Tag Archive | silver

The origins of the engagement ring….history or mystery?

We’ve all heard the rumour about engagement rings being worn on the third picture of the left hand because this was thought to be a direct connection to the heart; but where does the tradition really come from?  We thought with the number of engagements which traditionally take place today, Valentines day would be a great opportunity to have another look at my wedding photos a look at the history of the engagement ring:  

Wedding rings 

It is widely accepted that the concept of the engagement ring dates back to the Egyptians, around 2800BC.  As part of their burial customs they were often buried wearing rings, of a single strand of gold or silver wire on the third finger on their left hands, which was believed to be symbolic and a direction connection to the heart of the wearer. The history of the engagement ring can only be traced back reliably to ancient Rome; according to Pliny the Elder, in the 1st century AD, the groom gave the bride first a gold ring to wear during the ceremony and at special events, then an iron ring to wear at home.  The first documented use of an engagement ring goes back to Pope Nicolas I in 866 AD.  Pope Nicolas had an entirely conservative opinion on the intuition of marriage and he wrote that when a man becomes engaged to a woman, he gives her a “ring of faith”.  In these early days ‘rings’ of rushes and grasses were used as they were readily available, however over the centuries rings were made of a variety of materials. Some research shows that during the 19th century, during the Protestant Reformation a bride-to-be sometimes received a sewing thimble.  After the wedding, the man would cut off the cup of the thimble thus symbolizing that the young woman’s sewing was over and any dowry was complete.  The rim was then worn as a ring. Most researchers and historians agree that the first engagement ring, in the form we would be familiar with today, was given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria when he proposed to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. The ring was a simple yellow gold band set with thin flat slices of diamond in the shape of an “M”.  Since then, the designs and the value of the materials used have changed to reflect the times, but other aspects, such as how they are worn, have remained constant. Our tradition vision of a diamond engagement ring dates back primarily to the Victorian era, when diamond mines began producing vast quantities of stones, however, they were still perceived to be the domain of the noble and aristocratic, many still preferring to use simpler bands.   

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In 1938, the diamond cartel De Beers began a marketing campaign that would have a major impact on engagement rings even to the present day. The price of diamonds had collapsed during the Great Depression in the 1930s, and research showed that engagement rings were going out of fashion.  As part of their campaign, De Beers began to ‘educate’ the public about the 4 Cs (cut, carats, colour, and clarity).  And in 1947 the slogan “a diamond is forever” was introduced.  They wanted to persuade consumers that only a diamond set ring should be used for something as important as an engagement ring and that it would last a lifetime.  Their campaign was hugely successful, when they began only a small percent of engagement rings had diamonds – today, well, only a very small percentage do not!   We’ve ‘ahem’ suggested some of our favourites below, tell us about your engagement ring!  Please also do have a look at the Pretty Thrifty Budget Wedding blog which has some great suggestions for alternatives to the traditional diamond.

We say when it comes to engagement rings never be afraid to go for something unusual like this stunning cluster from Jewellerywebsite.co.uk, as well as bridal sets they have a great selection of unusual rings

We say when it comes to engagement rings never be afraid to go for something unusual like this stunning cluster from Jewellerywebsite.co.uk, as well as bridal sets they have a great selection of unusual rings

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Speaking of non-diamond engagement rings we’re so delighted to find this stunning collection from Pamela Dickinson with matching sculpted wedding band. If you like the look of this do check out her work as there’s a fantastic variety, and you can also find it featured in the Ringleaders collection at http://www.pyramidgallery.com/ the Pyramid Gallery in York

If anyone has a spare $56,500 I wouldn’t mind this landing under my Christmas tree either!  Tiffany is a classic for engagement rings.

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Through the Loupe with…Helen Spendlove-Hilder & From The Tail Jewellery

Our next installment of “Through the Loupe” is with the creator of From the Tail Jewellery, Helen.  From The Tail create an amazing range of Horse hair jewellery, pet fur jewellery and cremation ashes jewellery and keepsakes.  For all the animal lovers amongst us jewellery fans this is an amazing way of creating a fabulous memory of your loved one.

Tell us a little about the jewellery you design

I make bracelets using several braid techniques and also resin combined with sterling silver and gold. I tend to try and keep to fairly traditional designs, with memorial jewellery being something  that the wearer will keep rather than discard after it goes out of fashion. 

 

[I really like this idea – I’m a big believer in jewellery not being a disposable commodity!]

Is it difficult dealing with such personalised jewellery – they must mean so much to individuals do you worry about getting it wrong?

In the early days I was always a little nervous with memorial jewellery, but as time has gone on and my experience has grown I don’t tend to worry now.  I am quite meticulous when it comes to keeping details with hair/ashes etc and the word seems to have spread .

[It certainly has – you can check out some of the testimonials on the FTT website here]

I can see you started making your jewellery following the rehoming of your own horse – did you design jewellery before this or was it a completely new experience?

Completely new, I had my own photography studio previously and really was unsure where to go after it closed.   Although at first it seemed to be a completely new experience I found a lot of what I had learned in  my photography/graphic design / retail days proved very useful to bring it all together.

A  lot of my friends were laughing at the fact I had even contemplated making jewellery for a living in a fairly saturated market. However, always up for the challenge I carried on, all costume jewellery to start with then after about 7 months I started using silver after learning some basic techniques to start with.

You have to accommodate really unusual items in your jewellery, not only hair, but teeth and ashes – how do you find ways of incorporating these into your jewellery?

Learning resin resin techniques meant I could incorporate ashes, teeth , pet fur into my products, I tend to stick with basic designs here as I don’t want anything  that will go out of fashion, especially as these are so personal they need to last for a very long time.  The most unusual things this year were a chickens feather and some quills from a pet hedgehog.

[aww a hedgehog how lovely!]

You’ve recently had a baby – how are you managing your new priorities alongside your business?

So far so good, I took very little leave, working until the week before she arrived and then back after 5 weeks. Currently its work as and when and any big plans will be put off, just ticking along for now.

One thing I was adamant about was that I would not close my business after having children, I am in my late 30s now so left it quite late and concentrated on work first. Its hard work but we are getting there.

Where do you make your jewellery?

I am home based at the moment which works very well with little one. My expansion was put off due to my recent pregnancy but hopefully that will be back on track next year and I’ll be on the hunt for a workshop.

[Many congratulations, I remain unbelievably impressed that you manage to work and look after a baby]

Do you make all your jewellery yourself or do you have help?

Just me, at Christmas time I rope in help for packing and other admin jobs. Again something that I hope to change within the next year and take on my first member of staff.

What did you do before you started FTTJ?

Photographer for quite a few years, unfortunately the industry is suffering and I felt it better to get out early. However my photography skills really help with FTTJ and some of the creative skills I learned over the years have come in very handy as previously mentioned.

You make such a variety of different types of jewellery, from the fabulous horse hair loop earrings (below) through to resin – what’s your favourite type of material to work with?

I would probably say resin, although at the start it was a love hate relationship. Resin is temperamental, and can really go wrong. I remember once running out of the house with a boiling pot of resin that overheated and was trying to combust! At that point I really did feel it might not be for me.

I got some help from a skilled resin cast maker and he turned it around for me and then made it so I could expand my products using that material.

Was it difficult to start your own business and do you have any tips for aspiring jewellery entrepreneurs?

I had my own business before so this was not a new experience. I think any tips I could give would be:

Don’t ignore good advice

Keep positive

And build your own brand, I see a lot of copying going on now and its sad, If someone got there first, try your own style.

Dont let bad experiences get you down, it’s easy to worry about one bad thing out of many good . Learn from it and move on.

[Great advice – particularly agree about the copying, there are so many unique ways of producing jewellery the joy is in the individuality]

What type of jewellery do you like to wear?

I don’t wear a lot of jewellery, more so because being around animals and now a baby I cant wear dangly things lol!  However I do wear my wedding ring, I made both my husband and I our rings and mine was the first horse shoe print ring I made.

[yep I know that feeling!!!]

What’s your favourite metal – gold, silver or something else?

 Silver, always has been. It complements the braids so well. Although I do make some gold jewellery I admit to being slow on the uptake as I personally prefer the silver.

Cameos

We’ve all seen cameos (or similar) on the high street, and they’re thought of as pretty old fashioned now, but the original cameo is a real work of art so we thought you should know a bit about it!

The art of carving and engraving gemstones is called the glyphic art, a glyph being a channel or groove.  There are actually two types of ‘cameo,’ where designs are incised into the stone they are called intaglio, where the image appears in relief this is a cameo.

The earliest gemstone carving was in intaglio, and the design is carved in the negative below the flattened or domed surface of the gemstone.  This allowed the gem to be pressed into clay or sealing wax where it would leave a mirror image of the design in relief.  Engraved signet stones can be traced back to the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia and even to around 5000 BC in some parts of Asia.

 

2nd - 3rd Century Roman Gold Intaglio Ring - copyright of Trustees of the British Museum

2nd – 3rd Century Roman Gold Intaglio Ring – copyright of Trustees of the British Museum

 

In cameos the design is created by cutting away around the image and leaving the image in relief, and this type of carving did not begin until the late Hellenistic Greek period, when gemstone carving came to be appreciated for its artistic and ornamental value, rather than for the functional aspect of an intaglio seal.

Traditionally cameos feature a white figure on a dark background.  Greek cameos were often made of banded agate or sardonyx carved with the coloured layers of the stone running horizontal to the visible upper plane.  This meant that up to four levels of carving, each in a different colour, could be seen, such as in the cameo below.

 

The coloured layers are visible in this cameo carving

The coloured layers are visible in this cameo carving

 

In addition to agate or sardonyx practically all stones have been used for engraving.  Rare and expensive rubies, sapphires and emeralds have been fashioned into cameos in the past, although they are usually only small simple designs due to the hardness of these gems which make them difficult to carve.  Usually these rare and precious gems will feature in a Roman ring or occasionally in a simple 18th century gold setting.  In the late 19th century citrine and amethyst began to appear as carved gems in brooches, and then opals which are sometimes found in both rings and brooches.  Organic materials such as coral, ivory and jet became extensively used in the 18th and 19th centuries which were much cheaper and more widely available, although shell carving in jewellery has been around since the 16th century.

 

c. 1850 Diana at the hunt

c. 1850 Diana at the hunt

By the end of the 19th century the fashion for cameos had dwindled, there are 20th century cameos often set in nine carat gold or silver with marcasite highlights, more recently, in the 1930s to 1950s, glass, plastic and composite were used to produce cheaper varieties of cameo.  The lack of interest in the cameo means it is not a highly marketable piece and the modern day versions of these stunning carvings lack the charm and detail of earlier pieces, often on the mass production market.  However there are some good buys to be had both of vintage originals, and more unusual takes on the cameo idea, such at these resin brooches from the Maria Allen Boutique. and these cameo inspired rings by Hart and Bloom.

 

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Through the Loupe with…JEMS Jewellery

The next installment of our Through the Loupe series has arrived, this month we’re going through the loupe with Jem from JEMS Jewellery.

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Tell us a bit about the jewellery you design

JEMS jewellery is inspired by a few things; the moments when we reminisce, the British stereotype we have as a country, and the rituals we proudly claim as a nation. Remember when the Olympics came to London? I loved the opening ceremony where the teams march in holding an umbrella with their countries names on, fantastically stereotypically British!

British ritual: I have fond memories of my past, doing bonkers things like going to the seaside with my mum and a brolly, to stand there with some fish and chips in the rain….because we did this every August, it was never questioned. I think the coast holds a romantic notion of childhood we all love to remember, and I try and capture this in the work. My designs are clean and simple, recognisable and fun. The rule tends to be if it doesn’t make me giggle at the bench peg, it’s not a JEMS design!

How did you get into jewellery designing?

Jewellery is very important to me, I wear it every day, I never take it off; it is my identity. I have a spider necklace named Boris that I have worn for over 10 years, he is my lucky spider.  [Ok as a spider hater this is something we have to see – we’ll be in touch to discuss this….]

Designing jewellery: I can trace it right back to my school days, when I left high school I was offered a ‘Summer School Experience’ by Bradford University. It was a week of doing all sorts of topics, from bone studies to class blowing. I enjoyed two classes the most, Glass blowing and jewellery making. The jewellery making was simply twisting silver plated wire around a metal bracelet frame and putting beads on it, but I loved every moment.

I can trace a love of jewellery even further back, when I was a toddler I wore plastic silver toy jewellery. I find it amazing that I was loving my silver even as a small child.

 

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Officially the cutest picture we have featured on this blog to date!

 

Do you make your own jewellery, or do you have help?

I mostly make all of my own at my workshop, however I outsource to other business local and national. These business have the skills and machinery I do not own such as mould making, lost wax casting and metal spinning. It is good to support other business, I believe heavily in business karma.

[As do we!!  That’s a great use of resources, such a good idea because it must give you the flexibility to access methods and tools that you just couldn’t manage otherwise.]

What are your influences?

This is a hard one, you may as well ask what doesn’t influence me! I am a bit of a sponge, I soak things up wherever I go.  The farm outside my window seems to be a big influence at the mo. I love Yorkshire Sculpture Park, I often go there to sketch. I was once inspired greatly by the Falkirk Boat Bridge, it is beautiful. I spent a day there just ogling the mechanisms in awe. I like to look at machinery and how they work, robots and gadgets. Music and fashion are quite amazing two, and go together like peas in a pod.

What’s your favourite piece of your own jewellery?

It will have to be the Memory Vessel. This piece has been growing with me since my final year at university. I have developed, redesigned and packaged it and I am sure it’s such a unique product, I have just had it engraved and now it looks the bee’s knees. I am sure it will make me famous one day.

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[We really love this too – for those of you who don’t know it is more than a locket could ever be, it’s your very own mini time capsule – what a great way of capturing a special moment.  You place your special items into it, close it up and it’s designed to stay sealed!]

Who inspires you?

There are many designers in the world that inspire me for a variety of different reasons. Jewellery designers Such as Alan Adriff, Becky Crow, and Chris Boland I admire for their unique style and hard work. I can spot Adriff’s work from a mile away, I love his little hinges and moving parts that are narrative and fun, often based on dreams and wives tails. Local jewellery designers such as Inky Linky and Magnolia Restrepo are often in my circles and have been jewellery designers for a while inspire, support and advise me as a new business which is amazing, I really appreciate their wise words. Then there are the big legendary designers such as Wendy Ramshaw, beautiful.

What sort of jewellery do you like to wear?

The jewellery I wear is the jewellery I have had on my whole life. I get very attached to it. Boris is the star piece, I wish I had made him. I have many piercings, so there is lots of body jewellery. I wear a pair of heavy silver flesh tunnels that I cast from tear drop stone ones using sand casting. The tunnels have my makers hallmarks engraved, I like to wear them for mostly for that reason.

What’s your favourite gemstone?

I love Rubies, I have a big crush on the colour red. The Sapphire in my engagement ring is pretty beautiful though too. It reflects all over the place. Mother of Pearl is fascinating, it’s so delicate and busy, bursting with colours.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I would love to have a few more stockists and attend all the big events such as Desire, Dazzle and GNCCF. I dream of becoming a specialist in wedding ring design and known for my work. Another dream of mine is to do an ‘Alt JEMS’ range for sub culture fashion, I can see it now. The branding could become green and black with a spooky bug! I would love to make it into a design book like the ones I studied at university, and be quoted with an image and a date. Truly famous!

[We love the sound of AltJEMS!  If you ever do this range I hope you’ll come back and tell us about it…I always hope designers will still think of us when they’re rich and famous!]

 

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How difficult was it to set up your own business?

It’s a strange moment, I had had a month in Thailand with a friend, and was getting scared to come home as I knew that was the beginning of a new life. It’s a bit daunting. I had been on many a short course, had mentoring and read books on how to start up. There was nothing else to do apart from register as self-employed. I told the tax man on 20th of November, scratched my head for a couple of months and then got myself into a collective shop. It’s hard at the start as you know nothing about the practical side of running a business. It’s a bit like fishing in the dark, no deadlines, and no briefs. I found myself being a bit clueless, but as time moves on opportunities come and things start to roll. I have been in the self-employed business almost 2 years now and things are only just starting to move in terms of stockists etc. There is so much to learn.

What did you do before you designed jewellery?

I first started out wanting to be a furniture maker. I knew I loved making 3D, and I loved craft such as woodwork, ceramics and glass. I left school not knowing what to do so my art teacher recommended Art and Design GNVQ for a year, which got me hooked on crafts. From there I did a furniture National Diploma and that naturally progressed me into the furniture degree. Life had become a bit sad, my mum had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and I just swam with the progression. It became a tough patch of life and the degree turned into a product design like course which didn’t have much actual making of final projects at all, I didn’t realise at the time, but I was failing…it hit me like a bus on the final day. I took a year out in 2008 trying to get a job and re build my life, having not found anything I looked at universities as the desire for a degree was burning bright. I found Metalwork and Jewellery at Sheffield Hallam and had an interview (which went very badly) and low and behold…I got a place! I found from failing my 1st degree I was loads better at the 2nd one and graduated with a 2:1! It just proves how life is so fantastic and hard to predict, as the saying goes “learn from your mistakes” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

[That’s really inspiring – it must have been a really difficult time for you and to come through it having found your way into something you enjoy is impressive!]

What do you like to do when you’re not doing this?

I have re discovered the joy of gardening recently after moving from a back to back to a beautiful house with a back garden and a greenhouse (which I have named George) I spent most of my time in there now, growing, thinning and re potting. I cannot believe how happy gardening makes me feel. My cucumber plant is going barmy and I have really big sun flowers growing on my veggie patch. I love it.

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[I do like the fact you name things, although I must confess  I wish I could enjoy gardening, our back garden looks like a disaster zone!]

White gold or yellow gold, or something else…?

I have only just discovered the joy of working in gold. I had a 9 carat wedding rings commission recently. Having only worked in silver since setting up JEMS I was hesitant, but as soon as I began I realised it was an amazing material to work with. When I polish it up, just wow! So now I much prefer working gold to silver, unfortunately as is costs a lot more, I can only work in gold as commissions pieces.

 

Thank you so much to Emma for letting us get to know you a little better – if you’re inspired by this piece you can visit Emma’s website and her shop on Etsy!  You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter at @emma_swailes.   We really hope you’ve enjoyed this post, 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.

 

The journey of a ring

I thought I would chart the process of making a simple ring using the casting process, there are many ways of making an item of jewellery, casting can be a useful technique and in this case it is used for making a one off piece, but it is most often used for making multiples of a item. You can make a master model in a base metal such as copper or brass and then cast it into silver or gold, but in this case I started off with a wax model as carving a master in wax allows for less wastage of precious metal and also allows for shapes and textures which would be more time consuming and difficult to create by other means.

This bock of wax comes with a hole to start you off sizing the ring to your requirements. Firstly a block larger than the design requirements is cut off using a jewellers saw fitted with a special spiral blade which can cut though the wax without clogging too much.

Wax

 

The outline of the design is carved into the wax, and the hole enlarged to the ring size needed, in this case I was making a men’s ring for a very large finger!

The block is cut down to slightly larger than required so it can be filed into shape later and the detail starts to be cut or carved into it.

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Although the weight of wax is substantially lighter than the metal you will find that taking away as much of the wax as possible will keep the weight down and also save money!  In this design inside the front of the ring was hollowed out so it would be more comfortable to wear due to its large size.

The wax model is then sent off to the casters, who, by using the lost wax casting process, will produce the design in whichever metal you have asked for, in this case silver.

In the lost wax casting process the wax model is mounted on a wax rod called a sprue and this is then mounted onto a ‘tree’ with other sprues, the central rod is secured into the base, and filled with a watertight section of pipe called a flask. A plaster like material is poured into the flask after it has set the base support is removed, the flask it placed into a kiln and the wax tree is melted away, leaving a negative space of the shape, molten metal is poured into the shapes, the plaster dissolves when the metal is quenched leaving the finished shape.

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The casting comes back in a rough unfinished state, so then the next task is to clean up the piece file back the excess metal which was used in securing the original model to the tree. Once the piece if filed back, it can then be polished to the required finish, shiny or matt.

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In this design, I then used an oxidising solution, which turns silver black in colour on contact, in order to emphasise the carved line detail on the sides and top to give the piece contrast and depth.

With the ring finished, it just has one more leg of its journey left, travelling to its new owner!

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Goldsmiths’ Fair – 2014

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For over 30 years the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall in the heart of London has been showcasing the very best in British design and craftsmanship in the precious metals.  The annual ‘Goldmiths’ Fair’ this year continues the tradition, but with a new approach to the concept and with many new  and exciting exhibitors.  The fair allows the public to purchase pieces direct from the designer-makers over the two week period – in perfect time for Christmas!  The event contains the latest collections from 170 leading designer-makers, each exhibiting for one week, selected by an expert judging panel assembled by the Goldsmiths Company.

The new look fair, feels fresher and more spacious, the clean lines of the white stands clearly define the individual spaces without looking cluttered and tight, the exhibitors are happy to talk about their pieces and to allow you to take a closer look & try things on!

 

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There are plenty of new exhibitors this year, including Clara Breen who’s colourful pieces caught my eye, Clara incorporates paper into her beautifully crafted pieces, including these ‘Fossil’ Earrings with removable part; Oxidised silver, vermeil, citrine and paper. (week one, stand 15)

 

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Other tempting week one exhibitors include Shivani Patel, Melissa Rigby, new exhibitors Amy Keeper  and Tanja Ufer.

 

A new feature of the fair this year has been Goldsmiths’ Fair Revels ‘Zaha Hadid Selects.’  For the first time the fair has invited an iconic figure from the design world to make a selection of her favourite pieces from the 170 exhibitors. The internationally renowned architect has selected 21 pieces of jewellery and silver which have been displayed together at the start of the fair. Her selection is bold and diverse and all are testimonies to cutting edge design and techniques – here are a couple of my favourites from her selection:

 

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Tom Rucker’s Ring GEO. AEGEANA – This artist goldsmith uses state of the art laser welding technology in conjunction with master goldsmith skills to create his unique pieces, skills which are supremely in evidence in this stunning ring, the intricate laser welding of the wire work and the rich combinations of colour, texture and materials makes this ring a work of art and craft. (week one, stand 78)

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Ute Decker’s – ‘In Praise o Shadows’ Earrings – reminiscent of folded pieces of paper these minimalist but tactile earrings are striking and substantial in size but look effortlessly wearable and have a pleasing fluidity to their overall sculptural appearance. (week one, stand 4)

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It’s all change in week two, and I’m looking forward to checking out the work of  Ornella Iannuzzi (week two stand 72) whose distinctive pieces include this stunning ring:

 

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“A l’Ere Glaciaire”

Also Chris Boland, and Charmian Harris who have both used a variety of interesting gemstones in their bold pieces.

‘Monolith rings’

‘Monolith rings’ by Chris Boland

 

Opal bracelet set with 22ct gold & diamonds by Chairman Harris

Opal bracelet set with 22ct gold & diamonds by Charmian Harris

 

As you can imagine with 170 exhibitors there are far too many dazzling pieces to mention here and as this is a jewellery blog I haven’t even began to feature the many outstanding pieces of silversmithing work on show at the fair as well, definitely worth a look if you manage to visit!

Dates for the Fair 2014

Week one Monday 22 September 2014 – Sunday 28 September
Week two Tuesday 30 September – Sunday 5 October
Closed on Monday 29 September for the change-over.

11am – 6.30pm daily
Thursdays open 8.30pm

 

The Goldsmiths’ Company are also offering a series of breakfast talks over the course of the fair – these feature experts from the jewellery world speaking about their area of specialty, there are some really exciting talks scheduled (for example this morning was Edward Johnson – the London Director of the GIA!) but these are booking up quickly so if you’re interested do have a look at the website for booking details.

Through the Loupe with…Sian Bostwick

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Followers of the blog will be aware of our new series where we take an in-depth look at interesting people connected with the jewellery industry, and in this post we’re delighted to be going “through the Loupe”  with Sian Bostwick to discover what goes on behind the scenes when she makes her beautiful handcrafted jewellery.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sian’s work she is a fabulous silversmith and jeweller creating from her workshop in Kent, and who recently won the 2014 UK Watch and Jewellery Awards New Designer of the Year award, you can read more about her on her blog:

Tell us a bit about the jewellery you design:

All the jewels I create are influenced by literature, fairy tales and my favourite stories. So each jewel has elements and details from the stories in the jewellery, like the hidden porthole of Nautilus collection or the spiral of Alice’s tumble down the rabbit hole and the royal crest of wonderland in the Wonderland hearts. I always want to work in these detail and elements of the story’s so that the wearer can treasure the story and carry it with them always.

 

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How did you get into jewellery designing?

Making has always been part of my life, I was always creating and making things growing up, so after school I went to art college at UCA Rochester for the foundation year course.  It was on this foundation course that we had a day in the jewellery workshops and that was it!  I was in love with the processes, tools (sooo many fun tools) and accurately making something beautiful that would be treasured and kept for generations.  It’s a beautifully romantic idea, but it’s wonderful – jewellery making is the perfect balance of my artsy creative side and my tool loving making side which comes from the line of engineers (civilian and military) in my family.

[wow how interesting – taking all that hereditary engineering skill and applying it to jewellery – no wonder you can get all those lovely intricate details!]

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All your jewellery is handmade – that must be an enormous amount of work – how do you manage?

Most of the time it is me working away in my workshop creating each and every jewel, but at busy times, like at Christmas or before and after a large show, I do have help in the workshop.  Everything is still beautifully handcrafted in our Kent workshop, but with the assistance of a work experience interns, sometimes I work with a new trainee or one that I have worked with before.  This means I can still supply all our of wonderful jewellery lovers with the enchanted jewels all beautiful crafted with the help of our lovely assistants.

[What great experience for your interns – it’s really nice to see the knowledge being passed on, hopefully they’ll get some wonderful inspiration as well as practical experience]

 

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Where do you design and make your jewellery?

Each and every jewel is made in my little workshop based in an artist’s studio complex, attached to an art centre with a gallery, café and lovely sunlit courtyards. It’s wonderful to be based at the Nucleus Arts Centre, it has a wonderfully creative and artistic vibe as it is full of about 30 studios with other artists and creative in residence which creates a great environment to work in.  My workshop it’s self is a little room of jewels, bursting with jewellery to wonder at, fun tools and machinery, a very small selection of inspiring books and collections of bits and bobs including vintage tea sets. My own wonderful space to work in everyday with my jewels, tools and inspiring things around me.  

Designing is done either in the workshop were I can play with materials and make models and test pieces to try out an idea. I also tend to carry my little sketchbook with me all the time so I design were ever and when ever I want, normally while reading and relaxing, walking in the countryside or just wherever I am. These are normally rough initial ideas and sketches that I will neaten out, refine and work out the construction and details in the workshop.

I am also able to offer workshop visits, which I started almost as soon as I moved into my studio space at the art centre, once I had the space set up and sorted out it just seemed like a great idea.  It is an opportunity to visits the workshop where all the jewels are made and see that they are all made by hand and beautifully crafted.  Some like to come and discuss bespoke jewellery ideas and options for customising, or just to have fun trying on lots of enchanted jewellery and having a wonderful afternoon.  We have always received great feedback and I have found that people love to see where the jewels are made, the tools that make them and get an idea of the work and processes involved.  They also love the chance to see our full collections and one-off pieces, see what bespoke jewels can be created in person all in a relaxed afternoon with a lovely bit of tea from my vintage tea sets.

[We think this sounds really exciting, being inside a workshop and getting to see the process up close and personal is always so interesting]

 

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What are your influences?

Wonderful tales and books with a bit of classical elegant design.  Each collection is influenced by a story or book like the legend of Tristan & Isuelt, Alice in Wonderland, 20,000 League Under the Sea and tale of enchanted woodlands, fairy tales and fairy filled glades. I always want my jewellery to have details and element of the story or for the Springtime collection the feel of fairytale magic and enchantment. All with a touch of elegance and style which means the jewellery can be worn effortlessly and beautifully by anyone.

butterfly stud earrings

How difficult was it to set up your own business?

One of the trickiest things was finding a suitable space to base myself and work from, finding a suitable space in my area that I could use as a workshop and was affordable was difficult, eventually I was able to get my workshop set up at the Nucleus Arts Centre.  Whilst there are a lot of artists studio spaces in the highly creative and buzzing area of Medway, there aren’t many for messy and noisy workers like myself!  Once we moved into our studio space and were able to create our workshop we have been able to grow and grow, it’s been really wonderful.

 

What did you do before you designed jewellery?

After graduating from the UCA Rochester Jewellery and Silversmithing BA (Hons) I worked for a few other designers, makers and gallery’s gaining invaluable experience before setting up my own jewellery brand and launching at IJL (International Jewellery London) on the Kickstart stand.

 

What are your aspirations for the future?

I have lots of plans to expand the business over the next few years, including international stockists, more media and press coverage and lots of new jewellery collections.  But the final major aspiration is for my own little boutique with a in-house workshop with space for another designer or 2; a consultation area where I can sit down with customers and discuss bespoke jewellery designs and commissions; a little shop front area stocking all our beautiful jewels and a few one-off pieces of jewellery alongside selection of jewels from British jewellery designer/makers whose work I love.  A real wonder room and treasure trove of jewellery delights, where we have lovely little late open evenings new jewellery line launches to.  But this is far off, but I know I will make it happen.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not designing jewellery?

I live in Rochester in Kent which is a beautiful area and a very buzzing artistic scene, there are lots of artists studios, makers and art café’s as well as wondrous second-hand book shops and antique treasure troves so it’s a lovely place to relax and spend some time whilst not working. I dig though the bookshops for inspiration or wonder though the beautiful cathedral. I also love to walk in the beautiful Kent countryside, walking though the woods and coastline enjoying the peace, it’s very inspirational and I love being outside exploring theses spaces.

 

What sort of jewellery do you like to wear?

Mostly my own creations, its a perk of the job to make a few pieces for yourself!  You are always the best advertiser for your jewellery so its great to wear your own work as much as you can.  I have a few things from each collection and I love wearing them all the time. I wouldn’t design or make anything I don’t love and would wear myself.  I do have a few pieces from other designer maker that I also love and wear along with my own creations, I have some amazing necklaces my Momocreatura, Jessica de Lotz and Clare English which have been gifts after some heavy hinting to my other half.

 

What’s your favourite gemstone?

I love iridescent shimmering stones like Moonstones, Labradorite and opal; also my birthstone Emerald for its vibrant colour.  These are just the top few but there are so many stones that I just love to work with and stone shopping is always a bit dangerous, it pretty hard to be strict with yourself and not get all the gorgeous pretty stones you want.

[hmmm yes we know what you mean, there’s just something so buyable about stones!  Labradorite is one of our favourites too!]

 

White gold or yellow gold…or something else?

Silver, then beautifully pink rose gold (which looks stunning) but I also work a lot with titanium which is a wonderful material. It’s brilliantly light weight,incredibly strong and there is the possibility of anodising the titanium to achieve a whole rainbow of colours. At the moment I use the blue and purple colours when anodising as it works perfectly for my butterfly’s and forget me not flowers, creating a stunning slightly iridescent purple blues.

Thank you so much to Sian for letting us get to know you a little better – if you’re inspired by this piece you can visit Sian’s website and even her workshop!  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter at @sianbostwick.   We really hope you’ve enjoyed this post, 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.

 

 

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