level with her use of garnet, amethyst and moonstone. Taking over inspiration from nature, Lawrie uses roller-texturing in much of her work, a process of using natural objects to emboss metal that creates surfaces resembling leaves, fabrics and handmade paper. Her Leaf Pendant with Moonstone uses such a process to great effect. The silver evokes frosty mornings with a single dewdrop of moonstone waiting to drip to the floor. Unusually, Lawrie’s works engage with nature in their production, which perhaps lends to their beauty in natural forms.
Working from her own studio in Lille, Blandine Luce is in the perfect place to explore the urban variety of the city. She describes Lille as ‘complex and diverse, disparate and plural, both chaotic and orderly’—the perfect inspiration for her modern, architectural aesthetic. For Luce, creating jewellery is a ‘dialogue with the material’. In her Silver Rock Ring she explores the textures of crystal and polished smooth metal. The rock appears to bloom from the silver, giving it a sculptural life of its own. Blandine Luce creates extraordinary, yet wearable, statement jewellery for an urban world.
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