Tag Archive | necklace

Upcycling – waste not want not

Upcycling has been something of a fashion in some circles for a while, but what is it?  On the face of it upcycling is simply making one new item out of one or more old items, and when it comes to jewellery this opens some really exciting prospects.

Upcycled jewellery ranges from that made by salvaging older unwanted or broken items of jewellery, such as these examples from one of my current favourites The Upcycle Jewellery Company:

Upcycle Bee

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But it often goes further – some of the most interesting pieces of upcycling we have seen are when jewellery is created from items that didn’t start out as jewellery:

This makes me smile because I had one of these at school...I would definitely get more use out of it as a piece of jewellery

This makes me smile because I had one of these at school…I would definitely get more use out of it as a piece of jewellery

…and if you’ve ever wondered what to do with those old keys you have loitering you definitely need to look at the Upcycle Jewellery Co website for inspiration!

These fabulous earrings by Urban Raven, who has some really creative uses for what some might think of as junk, are made from old Israeli telephone tokens:

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We also love her use of stamps, what a great way to make a unique and personalised piece of jewellery!

 stamp ring urban raven 

As a bit of a button fiend myself I was delighted to find Button Jewellery with their delicate yet eyecatching approach to jewellery

Bright rainbow button necklace

Including a fab way to #bringbackthebrooch:

Terracotta, Orange and Mustard Button Brooch

From the maker of the above also comes Unexpected Boutique with some serious statement necklaces!

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Whilst these pieces look great they also are almost always pretty unique; even if you’re buying something from a maker who regularly makes the same or similar items they are ALWAYS going to be just a little bit different from the next piece, as is the joy of upcycling.  It’s also such a great way to remember that your junk can become something beautiful too, so maybe think on before you chuck it away!

 

We always love to hear from makers of unusual and upcycled pieces, do get in touch if you would like to feature on the blog!

 

 

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What’s in a name…

A while ago we featured a post about the history of “costume” jewellery, as promised we will now feature a few of the “names” from the costume jewellery era of the 20th century. There has been an upsurge of interest in all things Vintage in the last few years and jewellery is no exception. Much of the jewellery created during this period were of good production quality and design and have survived the test of time to become a big collectors area, they represent a slice of period life at a relatively affordable price when compared to jewels made from precious metals.

Signed jewellery are the most sort after examples of costume jewellery, as they can be researched and often dated to within a few years as a result of the marks displayed, prices depend on the name, dates, rarity, and materials used. Below we will look at just a few of the many collectable costume jewellery manufacturers.

Trifari

A highly successful and probably the best known costume jewellery designer whose pieces are still highly collectable today, they have designed jewellery that have been worn by countless high profile figures from Mamie Eisenhower to Madonna.

Gustavo Trifari was born in Naples in 1883, he trained as a goldsmith under his grandfather. He emigrated from Italy to New York and worked with his uncle making costume jewellery. In 1910 they set up Trifari & Trifari, but Gustavo went on to set up his own company Trifari in 1912.

The success of Trifari, and the reason for its collectability today, is often credited to the French designer Alfred Philippe, the company’s chief designer from 1930 until 1968. His use of invisible settings for stones, which he originally developed for Van clef and Arpels, added a level of craftsmanship and technique that had not previously been seen in costume jewellery.

Amongst Philippe’s many designs were the Trifari crown pins from the late 1930s to 1950s. The crowns were so popular that Trifari started to use a crown in its mark in about 1937. Authentic Trifari jewellery is typically marked with ‘jewels by Triafai’, ‘TKF’  (for Trifari, Krussman & Fishel) or ‘Trifari’ depending when it was made. Pieces made after 1952 bear the copyright symbol, as this is when the US government allowed jewellery designs to be protected by copyright.

Trifari Jelly Belly pins of seals, poodles, roosters, and other animal’s ‘belly’ consists of a solid Lucite ‘pearl’ with settings of sterling silver or gold plate. Jelly Belly’s are highly collectable and command a high price especially poodles – which are rare.

The company was sold to the Hallmark Corporation in 1975 and subsequently to Liz Claiborne Inc. in 2000.

Below is a Trifari brooch, with the visible mark – made after the copyright symbol was added in 1952.

 

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Lisner


Only recently have vintage Lisner pieces become appreciated and collectable, they still have relatively low prices and the company’s cheaply made plastic leaves and baubles have a beauty of their own.

For nearly 30 years after it was founded in 1904, Lisner imported and sold Elsa Schiaparelli’s Parisian jewellery in the United States. In the 1930s the company finally started selling its own designs that employed Dupont’s new coloured acrylic plastic called Lucite, as well as clear and coloured rhinestones, chrome, plated and black japanned metal. The pieces produced were not of the calibre of some other designers but they reflected the design trends led by the high-end brands.

The company used “Lisner” mark in block capitals on its own pieces for the first time in 1935. In 1938 the “Lisner” mark in script was introduced. From 1959, “Lisner” in block capitals with an elongated “L”, was used. However some dies and molds were used later so the mark is not always a reliable indicator of the date in this case. The company ended production in 1979.

Below is an example of a necklace and earrings set, the marks visible including block lettering and the copyright symbol.

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Coro & Corocraft

Coro, a partnership between Emanuel Cohn (the “Co”) and Gerald Rosenberg (the “ro”) began producing jewellery in New York in 1901 and continued through to the 1970s under the marks of Coro, Coro Craft (later Corocraft) and Vendome, amongst others. Although Vendome was the high end line, today some of the most collectable examples are Coro pieces.

The reason for much of its success was due to Adolph Katz, who became design director in 1924, and Gene Verri, who designed for Coro from 1933 until 1963.

Amongst the most collectable vintage Coro pieces today are the Coro Duettes from 1931 to the 1950s. The Duettes utilized a frame based on one designed by Cartier in 1927. Like the Cartier frame the Coro version had two openings in it, one for each pin which could be attached to the frame and worn together or separately.

Corocraft was the next step up in quality and price from Coro, under this brand they produced a line of Jelly Belly pins, that were similar to the those made by Trifari right down to the Lucite “belly”. Were Coro used metal frames Corocraft pins and bracelets were often made in sterling silver or gold plating. Vendome, was introduced in 1944 and replaced Corocraft in 1953 as the top of the Coro line.

The company ceased trading in the US in 1979, but Coro Inc. Continued production in Canada until the mid-1990s.

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Monet

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Monocraft as it began, now known as Monet, was founded by brothers Jay and Michael Chernow , in 1929 in Providence, Rhode Island. The company started making metal monograms and then Art Deco style purse adornments progressing onto making costume jewellery after the Chernows hired designer Edmond Mario Granville in 1934. Edmond had a background in fine jewellery from working at Cartier. He remained sole designer until the late 1950s and was executive designer until his death in 1969. Producing simple gold and silver-tone designs, they developed a friction ear clip which made its earrings more comfortable to wear. From 1981, Monet produced jewellery for Yves Saint Laurent. It has continued to adapt to trends and changing fashions and remains successful to the present day.

Today, Monet is particularly prized by collectors for its quality, thanks to its triple-plating. It is not unusual for Monet pieces to last for decades without showing signs of wear to the finish, and as most of the jewellery is name marked, they will continue to be collectable.

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So if you want to start buying vintage costume jewellery there are specialists shops and online stores, but I find it’s more fun having a look around markets and car boot fairs, where you can often find quality pieces at affordable prices. As with most things there are some fakes of the big names around, so beware, but if you buy what you like and at an affordable price, maybe you will end up with a fascinating piece of jewellery that could last another 60 years or more!

Through the Loupe with….Grant McSweeny

We’re really delighted to be able to bring you an interview with the brilliant and down to earth Grant McSweeny who very kindly spoke with us last year, and what with one thing or another it’s taken a while to get caught up and blogging again!

Grant is a gem setter and also makes his own jewellery, he comes from a family of gem setters so has a very good pedigree!

Tell us a bit about what you do and how you work

It all started in about 1985/86 my dad and uncle were both diamond setters and it just seemed like the natural thing to do.  Even before I left school I was always up in the workshop and would watch him work so when I left school I did a 5 year apprenticeship with my dad and that was how I found myself where I am today.  

[wow FIVE years!!!]

I started off with mundane tasks such as running errands to polishers and dealers.  I learned how to carry jewellery and gems and only then did I get to start practicing cutting, filing and using the tools.  I started out working with 9ct gold and then once I gained skills and confidence I moved onto more valuable metals.

Are there different processes depending on what you’re working with?

For some pieces it does make a difference what you’re working with, for example you would only set emeralds into softer metals, preferably yellow gold because it’s softer than white gold, because they are fragile and you try and reduce the risk of breaking the gemstone by working with the metal that will work better with the characteristics of any particular stone.  Similarly certain types of setting are better for certain stones.

[I had no idea there was any difference between yellow and white gold except for the colour!]

 

How involved do you get with the design process?

It varies, some people want an engagement ring and have no idea what they are looking for – I take them through books and put together a drawing of what I think they are after.  I also tend to send them away to look through jewellers windows so that they can get an idea of what sort of styles, shapes or colours they like.  Once they have an idea in their mind of what they like it makes it easier for me to incorporate that look into a design.

 

Unless the person has a gem they want setting I would then usually source the stones and show them to the customer before they’re set into jewellery because I think it’s more personal and you get to see what they really look like before they get set.

Do you have a favourite gemstone?

It would have to be diamond because of their natural beauty; I’ve seen some beautiful coloured stones but I just think diamonds are lovely whatever size they come in, but I had a 2.5 ct diamond recently and it was great to see because of it’s size.  I really like the fact that they’re just carbon and have been underground for years and years, then they get pulled out as a rough and suddenly after polishing you have a beautiful stone in front of you, and they look so amazing sat on someone’s finger.

I like lots of different cuts too, but my favourites are princess cut and trilliant, because you get so much light coming through them.  My favourite type of setting is a nice and simple calibre for princess cuts and squares because I like the look of it when it’s finished, you have to take your time and get it all level so that the light hits each stone as you turn it, it’s really satisfying when it’s finished.

Are there any gems you don’t like to work with?

Emeralds and fire opals are so fragile that they would probably did my least favourites!  You get taught not to break them and how to treat them but they can be difficult to work with and you have to explain to the owner the risks of working with them, fortunately it doesn’t tend to go wrong!  Tanzanite also marks very easily, so you do have to be more careful with them.

What’s your favourite piece of jewellery you ever made?

When I was working with my dad I did a suite of jewellery in emerald and diamond with tapered baguette cut and princess cut stones.  It was very art deco and the value at the time was around a quarter of a million pounds.  The centre emerald on the necklace was almost 8ct and that alone cost around £90,000!

[I am so jealous, that sounds like my idea of heaven]

It’s not just the joy of making great jewellery though I get real pleasure from seeing the person picking it up and seeing the finished item.  I made an engagement ring for a friend of a friend and when they saw it they said “wow” and when you have comments such as it looking nicer than the customer expected or once a customer burst into tears you just know they’re walking out of the door happy and that’s a great feeling.

 

Is it a long process to set a gem?

The large emerald and diamond suite I mentioned earlier took about 3 weeks, but that wasn’t working on it every day.  A straightforward six claw single stone can take as little as 10 minutes, but a pave set will take longer and depends upon the size of the stones.

In terms of time it does depend on the setting and the type of stone, so something more fragile or fiddly will take longer so they all have their own timescale really.  The process is very traditional, my workshop hasn’t changed much over the past 50 or so years and this sometime surprises people when they come to look.  I have some modern technology such as microscopes but the majority of handheld tools haven’t really changed.

How difficult was it to set up in business and do you have any tips?

I started out working with my dad which was helpful for my apprenticeship, but after that I moved out into my own business, my dad is still in the trade but does less setting now.  It is hard when you start, there are quite a few setters and getting your foot in the door with customers is hard because people have tried and tested setters that they work with and don’t want to risk giving their work to another person.  You have to keep trying to show them what you are capable of and persevere, it’s a lot of hard work and I think you just have to keep going…even up to the point where you start to irritate people so that they give you a chance!

Do you wear jewellery?

I do have a wedding ring and a bangle, I’ve noticed that more men now do go out and treat themselves, even down to cufflinks.

 

You can find out more about Grant’s work at his website http://www.mcsweeneyjewels.co.uk/our-work.php

 

If you would like to be featured on our regular “Through the Loupe” pieces do get in touch with us: adventuresthroughtheloupe@outlook.com,

Travels in Turkey

We’ve told you a bit about our travels in Morocco so now we thought we’d share some of the wonders we found on a trip to Turkey earlier this year.  I am a regular traveller to Turkey and generally play it very safe, gold is BIG in Turkey, items are purchased by the weight with very little regard to the detail or design involved.  Jewellery in Turkey is often bought as an investment, but to say simply that is to deny some of the stunning design and work that goes into some of the designs that can be found.  Here are some of my favourites:

 

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You can see the type of displays they generally have in the jewellery quarter – lots of gold and no prices!  The centrepiece of the above picture is this absolutely stunning leaf with butterfly and flower detail.  My photographs really don’t do it justice, definitely my favourite item this year.

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Traditional designs seem to have come to the fore recently, but I was surprised at the modern designs I found too this year, in particular the display below seemed to feature the best of both worlds:

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The above three pieces are all so different, the centerpiece was a stunning large gem with a traditional look and modern twist, to it’s right is this fabulous fish skeleton design, really unusual!

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To the left is this much more traditional design, but again it definitely has the look of the modern in it:

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Whilst yellow gold has been the staple of Turkish design there is a definite move over the last couple of years towards white gold.

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I adore this simple but really effective design – what you can’t see well from the picture is the stunning effect from all the diamonds making up the flowers…yes it was diamond…it was way out of my budget…
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I think this was the first time I saw any real rose gold either too, the three tactile bangles below would look fab all stacked up together!

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I am really fond of the use of traditional shapes and tessellating patterns which can be found in Turkish (and other!) jewellery, the bangles below were a fabulous example of this:

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I also found this unusual ring – I am not convinced it would be the most comfortable thing to wear but what a great look!

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Last but not least was my absolute favourite, featuring both earrings and pendant I very nearly invested a months wages in this necklace, I love the simple look but with traditional detailing, very classic.

  

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Remembrance Day – is it time to upgrade your poppy?

Ok so maybe the title doesn’t say it all, but as Remembrance Day approaches we wanted to tell you how you could support the excellent work of the Royal British Legion.  The Royal British Legion is the nation’s “custodian of remembrance” as well as doing impressive work to support existing and former members of the armed forces and their families.

Like me you may only start thinking about Remembrance Day once the poppies start appearing on your local high street or station, for a number of years now I have sought out the poppy pin badges which vary from year to year as a more permanent way of commemorating the annual events, as I find I can get away with wearing them for many months whereas my paper poppy seems to cause me nothing but trouble (I am too incompetent to manage to pin one on so they tend to loiter around buttonholes…)

It may seem a little early, but I want to give you the chance to explore what alternative ways of supporting the cause are on offer, particularly in this year, the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

Poppies have moved on a lot in recent years, and I’m not just talking pin badges and ceramic poppies at the Tower of London.  There’s an entire site dedicated to the poppy related accouterments produced in support of the Royal British Legion, from umbrellas to stationary, and (unsurprisingly since we’re talking about it on this blog!) jewellery.

The jewellery collections from the Poppy Shop span several ranges, and the variety available is immense, here are a few of our favourite items:

The real flower poppy heart range comprises a bangle, earrings and necklace made from real miniature poppies – we like these because the use of real flowers really interesting, it’s a trend that is becoming more and more popular and the variation of having a heart shaped feature on these is really nice.  It’s also a really nice way to wear the poppy, but would be suitable for the whole year round.

 

 

If you’re not such a fan of the heart they do similar designs in an oval shape on the website.

Ring

There are fabulous long drop earrings from the Falling Poppy collection,  they were created by British Royal Warrant holders, Toye, Kenning & Spencer, and at £10.49 they are an absolute bargain.  The matching necklace is under a tenner!  For a slightly more dramatic look though, we love the Poppy Cascade collection, these feature a similar design of poppy clustered with a silver poppy and an oak leaf.  Also created by Toye, Kenning and Spencer these have a longer drop (6cm) and are a real feature for any wardrobe.

 Falling necklace  Falling Earrings

For a more traditional approach to the poppy how about a Union Flag inspired poppy brooch.  You know we love a brooch and the personality in this one really shines out.

JW1091-Poppy-Collection-Union-Flag-Brooch

Finally a special mention for these First World War poppy cufflinks, because these really are an amazing piece of art.  To quote the website “they have been created from the solid brass of original artillery shell fuses found on First World War battlefields. The shells have been melted down and cast, using the traditional ‘lost wax’ method in which each and every poppy requires a wax version, into a hand sculpted poppy design.

The design is based on a 100 year old dried and flattened real poppy from Private Len Smith’s diary – Private Smith, a veteran who lived until 1974, plucked the poppy from No Man’s Land in 1915 and preserved it in his illustrated diary.”  There’s no point me trying to say anything as this speaks for itself – the ultimate form of upcycling, what a great way to Remember.  Additionally these are a beautiful, practical item which is sure to be good value for money at £79.99.

Poppy cufflinks

On the topic of cufflinks, do have a look at the fabulous spitfire cufflinks made from an actual spitfire…I kid you not, they are amazing.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post, please do remember the purpose behind Remembrance Day and bear in mind that the Poppy Shop is the official online store for the Royal British Legion, all profits go to support the charity.  Delivery charges may apply, please see the website for details.

 

 

Through the Loupe with…Genna Delaney

Regular readers will know that we like to take the opportunity every so often to get to know someone connected with the jewellery industry a little better!  This month we have the enormous pleasure of going “through the Loupe” with Genna Delaney of Genna Designs.  Genna has been super busy this year (including exhibiting every day at the Edinburgh Festival!) so we’re really pleased that this award winning designer had some time for us:

Have you found it difficult to start your own business, where did you go for help?

Setting up in business is hard work, to be a jeweller like me you need a lot of equipment so I had to write a very strong business plan so that I could get funding. I was lucky enough to get a studio space at WASPS, Meadow Mill, shortly after I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee. The cultural enterprise office were a great help with the start up of my business, as was Business Gateway. I got a loan and mentor for 3 years from PSYBT. They were also a massive help in my business.
 
[Feeling confident in the business side of the industry of one of the harder sides of being a jeweller, it’s really great to know that you got some great support from this great organisation.  You can hear Genna talking about starting up her business here]
 
Do you make your own jewellery?
 I design and make jewellery for all occasions including wedding and engagement rings, kiltpins, cufflinks. I enjoy taking on bespoke commissions and design something unique for each client. Everything is individually handmade.
 
Though I am currently experimenting with new technologies in my work using lasers and etching with my perspex collection and working with Cloud 9 to create a new 3d collection. I work from my studio at WASPS, Meadow Mill, Dundee. I love my studio.
[this is officially the first mention of kiltpins on our blog…we hope it’s not the last!]

 

Examples of Genna Designs beautiful perspex jewellery

Examples of Genna Designs beautiful perspex jewellery

You use some great stones and materials, but Perspex isn’t something we’re used to seeing in jewellery – what is it like to work with and what made you decide to try this out?
 
Perspex is a durable, lightweight and colourful material. It’s easy to file and sand and is much cheaper to use than precious metals and stones. I incorporated it into my work to add colour and to cut costs.

 

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Perspex cuff and pendant

 What are your influences?
 
Architecture, the Scottish landscape, the countryside, nature, the sea and natural rock formations.
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What’s your favourite gemstone?
 I love aquamarine and different types of quartz. I love using stones that are unusual shapes and have unique inclusions in each stone, such as dendritic quartz, rutile quartz, each piece is like a little picture, then I design around the stone and create unusual settings.
  GennaDesign-rutile quartz square ring angle
[This amazing rutile quartz ring is such a beautiful example of the raw natural beauty of the gem contrasted with the really unique setting of the ring – this piece is so beautiful and unusual it has to be one of our favourite items from Genna’s collection]
 
What are your aspirations for the future?
 
Would love to have my work in international galleries abroad, would love to gain high profile press coverage and would love a celebrity to wear my jewellery. One day I would like to have my own gallery and workshop.

Thank you so much to Genna for giving us an insight into your work – if there is anyone out there who can offer Genna some high profile press coverage we think you should jump at the opportunity before someone else gets there first!

Genna makes such a great mix of beautiful jewellery that we really hope you have enjoyed the post and will look out for her in the future, can we take the opportunity to highly recommend following up with visiting her YouTube page it’s really exciting to get a close up view of the creative process.  You can also find Genna on Pinterest, Twitter (@gennadesign) and Facebook.

 

If you are a designer, jewellery or work in any aspect of the jewellery or gemstone industry and fancy coming Through the Loupe with us please do get in touch at adventuresthroughtheloupe@outlook.com.

 

An evening in Nude….Jewellery

Sorry about the title, we just couldn’t resist!  We were lucky enough to be invited along to Nude Jewellery last month to celebrate the relaunch of this amazing boutique in the heart of Mayfair.  The store showcases the best of up and coming contemporary designers and a trip to the store is akin to visiting a gallery, there’s a real range of texture, material and style.  It’s located in a lovely leafy square and on a sunny summer afternoon it was a great part of London to be in.

 

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Naturally greeting us with cupcakes and bubbles tends to go down well (note to future friends 😉 ) but having admired Nude Jewellery from afar it was really great to meet Nikki and Clara and explore the store.

 

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What is particularly lovely about Nude is the level of knowledge they have about their jewellery and designers, it’s a really personal approach and this is clearly something that is important to the owner Nikki Galloway.  Her drive to bring new designers to the public means that there is an ecclectic mix, and her enthusiasm is contagious.

Particular highlights for us were:

Discovering the amazing design talents of Rosie May – her delicate functional designs are unique and interesting.  Miniature cogs and spokes that can be rearranged by the wearer.  These have an amazing finish and thank you to Clara for doing a fab demo for us.

 

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It was hard to choose where to look next, but this fabulous Vesper collection by Cara Tonkin caught our eye, it’s a really unusual style made up of swinging strands of silver chain oxidised in part to give a cascade of shadow.   The bracelet was amazing to try, it can be attached to a chain to convert it into a statement necklace too which is amazing.  It’s a really striking collection, very weighty and the movement from the pieces is really appealing.  They are real red carpet pieces at first glance, but they would actually set off pretty much any outfit – incredibly versatile.

 

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Having enjoyed the entries for the Nude Jewellery Graduates in the Spotlight competition I had been particularly looking forward to seeing Dovile Bertulyte’s work in the flesh, and it was well worth the wait!  They really are brilliantly designed and truly creepy, they have a surprising weight to them and I couldn’t really not try one on!

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There were so many fantastic designs we can’t possibly mention them all, a special word for the Spin collection  (below) which was stunning:

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The acrylic and lace pieces were a really unusual take on jewellery, we loved the light yet chunky effect.  We haven’t seen much in this sort of style before, they are particularly interesting as each piece is individual.

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The Crevice collection by Jessica Nam also captured our focus because it has such a contemporary look which really draws the eye into the gems.

 

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The Skyline collection pieces were mini works of art, really incredible

 

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I wish I’d taken a closer look at the Lava collection by Carina De Jager, and the Andrew O’Dell collection but my husband is grateful (for the sake of our mortgage payments) that I didn’t invest in my favourite piece…I’ve got it on my wish list

To be fair it was hard to find anything not to like about any of the jewellery in store when we visited.  As a designer herself we had a chat with Nikki and we look forward to sharing this with you in a future post!