Thursday, 24 October 2013


International Jewellery London held a lavish Exhibitor Networking Reception on the second of their four-day exhibition last month, where Yours Truly was invited to sum up the sparkly sights.

The warm welcome on arrival at the liquid opportunity to mingle, did little to quell my initial irritation when four different members of staff failed to direct me to the Press Office that I was required to report to. It took several wrong turns, flights of stairs, and one accidental find; before I stumbled across it. Signing in and collecting my information pack; I followed directions to the back of the venue, where I eventually found the lush cerise pink carpet signalling the catwalk stage, now roped off for the private party

The inimitable Hilary Alexander (with one Johnny Rocket in the background...)
Whilst no expert, my training this year has taught me, that the way the audience were milling around, lacking impatience, and not attempting to harm the nearest person mercilessly for a better view, or even squash into the seated areas, could only mean one thing: 30 minutes into the 45-minute catwalk presentation, the showcase was already over! Confirmation of my guess by a fellow photographer took me straight to Plan B, and so I started doing the rounds. Every shred of frustration dissipated however, the moment I laid eyes on the iconic Hilary Alexander who, as I mentioned last month, gave me some one of a kind advice going into my second Fashion Week.

Advice bestowed, Ms Alexander then told me in no uncertain terms, to pay close attention to the four recipients of the Bright Young Gems Award, whom she had personally helped select. If Hilary Alexander tells you to check out her proteges, know it's time to go CIA in your homework - immediately rooting around in my giftbag, I went straight for the press release:

'Bright Young Gems is the popular International Jewellery London feature which each year unveils the 'next big talent' – as yet undiscovered jewellery designers who are set to break the mould and inspire the industry. They are nominated by a prestigious panel including Hilary Alexander, Vivienne Becker of the Financial TimesHow To Spend It, Claudia Mahoney of Glamour magazine, Caragh McKay of Wallpaper* magazine and Bec Clarke of successful retailer Astley Clarke.

For the first time, Bright Young Gems is 'lighting up the UK' as the initiative goes national for 2013. Major UK colleges and jewellery courses were involved, with the panel selecting designers from key regions with exciting jewellery scenes.

"Broadening this initiative to include a national profile of graduates this year is warmly welcomed by us in the Midlands. Bright Young Gems is a brilliant platform to support new talent. It is tough to break into the market as a new graduate so every bit of help, particularly of this calibre, goes a long way towards building the confidence that they need to succeed. These new designers have real talent and will fully appreciate being part of such an important event in the UK jewellery calendar,"
Birmingham School of Jewellery’s Course Director Gaynor Andrews.

 "Bright Young Gems is a superb initiative and shows the industries wonderful support for young, up and coming jewellers while introducing them to the industry through IJL. It gives them a great kick-start in their future glittering careers,"
Marianne Forrest, Course Leader at London Metropolitan University.

This year’s Bright Young Gems have been unveiled as... 

Jessica Nam is a Birmingham based designer-maker with a passion for jewellery and previous experience within the creative design industry. She now uses only precious metals after having trained at the renowned School of Jewellery in Birmingham's famous Jewellery Quarter. Inspired by the balance of repeat formations and the opulence of natural gemstones, Jessica meticulously handcrafts strong sculptural forms in gold and silver, which often encase sparkling gemstones in an array of sumptuous colours. Combined with highly polished textures and her attention to wearability, Jessica creates subtle statement pieces of sophisticated jewellery.

Jessica says:
"Since starting out I have always intended to show in London, so to be given the opportunity to show at such an important trade event as a Bright Young Gem is incredibly encouraging and exciting. I'm looking forward to getting valuable feedback by established professionals in the industry".


Amy Logan's work is inspired by the drawn line, in particular continuous line drawings which have a wonderful flow to them. The pieces she creates always have that sense of fluidity at the heart of their creation. She studied Metal Work and Jewellery at Sheffield Hallam University, gaining the skills and knowledge to create her collection after graduation

Amy comments:
"I am honoured to have been selected for Bright Young Gems and so excited to be able to say I will be at IJL this year. I plan to create some new pieces for the show and feel it will be a fantastic opportunity to have my work viewed by important industry experts".


Carina De Jager was born in South Africa. Spending much of her childhood outdoors, she has a love for the natural world. This fascination resurfaces in the organic textures and patterns which appear in her work.

Graduating this year from The Cass, London Metropolitan University, where she studied silversmithing and jewellery, and now working from her London studio, Carina creates handmade jewellery pieces in a range of precious and non-precious materials. Her current range, Cohesion, is the result of her research into nature, and more specifically the relationship between plants and cities, with the aim of celebrating the resilience of plants to survive in unnatural and hostile environments. This inspiration was combined with experimentation with hot-melt glue in an attempt to recreate more organic forms. Once cast, these pieces reveal intricate patterns similar to the tangled root systems which lay hidden under our cities and towns.


"My inspiration for my collection is drawn from my heritage and homeland," states Kelly Munro. She was born in a small town in the far north coast of Scotland, well known for its historical fishing industry. This inspiration is reflected in the lobster pots which were a starting point for her graduation show work. The technique of intricate saw piercing enables her to create nets and lightweight structures. Her aim is to shadow the forms of the nets and pots, and loosely interpret these shapes in her own way. The technique of pyrography plays an important role in her pieces, allowing her to make often detailed patterns combined with charred edges and loose paint strokes, mirroring the intricately knotted nets of the trade and wind beaten driftwood. Her work aims to portray the rustic look of items found near harbours and tide lines.

"I am really excited to exhibit as a Bright Young Gem in September. I am looking forward to seeing my work in a different light, and seeing what commercial potential lies within some of my pieces," comments Kelly, who has just graduated with a 1st Class BA (HONS) from Edinburgh College of Art.


And then of course, there was The Retailer's Choice - Hannah KimberAn independent jewellery designer-maker and graduate from the Birmingham School of Jewellery, Hannah is set for a bright future with her striking statement pieces. Inspired by Islamic architecture, incorporating pattern with luxurious materials to create magnificent couture creations, her jewellery is stunning. She is a fan of using modern forms of jewellery production such as CAD, 3D printing and laser sintering technologies.

Due to this keen interest in production methods, Hannah aims to be recognised for her innovative use of the laser sintering technology which gives her a unique selling point as it is in such early stages within the trade. She has created collections built in bronze, that are 18ct yellow gold plated and gem set, resulting in luxurious cocktail style rings and necklaces, as well as dramatic black nylon and silver 18ct yellow gold plated creations. 


There's nothing like guidance from a Legend to trigger your mood's Reset button and so, off I floated on Cloud Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine. With stronger spirits than the contents of my flute, I made my way around the merry affair; introducing myself to new faces, and catching up with some familiar ones. The endearing brother / sister team from family-run Sonny's Jewellery were as entertaining as the 4-piece band, serenading us all under soft lighting. Down to Earth and relatable, these two were the kind of people that you retain as your family jewellers, if you're so financially endowed

Moving through the crowd, I chanced upon the IJL version of the popular lunch table at school, thrilled to recognise my favourite find from Jewellery Week earlier this year. The absolutely lovely Maria Thompson, better known to you and I as Maree London, and Lucy Quartermaine - better known as LucyQ Designs, were holding court at a table full of beverages and banter that I just had to join.

A lovely evening of catch up and introductions to new brands, the success by night's end far outweighed my bumpy start, making me grateful to my kind hosts. Here's to venturing back to next year's housewarming at Olympia, on 31st August.

Until the next...
ES ;)