Sunday, 7 May 2017

Something Old, Something New

It's not often I find myself coveting modern jewellery; aside from obviously preferring the aesthetics of antique/vintage jewellery, I just feel like if I'm going to spend money on something, I'd rather buy something with history and that is somewhat exclusive (I don't think I've covered a contemporary designer since I posted about Muriel Grateau, eight years ago). Two jewellers have recently compelled me to share their work though- both come from a background in sculpture, and both create pieces that whilst modern, exude a hint of history. 

Joy Bonfield Colombara, in her 'Fragments' series, isolates and deconstructs classical sculpture, with jaw-dropping results. I cannot get over how good the rings are, exploded and presented frame-by-frame.   

From another collection, I admire the use of hallmarks in the 'London Signet' ring, taking something usually hidden and more of an afterthought and making it the main design element. In Joy's own words, the signet ring traditionally served as a "3-d signature", used in conjunction with wax to seal and sign letters. Surmounting a boxy signet ring, Joy has used hallmarks as a statement of her own identity, including the leopards head hallmark corresponding to the city of London, her initials, and the lion passant guardant and 925 hallmarks to indicate silver quality.

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✤ In a similar vein, the work of Gabriella Kiss also possesses a touch of the sculptural and antiquated; the use of anatomically correct fauna (or you know, actual stuffed dead animals) has always struck me as particularly Victorian, and the hand motif has long been used in jewellery. Her sleeping bird earrings harbour a surprise pearl within their feathered folds, exhibiting a surreal yet reserved quality, as also seen in the dripping hands earrings. 

Kiss also creates pieces which isolate facial features - a nose, or ear for example. My favourites focus on the eye, as they are reminiscent of Georgian love token miniatures, where painted eyes were mounted in rings and brooches. The bands are inscribed with Latin mottoes, adding another subtle touch of history.  

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✤ Honourable mention goes to fellow LCF graduate Qian Yang of YQY Jewellery, who has seemingly moved onto rather different designs now, but whose graduate collection was so, so good (if a little unwearable). The 'Ceramic Repair' collection features pieces inspired by the Japanese practice of kintsugi, whereby ceramics are repaired using gold, leaving golden traces of breakage and repair as evidence of an objects history. Who doesn't want massive porcelain dolls enhanced with gold on their fingers? 

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