I have a friend who has a slate testicle
It’s not some kind of prosthetic following a nasty sporting accident, it’s actually a perfectly smooth, ovoid slate pebble with a slice of silver embedded into it and finished flush with the surface. He holds it when he’s feeling stressed and it’s one of those beautiful tactile objects that somehow transmits something beneficial to the the holder.
Now I don’t want to say that having a piece of my jewellery is like holding my friend’s testicle, but I would want all of my work to give pleasure as an object, almost like a sculpture, and not just look great as a piece of jewellery.
Whether it’s a mobile phone, a car or a handbag we like to have and handle things that both look and feel stylish. It’s no coincidence that much of the style of jewellery that I produce is displayed and sold in art galleries rather than on the high street and many ‘designer jewellers’ describe themselves as ‘artists’ rather than manufacturers or craftsmen.
Pleasure and treasure
Personally, I don’t think of myself as an artist. I love designing and making beautiful things and I do aspire to make jewellery that has artistic merit. Most of all, though, I just aim to produce something that gives pleasure through what it is, and this means that it has to look and feel great. Where I’ve succeeded the piece will automatically be something that the owner will love to wear and will become a piece to treasure and to pass on.
There are many occasions where you might find an urgent need to fiddle: waiting in a cafe for a friend to turn up, in the laundrette, waiting for the spin cycle to finish (when really there’s not time to start another article in ‘Hello’), waiting for the kids to emerge form the school gate. The list goes on.
Salvation is at hand. This two part ring, like many other pieces in my range, is designed to be fiddled with. The beads intermesh like gears and can be rotated around each other. Get bored with that and you can spin them like coins or lay them down and try and flick sweeteners into them from across the table. The possibilities are endless.
Many of my rings can be put together in different ways (take a look at the Interlock ring) and many of my necklaces and bracelets break down into individual links so that you can add or subtract them to make different lengths. Other than the obvious benefit of having a bracelet that will keep pace with the fluctuations of your diet, it has the added benefit of keeping your child amused whilst you wait for the chicken nuggets to arrive.
Jewellery with substance
The heavy heart pendant shown here and the keyring that matches it are made from solid silver. They are weighty, and solid and smooth and they make great gifts in that they offer a quality that stands out from much of the similar jewellery on the market today.
Some of you may remember the 80s and the dominance of the U.K. jewellery market by a certain Mr. Ratner. Ultimately he scuppered his own canoe and sunk without trace (but then bobbed up again in a completely new sector). His genius was to build jewellery so light and get his raw materials so cheap that gold jewellery was no longer something costly and of worth, but something cheap enough to be worn everyday like costume jewellery. In those days the earrings were so light that you would fear for your earlobes on a breezy day. Much of the jewellery was hollow and made of very thin sheet so that, although it looked bulky, it actually contained very little gold. I would not wish to pass judgment on this approach as it has its merits, suffice it to say that’s not what I’m about!
Jewellery has had another aspect throughout history; that of treasure. People have invested their money in jewellery for the joy of having something precious about them. Jewels have, in past times, been used as currency and people chose to set them in jewellery as a convenient way of keeping them together at the same time as displaying their beauty in a way that enhanced the appearance of the wearer. Of course it was also a good way of displaying your wealth and superiority; the equivalent, now-days, of Rolex or an expensive car.
The jewellery I produce is made to be something precious and valued. It doesn’t come out of a factory in the Far East and each ring, earring or necklace spends a good deal of time being worked, scrutinized and reworked in order to produce a piece that is of the highest quality and finish that I can achieve. With this investment of time and effort it makes sense use proper quality and quantities of material as well, so I try to build designs that are weighty and solid and feel great to handle as well as looking great in wear.
Clearly there are some constraints: With earrings, for instance, most women would like their earlobes to be in the same place when they take their earrings out at night as they were when they put them in, and most people don’t want bangles that make them feel like they’re lifting weights in the gym every time they take a sip of coffee. That said, you will find that all my work, whether gold or unusual silver jewellery, will have the look and feel of a quality piece and will be something to wear and treasure for years. I can also guarantee that you won’t find it in the bottom of your handbag one day squashed flat under the crushing weight of a pencil eraser.