Wednesday, 10 July 2013


The Jewellery Show London misled me.

I arrived at Somerset House on Day One, sized up my surroundings, and thought: "Well finally! An event at #JW13 that's living up to my expectations - a bunch of sparklies in a price bracket the normal person cannot even begin to contemplate, and sellers not too shy to let them know it." I soon learned the folly in my rash judgement would be revisited upon me several times more before Jewellery Week's end.

My experience began before I even made it to the first floor of the Embankment Galleries; where the uber-stylish Rock Fest was already in full swing. Whilst I was busy asking one of the many, very friendly and helpful staff on the ground floor to point me in the direction of The Stones - Gems, not Rolling - I was stopped by the Marketing Manager from the Violet Darkling, who personally escorted me up to their stand and introduced me to the team, and designer behind the name.

Louisa's designs focus on the beauty of night
Intrigued by that name before I even set eyes on the pieces; I was less impressed by the brand's celebrity following - apparently a certain famous Baijan Boo...I mean Beauty is a big fan - and far more interested in the 'things that go bump in the night' design inspirations by New Zealand native, creator Louisa Richwhite. Driven by all things nocturnal; hearing how Richwhite brings her visions to life was almost as mystically captivating as the designs she creates. The intricacy in her detailing made you want to hear the stories behind each piece. Knowing how susceptible I am to themes and concepts, and aware that the clock was ticking dangerously close to closing time, I tore myself away before I completely forgot how many rooms I counted on the floor plan.

Borderline ritualistic in how I break down my time at events and exhibitions; I started back at the very beginning of the jewellery exhibition, with Von Trappe-esque precision and methodology. Taking it from the top landed me in the Di Perle Room or, as it should rightly have been entitled - 'Perle Heaven'. Never in my life have I seen so many pearls, in so many colours, shapes and varieties in such a confined space! The only way one could have enjoyed the moment more, was if they were literally frolicking in a paddle pool full of the things, until they ended up in places best known for a different kind of hidden treasure...

Pearl Heaven...

Exiting stage left before I ended up lost in my darkside, I made my way to the next room, housing collections from Ralph Masri, Meditteraneo, Anticoa, LipPlus Flower Jewellery From Italy and the International Gemological Institute, where I met Claudia, one half of the Anticoa design team, and her very shy daughter. Along with husband Aldo, Claudia has been hand-crafting jewellery for the past 20 years, and is currently showcasing their latest collection on the worldwide jewellery fair circuit. With pieces as gorgeous as these (as well as those in the album on the ESP Facebook Page), it's no wonder that their designs have had such longevity, or that the brand has found a place with every cultural audience.

A genuine family business - Aldo and Claudia began 20 years ago, and have training their daughter in all aspects...

Closing time was nigh, leaving only a few minutes to visit the Amaro and Maree London stands in the room next door, alongside the Violet Darkling team I met to begin with. Whilst Amaro had one of my favourite collections of the day, it was with Maree London owner and designer Maria Thompson that I had one of my favourite encounters throughout Jewellery Week's entirety. Not just in love with her beautifully delicate silver and gold designs; Maria was the welcoming type of down-to-earth personality that gave this event strength and credibility. Equally repellent of the heirs and graces that were unavoidable with the representatives of certain brands; it was the genuine, relatable approach of a business savvy woman who knows her brand, who her markets are, and why she has a place with them, that made me linger and talk more than one should when they're on a timer, with so much ground still to cover. Fortunately, it didn't take 10 minutes of conversation to discover that more than the best gift basket from Revlon themselves, the Maree London collection and designer were worth it...

Maree London's Silver, Gold and Rose Gold collection were a beautiful variety based on one original idea

Returning for Day Two with fresh vigour and enthusiasm, a different entry point to the first floor meant that my bearings from the previous night were slightly off and so, the new day started with a visit to an entirely new group room.

Magnetic, Mantis 7, Ai Jade, and Nota Bene Jewellery, and Elisa & Janna all provided equally stopworthy stands, with collections hotter than the small room's boiling interior. Mantis 7 probably took the crown for the most unique collection in the room; which is probably just as well, considering the line housed a varied selection of skulls to actually sit a crown on top of...

Roger Canevari's showpiece, now 7 years old, a silver buckle cast in wax
I have to say, I never before considered the circumstances under which I might describe miniature decorated craniums as 'fashion'...or even remotely interesting; not being a crossbones-loving kinda gal. Designer Roger Canevari described his childhood fascination with the structure that houses our noggins with such a passion however, that even I saw them with new mystical eyes, no blood, gore, or matter involved.

The quartz and copper designs by Elisa Tummillo and Johanna Curti, better known as Elisa & Janna, were just the kind of stuff to take your breath away. Environmentally aware, the jewellery maker (Tummillo) and gemologist (Curti) brand the pieces they make with recycled copper tubing, textiles, wires and other materials that our society discards, as 'Sculpture Jewellery', proving that there really is beauty in everything.

Ai Jade Jewellery was full of beautiful butterflies in a variety of gorgeous gemstones - some of which I couldn't even name, and the designs by stand neighbours Nota Bene were so delicately chic, that you couldn't help but feel taken back in time, to the jewellery boxes of Hayworth, Crawford and Bergman.

Just about time for one more room, before the catwalk show I had been looking forward to since I first saw the Jewellery Week timetable; I definitely left my most lavish stop for last. Retail Jeweller UK Finalist, Ornella Ianuzzi drew similar inspirations from nature as Michelle Oh; whose collections were on show at Jewel East the previous week, and the Coldlilies Private Viewing the previous day, making it near impossible not to draw a comparison between the two. Not to detract from the complexity of Ianuzzi's pieces, equally exquisite in their own right.

It was at the next stand that I experienced another highlight of my entire #JW13 visit. The collection on show by Noga Jewellery Design absolutely blew me away; not just with it's beauty, but also the degree of detail that artist - and I mean that in every sense of the word - Noga Goldstein, puts into each piece that she creates. Using various kinds of natural seeds that she collects on walks with her children as her guide; Goldstein recreates them so literally, that you wouldn't be alone in assuming she must have dipped the natural elements in gold fondue, tenderly set a precious stone, and left both to dry with love. You'd be wrong, but you wouldn't be alone. Talking with Noga made you want to visit her Italian atelier in the Galilee Hills, sit in a rocking chair, and just watch her work, while you sip on a chilled glass of Moscato, her story was that fascinating.

Noga collects pieces of nature, and uses them to fashion her designs...

It was just as well I'd set several countdown alarms on my phone to keep me on target, otherwise I may have ended up too far lost in a reverie where Noga adopted me (sorry Mum), to be found again. Tearing myself from my new found happy place to advance to the next stand took a momentous effort, made only somewhat easier by the simple, but pretty, Shiny Wish collection. R. E. Morrish earned the award for biggest gemstones on the block, with designs reminiscent of red carpet loans sanctioned by the E! Channel's Style Police. There was no way you were going to walk past Jeff Hoopman's Jewels and not pay attention. Where Violet Darkling's nocturnal creations were mystical and mysterious; Hoopman's species ran the gamut between whimsical and creepy (if you're a fellow arachnophobic). It took every fibre of my being - and a lot of inner pep-talking and focus - not to be distracted (terrified) by the all too realistic creepy-crawly strategically perched on his shoulder throughout out entire conversation; but manage it I did, with the help of a golden octopus, it's gem of a heart and a really interesting conversation about the subtle elements infused within each of his handmade creations, immediately noticeable, if you just stop and take a really good look.

Jeff Hoopman's 'Octopus with Pearls'

The Viva Emotion stand, with their precious stones in Sterling Silver settings was the last to command my attention before the final buzzer sounded, and I hotfooted it to the basement just in time to be seated. Down went the lights, up went my excitement and anticipation - my biggest highlight was about to begin...

Stay tuned - the third and final instalment of my Jewellery Show London special is on the way!

Until the next...
ES ;)

For the Jewellery Show photo album in full, with collections by each of the designers mentioned and more, including London Road, CARAT*, Lalique, fei Liu, Divine Gems BVBA, Lundajoia, and Eleuterio, visit the ESP Facebook Page.