Category Archives: jewellery inspiration

Earth Day-22nd April-Katrin Spranger-Aquatopia

At the heart of this year’s Earth Day is a campaign to end plastic pollution. Single use plastic has become an issue that large companies like Pret are starting to attempt to tackle. The pollution of our planet and global warming will never not be a burning issue. Conceptual artist and jeweller Katrin Spranger has taken the idea of water vessels to another level with her work which was unveiled at Collect at the Saatchi Gallery in February.

Aquatopia looks at the dangers of taking for granted the most basic ingredients for human survival, given to us by the Earth, and how we are putting ourselves in danger by squandering our resources. Spranger invites us to view water through a dystopian, yet believable, narrative of increasing demand and damage by rising population and pollution.

As an artist and jeweller, her aim to transform water into a precious material through this visual narrative of objects that highlight its scarcity is achieved by the use of electroforming. Ideas of jewellery being seen as indulgent and extravagant are played out against the materials used, with vessels that are inspired by functional pipes and plumbing. The everyday and necessary plays  against the opulent and extra in one scary and beautiful project.

This Earth Day may be about the battle against the throwaway bottle (amongst other harmful plastics that end up in our rivers and seas), but hopefully Spranger’s water vessels leave a permanent mark on our memories to try and be kinder to our planet every day.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting. You can see her work on instagram @smalltoad_jewellery

 

Narrative Jewelry by Mark Fenn-Book Review

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Narrative jewelry by Mark Fenn

Tell me about it. As anyone that has ever asked about my jewellery making knows, every piece tells a tale, even the plainest looking ring. Jewellery goes on adventures with you, reminds you of a person, holiday or the mistake you made that made it look so cool. Pieces often have their own lives that are special to the wearer, but Narrative Jewelry by Mark Fenn is a delightful investigation into the creators who set out to tell a story with their work. And we thought that today, National Handmade Day, would be a great day to share our thoughts on this fantastic book.

This hefty tome features 241 inspiring jewellers. Their comedy, politics, puns and personal lives are spun out in metal and yarn (and soap, resin, plastic, paper, models, cigarettes and gemstones) on the pages. Life-changing moments as well as the horror and beauty of the everyday are given equal importance by the memorial created in their honour. Clear colour images and accompanying descriptions tell their tales and the pieces are a broad spectrum of the most interesting jewellery out there today.

Nick Palmer’s piece was made as a theoretical commission; a task I would highly recommend. Fantasy dinner party surely can’t compare.

Not only does this beautiful book show how jewellery can skillfully be used to tell a story or do more than just be pretty, it shows a way to embrace a wide range of techniques used by skilled international jewellers. It’s the kind of book that you want to sit down and read like a novel, but the images distract you with their own little stories. It’s a great book, all of the tutors want to steal it off me when I am looking at it, I can tell. For a teaser a maker is featured online each week here.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting. You can see her work on instagram @smalltoad_jewellery

 

 

April Birthstone-Diamond-Rough or smooth it’s clearly for you

Lucky babies born in April get a diamond as their birthstone. Characteristics of determination are comparable to the origins the name Diamond, from the Greek ‘adamas’ meaning ‘unbreakable’. They really are the hardest of them all, measuring a mighty 10 on the Mohs scale.

Many wear diamonds every day in engagement rings which is great for showing off that someone wants to marry you, but these beauties were also believed to cure all kinds of illnesses, protect homes from lightning and have wondrous anti-poison powers. So worthwhile trying to tie someone down for the long haul I guess!

The first diamond engagement ring was commissioned by Archduke Maximillian of Austria in 1477 for Mary of Burgundy. De Beers secured the tradition and commercial success of the diamond for engagement rings in 1947 with its slogan ‘A Diamond is Forever’. De Beers, or companies under that umbrella organisation, control up to 80% of the world’s production and supply of diamonds at any given time.

The shape of the brilliant cut is synonymous with the diamond, this cut is what gave rise to its popularity, showing off its potential for clarity and sparkle. It only takes a piece of jewellery to be shaped this way to conjure the impression of a dazzling diamond, like this ring with a diamond silhouette by Carrie Weston.

Often considered the most precious of gemstones, a diamond sometimes gains celebrity status, not just because of who the wearer might be. These famous stones are notable because of their beauty, size or their exciting lives. The Star of Africa, the largest cut diamond of fine quality, is a ‘celebrity’ diamond that lives locally to the School at the Tower of London.

Initially only found in India, this stone gained popularity after the faceted cut was developed to reveal its true beauty, after which diamonds were mined in Brazil and later South Africa. A diamond would be a pretty good card to have when playing Gemstone Top Trumps (just checked and this doesn’t exist – gap in the market alert!) as a diamond is the only gemstone that can cut a diamond. Lasers are used to cut diamonds nowadays, but powdered diamonds are used in grinding and polishing.

Diamonds are assessed by a system called the ‘Four Cs’: colour, clarity, cut and carat weight. Diamonds with either a very strong colour or completely colourless are the most valuable, yet these rough grey diamonds in this ring by Ruth Tomlinson (above) have a beauty all of their own.

 

Anvil & Ivy rough diamond and silver wax carved ring

London Jewellery School tutor Sophie Arnott (of Anvil & Ivy) uses wax carving to achieve this organic finish with a grey diamond.

The simple clarity of a diamond can lend itself to a multitude of different design styles. As we can see here in these flashy compressed carbon rings. Erica Weiner specialises in vintage-inspired jewellery, this deco lovely and its friends are handmade in New York.

While DMD Metal does delicate deco below.

If bigger is better go for the Queen Nico ring with stunning grey diamond by Digby & Iona.

London jeweller Disa Allsopp may be inspired by the jewellery of ancient civilisations, yet her tiny rows of diamonds look modern and alternative in these unique rings.

So we’re all set for a great April. Are you? Maybe one of our courses could help you get your diamond ducks in a row.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

 

 

 

 

Student Jeweller of the Month for April – Helen Naylor

Helen Naylor

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do

I am Helen Naylor. I have a degree in English Literature and Philosophy and a PGCE in English. I have been an English teacher for the last 8 years and began learning how to make jewellery 5 years ago. I live in Manchester and have travelled extensively, taking time out to travel the world. I gather inspiration from things I have studied, seen or learnt and use these experiences to help shape and influence my jewellery.
I recently got engaged and plan on making my own bridal jewellery, using yellow diamonds.


What’s been your general career path

I started making jewellery approximately 5 years ago, going from working with a needle and thread and beads to wire work and then my true passion, working with precious metals and gemstones. After taking my diploma last year, I set up my website with an online shop and have begun to sell my jewellery in Manchester. I’m hoping to take a qualification in gemmology within the next year to continue to further my skills and knowledge, developing my business and jewellery skills further.

 

Macbeth ring, copyright Helen Naylor

When did your interest in jewellery making start?

I have always been fascinated with gemstones and wanted to learn how to make jewellery from a young age. I never thought I would have the opportunity or the time to pursue jewellery making but I decided to write a list of things I wanted to achieve in life, and top of the list was learning this skill


Which class/es did you take at the London Jewellery School and why did you choose that class?

I took the Diploma in Silver Jewellery as I felt it offered a broad range of jewellery making techniques and provided a really comprehensive study, with a focus on stone setting which is my favourite part of jewellery making.

 

What are your goals for the future?

In the future, I would like to continue developing my jewellery skills and my business. I’d love to win an award one day at the Goldsmiths’ awards and become so established that I have my own premises.

 

The Tempest ring, copyright Helen Naylor

What is your favourite piece you ever made and why?

This is a really hard choice! I think my favourite would have to be my ‘The Tempest’  ring and necklace. I adore opals and the contrast of the silver and gold together. I like my thought process around each piece in this collection and finding the perfect quote to go alongside the piece I have created. The quote that goes with ‘The Tempest’ ring is ‘I would not wish any companion in the world but you’ and when I look at this ring, I fall in love every time. The quote with this necklace is ‘The clouds methought would open, and show riches ready to drop upon me’. I used the tiny 1.5mm diamonds on the side to represent how you must be tough and hard to weather any storm in contrast to the stormy, murky depths of the boulder opal.

See more of Helen’s work here
Instagram: @hnajewellery
Would you like to be chosen as a future Student Jeweller of the Month? Click here to find out more and how to apply

 

Pencil Day -Friday 30th March

It’s pencil day! So let’s break out the lead to celebrate these sharp designs by jewellers inspired by this humble and useful staple of the stationery family. After all, they have been decorating the under-adorned top-of-ear spaces since their creation, even if we have been pretending this was just for on body storage purposes.

To ‘pencil in’ may be a term for a noncommittal arrangement. But with this golden pencil bangle, the use of precious metal and coral, gives shimmering weight to anyone’s intentions.

Gold and coral pencil bangle by Noma Copley

Jo McAllister brings us a warm spectrum with this selection of colour pencils in a miniature tin in her piece ‘Colouring’.

I love it when creativity can be facilitated on the move, so it seems, stationery doesn’t have to be stationary after all.  And when it looks this good at the same time, it’s enough to draw the attention of the long-departed beautilitarian William Morris, who famously stated ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’ – the same rule of thumb would bode well with what we put on our bodies.

Mini pencil tin ring by Jo McAllister

A colourful array of sliced-through pencils makes for a satisfying interlocking cross-section of brights in this bangle. Highlighting the pencil’s natural ability for tessellation to bring out colour in an unexpected way.

Bangle by Maria Cristina Belucci

More to the point, the pen might be mightier than the sword, but let’s not get in a fight about it on pencil day! All materials are fair game to the jeweller, yet 2B or not 2B is always the question.

Wax carved jewellery inspiration

We are LOVING wax carved jewellery at the moment but what can you make when you’ve mastered the technique? Here is some inspiration from our talented tutors and students to get you thinking.

(And here is a blog post from our own Lil Adams on what wax carving is and how casting works in case you’re not sure)

Rough-ruby-silver-ring-Anvil-and-Ivy-Sophie-Arnott

Rough ruby silver ring by Sophie Arnott

gold-pearl-ring-rebecca-steiner

Gold pearl ring by Rebecca Steiner

Silver-pendant-Sophie-Arnott

Silver pendant by Sophie Arnott

Gold-rings-rebecca-steiner

Gold rings by Rebecca Steiner

 

knuckle-duster-ring-by-natasha-lisa-afrodeco

Knuckle duster ring by Natasha Lisa

 

rose-gold-ring-jmhandcraftedjewellery

Rose gold ring by Jayne Murphy

silver-cufflinks-by-natasha-lisa-afrodeco

Silver cufflinks by Natasha Lisa

Silver-ring-sophie-arnott

Silver ring by Sophie Arnott

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Silver ring by Jayne Murphy

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George the lion ring in progress! By Lil Adams

Note: for inspiration only. The jewellery designs shown here are copyrighted by the designers


Fancy giving wax carving a try? We have some classes at the London Jewellery School and online at Jewellery School Online. We also have a kit of tools available to make it easy to get started.

In London

We have lots of wax carving classes at the London Jewellery School for beginners and advanced learners including an evening taster classa five-week evening class and day classes so do check out our courses and available dates on our website.

Online courses

We have a FREE wax carved ring making online course with tutor Sophie Arnott. You will learn to apply your designs to your wax piece, remove excess wax and create a full 3D design of your choosing. Following that, Sophie will show you how to file your wax piece into shape, remove any file marks and sand and refine the piece ready for casting. You will also learn how to create a ring to size and some recommendations on casters to use.

beginners-wax-carving-rebecca-steiner-jewellery-school-onlineIf you enjoy that course then consider our more comprehensive beginners wax carving online course which covers ring making, pendant making. The course launches on 26th March 2018 and is currently available at a pre-sale price of 50% off. CLICK HERE FOR 50% OFF – VALID UNTIL 26TH MARCH 2018 ONLY. THAT’S TOMORROW!

 

 

 

wax-carving-kit-london-jewellery-schoolKits

At the London Jewellery School we are also selling wax carving toolkits which have everything you need to get started! The cost is £100 and includes UK postage (for postage outside the UK please email us at info@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk for a postage quote)

Click here to see what you get in the kit and to purchase

We also have a set of three wax ring blanks for sale for £12.99 plus postage, perfect if you want to get started with rings straight away!

 

All prices are correct at time of blog publication but please note that they are subject to change

Jewel Day-All that glitters

Often in life it’s the genuine article, the purest and most natural, which we value most. All gemstones have a special month to shine, see ‘Birthstones’. So it’s worth exploring the joys of the unreal, underappreciated or synthetic of the jewellery world on Jewel day.

 

Let’s first take a look at the useful, synthetic, Cubic Zirconia (aka CZ). CZ may not be the product of the forces of nature but it’s no fake and has much to recommend it for use in jewellery making. Low cost, durable and flawless, these faceted beauts can be made in many colours. And Cubic Zirconia is up there with diamond in strength, measuring 8 ½ to a diamond’s 10 on the Mohs* scale.

Next, let’s turn our starry-eyed attention to the Druzy. Druzy is a crystal coating on top of a colourful mineral. These crystals can vary in size and are commonly found on quartz, but also garnet, calcite, malachite and dolomite. Usually found where rocks have contact with water that can evaporate, the crystal finish is the last layer of growth. These are naturally occurring gems, but they have the tendency to look manufactured due to the overly glittery appearance of the crystals and that the stones can be coloured. London Jewellery School tutor Amy Keeper often utilises Druzy stones in her work.

Jeweller Nikki Couppee experiments with different combinations of synthetic materials and resins in the making of her flamboyant hologem pieces. She uses everyday materials like silver foil to replicate the appearance and lustre of gemstones with an astonishing variety of results.

Couppee’s work may be shiny and pretty on the surface but its meanings run deep and reflect on themes of jewellery’s role in society and the psychology behind adornment. Her early jewellery making experiments were products of a hurricane that destroyed the area of Florida where she lived in. Leaving a plethora of materials broken from the houses that were swept away, young Couppee would create jewellery from these pieces built up like mosaics. It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. Also (unrelated), some of her pieces glow in the dark!

Whether your gems be real or fake, we have a number of courses that can inspire you to shine with them.

*Moh’s scale is named after Frederick Moh who invented a scale for hardness based on the ability for minerals to scratch each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Book Day-1st March

Never judge a book by its cover they say and certainly not on World Book Day. And especially when investigating the work of Jeremy May. Here, beneath what is bound,  a ring, a bangle or a necklace could be found.

May uses a top-secret lamination technique to create bespoke pieces from a bookkeeping the original binding as a beautiful box too. You could probably still get the gist of the story reading around one of his luxury adornments.

Here’s a nice little video about his process and you don’t have to read between the lines for the booky puns.

If this inspires you to pick up a book, your tools or take back your library books have a wonderful World Book Day.

Pantone Colour of 2018-Ultra Violet-will purple reign again?

Said to communicate originality and visionary thinking towards the future, Ultra-Violet makes a welcome entrance to kick start 2018- a bit of forward thinking is just what we need. Take a look at how these jewellers have also taken to this shade to inspire your own creations this year.

Jewellers have many a purple shade of stone they can turn to in celebration of this announcement from Pantone, such as types of Sapphire, Tanzanite, Tourmaline and of course Amethyst. Though there are many who have favoured alternative materials to celebrate the colour purple too.

Tara Locklear uses materials away from their natural environment to create bright and beautiful pieces. Her work often exposes the colourful layers of recycled skateboard decks in her bold pieces, as with this cheeky pair of earrings.

Here we see a paler shade of concrete tinged with gold for a neckpiece of intriguing forms.

All colours seem to naturally resonate with Britta Boeckmann’s work in wood and resin including including this bold shade.

 

You might feel you want to go all out with Ultra Violet this year, change your world, paint a feature wall. Or you could take a splodge from Xenia Walschikow’s palette and put your paint to a portable decorative use.  These experiments in the colour of the moment are the makings of what will become statement neckpieces and bold gestural earrings.

Our pal purple pops up again to offset these strong, yet light and flexible neck art pieces by Walschikow.

There is always room to ‘kick it old skool’ with a twist when working with a strong colour. As we see with this pink topaz in its unusual contrasting yellow lozenge setting.

Whatever medium you favour in your making, maybe try letting in some purple tones to guide your future this year with Ultra Violet.

January Birthstones-Garnet-Give me strength

Weary or rested from celebrating or resting over the December break, January may feel like a rough month to have a birthday. But these January folks are not down-hearted. They are ambitious leaders, who love to learn new things and take living seriously. They also have a cracking birthstone in garnet to back them up, thought to bring strength, good health and prosperity.

This beautiful rock can be found in many colours but most commonly in the red of almandine and pyrope garnets. Iron and magnesium cause the colour differences in these stones.

Garnet has been used in digit decoration from Romans times, with these simple styles still holding their own in contemporary adornment as we see here in this mercury ring by Astley Clarke.

It is thought that the name garnet derives from the Latin for pomegranate ‘granatum’, due to the similarities of colour of the fruity innards. This is a possibility explored in detail by ‘Winged Lion‘ jeweller Sergey Zhiboedov with their garnet pomegranate pieces.

 

Another fruity offering comes from Alison Maclead with this ring that suggests a cluster of berries or grapes.

 

London Jewellery School tutor Helen Walls often illustrates the point that a single gem against silver is a winning combination and proves this again with a simple blood-red garnet droplet from a textured hoop.

So if it’s a little or a lot of your birthstone you wish to pin down to your crown. Have no fear to start the year, take the lead and get some inspiration in one of our classes.