Friday, 29 May 2009

What Are You Wearing? 002: Holly 28.05.09

This week's What Are You Wearing features Holly - and where to begin with Holly?! She and I headed for the bright lights of London back in 2006, after first meeting in sixth form. She’s a talented young fashion designer; bright, creative and a continual source of inspiration to me. Holly now finds herself living in Dalston and studying at London College of Fashion, where she’s currently mid-way through a degree in Women’s Wear. One thing’s for sure, she’s going to be a success; it's hard not to when your full name's Holly Woods!

Like me, Holly has jewellery which she wears everyday without fail. Most of these pieces are items she’s been given over the past few years, all of which have a sentimentality to them.
On her left hand she wears three rings. The ring on her middle finger and sterling silver and marcasite art-deco style ring, given to her by her mother for her birthday earlier this year. On her ring finger is a Zoe and Morgan ‘Love Lasso’ ring, from their current Who Loves Wins collection, given to her by her best friend Dale, purchased at London’s Beyond the Valley. The ring on her little finger was a present from yours truly; Holly explained ‘I always lose it but it always turns back up again’. Aaah!

As a treat to self – and because she has been one of Holly’s favourite designers for so many years – Holly recently purchased one of Vivienne Westwood’s rings. I’m really quite a fan of this piece; it has a certain air of ‘don’t mess with me’ about it and can be worn one of two ways. Holly usually wears it the middle finger of her right hand, but if I’m lucky she’ll sometimes ‘unfold’ it and wear it in its alternative knuckle duster style across three fingers. Love it!

Finally we have Holly’s necklaces. The longer chain is 9ct gold and features a 9ct heart-shaped locket, given to her by her old workmates when she left the job of her teenage years. In front of the locket is a large, circular gold toned pendant, with tiny pink roses etched on the front. I think Holly found this in a charity shop back home and, like the locket, has worn it ever since. The name necklace is 14ct gold and was a present from one of her elder sisters a few years ago on her 19th birthday. It’s so very pretty up close; not once has it left her neck in that time.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Trend: Ethnic Luxe

So it appears spring is now upon us: glorious golden sunshine; grey torrential rain; trees in full green leaf and the faint sound of the pastel-coloured ice cream vans, weaving their way through London's back streets.

However, jewellery's already embracing hues evocative of summer; flashes of turquoise green, hot pink and burnt orange have caught my eye. The colours are combined with wonderful and varied textures, creating pieces which hint at handcrafting and individuality. Ethnic luxe is just that: beaded, threaded, woven; a myriad of colour. Each piece is slightly different to the next and - rather than being self-consciously precious - begs to be worn with an air of casual nonchalance.

Fiona Paxton's SS09 colours and patterns quickly caught my eye. Her necklaces rocketed on the fashionista's shopping lists earlier this year when Drew Barrymore was snapped strolling - complete with Judas Priest t-shirt - with one of Fiona's more rock'n'roll designs slung around her neck. The new necklaces are bright and bold, featuring geometric patterns reminiscent of Aztec cloth.

Images courtesy of Nina and Lola

Deeper colours and softer textures appear in the range of beautiful embroidered earrings by Teïka. Taking the metal earring shape as form of frame, Casablanca-based Zeinab El Alami - the mind and hands behind Teïka - carefully hand-stitches each design using a fine needle and brightly coloured silken and metallic threads. Zeinab's designs are described as a 'fresh and modern interpretation of traditional hand embroidery"; an unusual, if not unique mix of Berber jewellery styles and '70s bohemia.

Images courtesy of Kabiri

Wendy Mink is a Tribeca resident who creates jewellery heavily influenced by travels to India and Nepal, featuring rubies, apatite, Peruvian opals; silver and 22ct gold vermeil. Working with Tibetan jewellers, she designs and makes ethnic inspired earrings, necklaces and bracelets. The necklaces below resemble Teïka's designs, but are instead studded with tiny glass beads. Wendy's earrings amalgamate bright semi-precious stones and traditional Indian styling, producing a subtle femininity that is the embodiment of ethnic luxe.

Images courtesy of Wendy Mink

For a quick, affordable ethnic luxe fix, head to Monsoon. Their range of jewellery features oriental fabric-covered bangles, fringed hoop earrings and bright mosaic tile rings. Irresistible!

Friday, 22 May 2009

What Are You Wearing? 001: Carley 19.05.09

So here is the very first 'What Are You Wearing?' post, where I'll be collaring friends, acquaintances or even strangers to ask them about their jewellery. Meet my first victim - chosen not only for her mix'n'match attitude to jewellery, but also out of convenience - my sister, Carley.

Carley's choice of jewellery can vary from day-to-day. One day she might be wearing a chunky costume jewellery ring, another day it might be woven friendship bracelets and stacked-up gold bangles. But one thing's for certain, it's always a mix of styles, metals and materials.

Here she's wearing a bracelet worn and loved for many years; a sterling silver Latham and Neve piece, with a little heart charm. I think she was given it around her 18th birthday - the lucky thing - by a very generous babysitting client! The ring is, I believe, my great-grandmother's wedding ring; it's 22ct rose gold.

Around her neck is Carley's much-loved 9ct gold horse necklace, an H Samuel bargain that she never takes off. This is her second horse necklace; the first was mine, which Carley sneakily lifted from my jewellery box, wore for several months and then lost. The current one, however, is exactly the same and was purchased by her friend Lewis either out of kindness or in an attempt to have her stop pining after it!
The stone-set ring is the newest addition to her jewellery box, a labradorite Medina ring by Monica Vinader. She spotted this in Bloomsbury Jewellery at Easter, when we were home to see the family; suffice to say she couldn't come back to London without it!

Apologies for the poor photo quality - we took about 20 and gave up to have another cup of tea!

Friday, 15 May 2009

UK Jewellery Awards 2009: Shortlist

So fast approaching is that time of year again... big names, high glamour but most importantly of all, fabulous jewellery.

The UK Jewellery Awards 2009 have released their shortlist, the categories of which include Independent Retailer of the Year, Retail Star of the Year and Young Designer of the Year. And with last year's winners including the likes of Alex Monroe, Stephen Webster and Astley Clarke (what a website!), this year's shortlist proves just as exciting.

So, let's see who's in the running...

First up, as a jewellery sales girl myself, I'm most intrigued by the Independent Retailer of the Year category. There's really quite a mix here: jewellery designer Kirsten Goss sits alongside the wholly contemporary Kabiri. Also shortlisted are Jeremy France Jewellers from Winchester, a family-founded business for a family market, selling classic diamond rings, pieces by Links of London and affordable silver for a younger crowd. Steffan's jewellers, with two shops in the midlands, are a well-marketed similarly family-oriented jewellers with a contemporary twist, selling the likes of Thomas Sabo, Monica Vinader and Shaun Leane (below).

In this category, I feel the right balance of brands may be an advantage, yet it also depends on what the clientele are looking for. London-based Nathalie Kabiri, for example, is always quick to snap-up young jewellery graduates (such as last year's Young Designer winner, Ana de Costa) for her stores, and continually pushes boundaries, attracting ever-more customers as she does. Steffan's, on the other hand, seem focused on twenty- and thirty-somethings with a bit of cash to spend on something quirky such as Stephen Webster's gargoyle cufflinks or murano glass Trollbeads (below).

Another exciting category is Best Catwalk Jewels of the Year, a chic array of all things bold and bejewelled, strutted up and down the runways at the various Fashion Weeks. Shortlisted designers include Collado Garcia, who created bodysuits studded with a myriad of Swarovski crystals. At 14kg per suit, they were likely no mean feat for the models to wear, but their futuristic beauty says it all. Anyone else fancy a Mexican sugar skull now!?

Also on the Best Catwalk Jewels shortlist is one of my favourite men's jewellery designers, Hannah Martin. At LFW she teamed up with menswear designer JW Anderson, adding chunky crucifixes to his Brideshead-meets-Velasquez clothing designs. Her rhodium-plated white gold spike ring caught my eye some time ago; it's turned typical jewellery design on its head by setting brilliant-cut rubies upside down, adding blood-red sparkling spikes to the mix. Devilish!

To check out the other nominees, take a look at the UK Jewellery Awards' website. And good luck to all those shortlisted.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Long time, no see

Hello all!

Firstly, let me apologise for the looooonngggg gap between my last post and this - at last - today.

Alas, with my finals now here (I'm currently in-between exams), I have been super-busy typetypetyping away, completing my three assignments and the dreaded dissertation! But the grand total of 40,000 words are now done and dusted, and all the remains is the next 10 days spent revising in the library!

Sadly Like Gold Dust has been neglected in that time. Never fear, however, as the Hannah Bedford interview is very much on its way (see below).

In the mean time, check out the scrumptious designs by Tamara Gomez. Her eye-catching yet simple double disc silver rings are ghetto gone good. I fell in love with ger 18ct gold earrings, below; perfect for summertime when the heat + piled-up hair = the need for gorgeous earrings!

Designer: Hannah Bedford

Hannah Bedford is one young British jewellery designer to keep an eye on. Now, I know that sounds like a conclusion almost, like I'm writing the end of this piece at the beginning, but trust me - this gal will go places!

Like Sarah Herroit, I met Hannah Bedford at Desire a few months back; she was bright, funny and so relaxed that I was sold within seconds. Her jewellery, however, needed no introduction; simple organic forms in gold and silver, each lovingly crafted to the highest spec. Feeling that I couldn't miss out, Hannah answered a few of my questions, offering a fabulous insight into her designs, her making and her future plans.

K: Hannah, tell me a little about how you got into jewellery designing and making...

H: When I was studying Art foundation I had a part time job in a contemporary craft gallery called the Jelly Legg’d Chicken in Reading. They had a mixed crafts gallery, with artist’s studios above the shop. I had always been fascinated by the handmade jewellery and would visit the jewellers in their studios. I was really inspired by their work and liked the fact that their job was both creative and skills based. Then, in 2001 I got accepted to study Jewellery & Silversmithing at Birmingham School of Jewellery. I went with absolutely no metal work skills … so it was all a bit of a shock!!

K: Your resulting collections are superb - and unusual; what has been the inspiration behind them?

H: My work is influenced by my interest in natural forms and growth. I take inspiration from textures, shapes and forms found in seeds, shells and fungi. I love the idea of things that are partially concealed – looking underneath leaves to discover clusters of lichen, for example. Hidden and concealed elements are incorporated in my Granule collection. I also like to explore the growth and interlocking of elements in my jewellery – clusters of granules creep and entwine about the pieces.
K: It was the granule collection which really caught my eye at Desire. You mentioned that you use some traditional silver and goldsmithing methods in your work - do you find these bring something extra special to each piece?

H: I like to explore with the technical procedures I use – fusing and granulation. I feel that these input into my creative inspiration and often I am led by my exploration of a technique as much as my creative stimulus. I relish that these techniques enable me to work closely and directly with each piece – I think it feeds the control freak side of me! I also feel that by employing these techniques inevitably each piece I make is unique.
K: Of course, as each will differ in how it has been crafted. Like me, you're London-based; how do you find designing and working in London, especially at your studio in Deptford's Cockpit Arts?

H: Since I moved to London I've noticed a really positive effect on my business. Being part of recognised studios such as Cockpit has enabled me to raise my profile and meet fantastic clients. Sometime we have open studio days which are fantastic events. I also enjoy the support and interaction from the other makers. There is so much happening in London for jewellers right now that I feel it is crucial for me to be here as I begin to establish my name.

K: Absolutely, I feel contemporary jewellery design is really shaking things up; it feels as though the 'big names' are on their way out. On that note, what's been the most exciting part of your jewellery designing and making career so far?

H: There have been many exciting parts, I have had some fabulous commission work, which has enabled me to work in larger quantities of gold and platinum - always a treat! Also I have found building the business and seeing it grow - both in terms of sales, publicity, and the work I produce - really exciting.
K: I guess things can only get better and better! So 2009 and beyond: have you any big plans for Hannah Bedford Jewellery?

H: Yes there's lots going on! This year I will be exhibiting at Origin for the first time, which is really exciting. I will also be exhibiting a new body of work developing from the granule collection. In a few weeks I will be exhibiting at Bovey Tracey Contemporary Craft Fair and the next Cockpit Open Studios, both of which I am really looking forward to!

It's great to see Hannah establishing a name for (literally!) herself. From her base at Cockpit Arts - which even Vogue has dubbed 'a notorious hotbed of emerging talent' - Hannah no doubt has a great future ahead. If you want to see more, head to next month's Deptford Open Studio or if Devon's more up your street, you can meet Hannah at the Bovey Tracey Contemporary Craft Fair.