Jewellery is a unique area of design. Pieces are at once architectural and sculptural, domestic and performative, functional and symbolic, and uniquely engaged in an intimate relationship with the shape and movement of the body.
Contemporary jewellery design is, in part, about transposing and reimagining traditions and symbols of conventional value. Though many manufacturing processes remain unchanged (lost-wax casting, stone-setting, enamelling), innovative approaches to composition, materials, and techniques have made contemporary jewellery-making an especially exciting chapter in an ancient story.
The artists featured below draw on a huge range of sources—the natural world, Victoriana, objet trouvé, politics, memory, the built environment—to inspire their designs. Each designer-maker demonstrates a unique compositional conviction, and a masterful ability to create precious, emotive, wearable art. Scroll to learn more…!
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Carly’s interest in ‘inventive surfaces’ is clear from her résumé, which features couture tambour beading and Jacobean crewelwork as specific areas of experience. Her signature eye earrings incorporate luxe goldwork embroidery, beading, and freshwater pearls.
Datter Industries by Kaye Blegvad
Process is a valuable design element for Kaye. The marks of hand-manufacturing give her pieces a curiously ancient feel; gold rings bearing clasped hands and naïve wheat motifs look as though they might have been discovered in a ploughed field, pressed with earth.
Anna is interested in jewellery as a token-like class of objects that links landscapes, events, and memory. Her work communicates a unique idea of form and mass. In some pieces, solid surfaces are pierced with holes; in others, structure is created from fine latticed metal.
Danni has chosen a material more commonly used to make buttons, card cases, and decorative inlays, and given it a non-traditional, structural role in her pieces. Pearl is notoriously brittle; Danni’s work demonstrates real craftsmanship and a commitment to innovation.
Grainne’s pieces are a natural expression of her life-long love of collecting and curating pocketable treasures. The components of her signature statement earrings range from cameos and gems, to shells and small tokens, each object enclosed in its own bespoke setting.
Holly creates her pieces by painting and layering eco-resin to create 3D shapes which can be set like gems. Influenced by artists such as Monet and Klimt, her mark-making is showcased as a focal point in final works. Holly is a graduate of the Birmingham School of Jewellery.
Inspired by traditions of ‘ancient adornment’, Ruth’s modern-day amulets celebrate the resonant histories and landscapes of the British Isles. Designs include the Long Man of Wilmington, the Cerne Abbas Giant, henges, hag stones, and stylised astrological motifs.
Sarah’s work is a decidedly Scottish affair; pieces are made on the Isle of Islay and hallmarked in Edinburgh. Her seaweed ribbon rings are carved in wax then cast in 9ct gold. Other pieces draw inspiration from the shapes and textures of coral, and seafoam.
Theatrical, dioramic pieces inspired in part by folk and fairy tales. Peering faces, golden suns, snowy forests – all feature in Rachel’s uniquely strange, evocative, and slightly macabre designs. Rachel’s creative output also encompasses automata and figurative sculptures.
Hee-ang’s brooches clearly draw inspiration from organic structures—fungi, lichen, plants—whilst also embracing an expressive, sculptural surrealism. Detailed surfaces are created by packing thousands of individually shaped slivers of coloured polymer clay.
Pieces are inspired by ‘found plant parts’—rosemary needles, tomato seeds, cactus hide—collected in Greece and Mexico. Heavily textured, expressive, and robust, each piece is designed and made by hand in a studio on the lively Columbia Road in East London.
Victoria uses the lost-wax casting method to recreate buds, seed pods, and evergreen sprigs in silver and gold. Some pieces are set with stones; others look as though they’ve only just been collected on a woodland walk. View Victoria’s botanical collection here.
Jana’s work explores the encroachment of Communism on the intimate, porous world of her childhood. Inspiration is drawn from memories, old family photographs, postcards, and newspapers, as well as the lives and voices of memorial women.
Carmen’s bracelets are made on a loom using tiny Japanese Miyuki beads (famous for their quality and uniformity). Patterns are geometric, colours carefully curated; the final products are certainly contemporary, but call back to the rhythms of ancient pattern-making.
Lucy takes her inspiration from the wildness and fragility of the natural environment. Hammered metal recalls weathered moorland stone; ‘spurs’ of gold and silver imitate lichen growing on branches and boundary walls. Contemporary pieces with real sensitivity.
Louise has the sensibility of a sculptor, foregrounding form, movement, and flow in her work. Pieces are initially shaped in wax then cast in metal; rings in the ‘Inferno’ series (pictured) showcase ecstatic formations of textured, twisting, coiling gold.
Egyptian cosmetic spoons, Russian spinning wheels, Indian carvings – all provide inspiration for Irina’s strange, talismanic pieces. Works are created using an eclectic range of materials—brass, wood, copper, plexiglass, steel, epoxy resin—and have a unique, resonant tactility.
Rubinski Works by Madison Rae Holler
Madison’s fine beadwork blends colours, patterns, and motifs drawn from both sides of her Anishinaabe (Native North American) and Scandinavian heritage. Pieces are rich in colour, symbolism, and a resonant, narrative geometry.
‘Kinetic’ botanical lockets. Victoria’s dynamic pendants are cleverly engineered to open (and close) their petals just like their real counterparts. Designs include daisies, peonies, poppies, tulips, roses, and sunflowers. View Victoria’s tulip locket in bloom.
Images used with the artists’ permission
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✸ COMING SOON: Ceramics, Printmakers part 2, Artist Spotlight…