I was just reading through The Guild of Jewellery Designers jewellery trends report for Spring/Summer 2012 – here if you’d like to read it for yourself, and was really interested because it echoed something that has been on my mind for a while. The author (Jayne Coulson) describes a move away from the big, bold excesses of the past couple of seasons towards a more crafted, considered and creative approach. The word she uses is ‘integrity’. I’ve been thinking about that as I’ve found myself looking much more carefully at costume jewellery over the past couple of years, as my own business has grown. I’ve always been surprised at, well, what you don’t get for your money. It’s quite common to find base metals and low-grade stones for high prices, even for the more exclusive brands. Now, I don’t know the production costs attached to large-scale manufacture, which must be quite high, but I have this idea that anything over around $150 ought to be made of solid silver, with proper, good quality stones. And this seems to me to be the strength of the smaller, artisan jeweller, who can control this much better, select their materials and work to a smaller scale. The consumer therefore gets that much more for their money. More creativity, more quality, more value.
In her article, Jayne Coulson describes a return to line and form, as designs echo the asymetric lines and curves of tailored clothing, a trend for ocean-inspired organic pieces and a return to lady-like dressing (I have a fab line in pearls in my shop!!). Also, there is a renewal of interest in handmade finishes; hammered, engraved, brushed and granulated. Above left is Marsha Drew’s Riptide bracelet, made from fold-formed sterling silver (part of a larger collection), and right are a pair of embossed sterling silver earrings made by Petaluna. I adore both of these pieces; the spareness of the design and the creativity where fascinating and complex forms have been wrought from a simple piece of sheet silver. In these straightened and uncertain times, there seems to be a move towards integrity of build and design; pieces driven by a thoughtful design process, made from materials that are worth something and will stand the test of time. Anyway, what do you think?
Stacy Low from Form and Funktion creates pieces of jewellery that are contemporary treasures; a unique blend of contemporary clean lines with ornate detail. She describes her creative process at its best as a state of ‘flow’ where she is ‘a vehicle for something that is pouring through me and bringing art to life.’ This sense where she, the creator, instead of imposing something on metal and gem, steps back and allows them to speak to her, engenders a sense of connection to the entire world. She herself states that her design philosophy embraces the idea that life is enriched by detail, and by the way that people notice the details in even everyday things. In this way, she strives for pieces with several layers of detail, ‘treats for the eyes’, so that every time you look you notice something different. This can be seen in this beautifully tactile silver and topaz ring (right) with its layering of textures, combination of polished and oxidised surfaces and judicious choice of stone. Both this and the silver and aquamarine ring (above) fascinate with their clean lines and ornate detail and cause the observer to look twice; are they heirlooms, or pieces that are utterly now? The truth is, a bit of both. You can find more about Stacy’s work as well as information about where to buy at her website, www.formandfunktion.com.
This looks like something Winnie the Pooh might write, in which case there should be a little song, but I won’t attempt that…! I have such difficulties photographing pale stones; the hardest being pale blues and aquas. Stones which are a intense, bright hue in real life, such as Swiss Blue Topaz and Apatite, turn out pale and washed-out looking. Pale stones such as sky blue topaz and aquamarine are even harder. One of my customers tells me that it is due to to the wave length of the colour blue and it is notoriously hard to shoot in print media. This sort of thing is common, pictured left are Swiss Blue Topaz 4mm cabochons. It isn’t horrible, but Swiss Blue Topaz is a very vibrant stone and this makes it appear soft and pale. In addition, the background is a murky greyish colour and there are bright white reflective patches on the stones. If I twiddle with the levels I can get the background whiter but then the reflective patches get very extremely white and the colours begin to look very unreal. I have recently developed a new technique – can anyone see what I’ve done here? These are Swiss Blue Topaz, 6mm cabochons (right), and Apatite 6mm cabochons (left), and here you can see that the colours have remained deep and intense. I’m much happier with these, as there are none of the white patches and the colour is much more true to life. My only problem is that the image is now quite stylised, and sometimes I suspect almost cartoonish. What do you think? I would love to hear from anyone who has the same problem and who has found a solution. If you share yours, I’ll share mine!