contemporary jewellery

The Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship & Design Awards

Every February a special event is held at the Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, which is noted in the diary of every jeweller and metalsmith: The Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship & Design Awards. These prestigious awards are also called “The Jewellery Oscars” within the trade and are a celebration of all things metal; from the design to the finish piece, and all the processes in between.

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This year’s award has been especially close to our hearts because it was the year that Paul was invited to be a judge. It was a great honour, and I for one was very proud that Paul was asked.

In January Paul travelled up to London, to the Goldsmiths’ Centre, to look through this year’s entries along with his fellow judges. It was so interesting to see the awards from the inside because up until then we had only ever experienced them from the outside as entrants. I have always wondered how the awards were chosen so it was fascinating to hear about Paul’s experience…

Paul was judging the 3D Finished Pieces: Silversmiths, which included some impressive work. Each piece was laid out in one room for the judges to study and determine which, if any, were worthy of the award. All of the pieces were anonymous and the judges had to ask questions if they wanted to confirm any of the manufacturing details. The entries showed a variety of skills, including chasing, raising and box making. After a few hours of deliberation, the pieces that were to be given the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards were chosen. All that was left to do was to wait for the ceremony (which took place on Monday).

The awards are testament to the hours of hard work that go in to every design, every piece of jewellery or objet d’art, every stone that is set and every panel that is enamelled. The incredible skill that is evident within our trade always amazes me and the fact that I am a part of it makes me very proud. Every year I think about entering the competition again (it has been quite a few years), to see if I can win another award for one of my designs, and I know that Paul feels the same after his monumental win of the prestigious Jacques Cartier Memorial Award in 2009. (You can read more about Paul’s impressive, award winning model by clicking here.)

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Along with the usual award categories there are also special presentations which are given at the discretion of the Goldsmiths’ Council for their high standard of design or craftsmanship. The Jacques Cartier Award is one of these, another is the Goldsmiths’ Company Award, which this year was presented to the very talented John Moore (one of our lovely jewellers on display here at Varoshe). John’s incredible ‘Lacewing Verto Necklace’, is typical of his beautifully fluid and engineered style. His designs are stunning and I couldn’t be more proud to show his work in our little gallery!

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With Paul judging and John winning his very well deserved award, it has relit a spark in me, so much so that maybe 2020 will be the year that I enter the competition again…

If you want to read more about this year’s winners, then take a look at the 2019 brochure of the awards by clicking here

As always if you have any jewellery related questions please do get in touch, we are only too happy to try and help. You can find out how to contact us here.

Looking forward to seeing you in West Malling soon.

Clare X

2018 ~ what a year !

2019; how did that happen?! If you’re anything like me you still think of the millennium as only a few years ago, so it doesn’t quite compute that we are only a year away from the (roaring) twenty- twenties!

2018 has certainly been a bit of a whirlwind. This time last year I was writing a ‘2018 round-up’ blog post, detailing the restoration project, when sitting in our finished shop still felt like an age away. Now, eight months on from our grand opening I can’t remember what our lives were like before Varoshe. Don’t get me wrong it has definitely had its challenges, but the whole experience of starting our business has been incredible and well worth any sleepless nights that may have been involved.

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The last year has been a year filled with a lot of firsts; our first jeweller collaboration, our first Varoshe customer and our first Varoshe commission, but as the months rolled on we started to get in to the swing of things and our ‘first’ soon became our second, third, fourth…

We now display the work of fourteen independent jewellers and small businesses in our showroom, with more to join us in 2019. It has been a lovely experience to champion the people behind the jewellery, to shine a light on some of the incredibly talented designer/makers out there, and get to know them personally. By showcasing this type of jewellery we are not only helping to promote these creative people, but it means we can offer our customers something a little different, something a little special, something made with love and soul.

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The other side of our business is the bespoke design, and we have been overwhelmed by the customers who have trusted us to undertake the most sentimental of commissions.  We have remounted some inherited stones in to a new suite of jewellery, made engagement rings, ‘birth of a child’ presents, and even bereavement jewellery.

The stories that we have poured in to our customer’s jewellery this year have been beautiful, happy and sad, and have been such a privilege to be a part of. I always feel that the journey starts as customer and designer/ jeweller and ends as so much more; I don’t think you can share that sort of experience without building a relationship and that is why I love what we do.

With our first Christmas under our belts, we are looking forward to the year ahead. I am sure I will write many more blog post like this one, looking back at the year that was, and although I know that each will be incredible and exciting in its own right,  2018 will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the year that Varoshe was born and our dream became a reality.

Thank you to each and every one of you for making our first eight months so memorable!

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Looking forward to seeing you in West Malling soon.

 Clare X

Spotlight ~ a look at our designers

I am often asked if we make everything that is on display in our showroom. I guess it is an obvious question, but my answer is always the same, “No, but let me tell you why…”

I am a jewellery designer, a fact I am very proud of, and I can interpret your ideas in to that perfect piece of jewellery for you, BUT, I also have my own style, my own way of working and my own ideas of what makes jewellery beautiful. This is the style and aesthetic that I pull from when I design a collection for the shop or for myself and it may not suit everyone. So, owning a jewellers, how do we get around this? We showcase work from other designer/makers! It’s simple really, not only are we able to show different styles, and price points, but we can also champion the work of other jewellers. Those people that love their craft as much as we do!

With this in mind, I thought I would write about two of our designers to show you why I wanted to show their beautiful work in our showroom. (You can see a full list of all our jewellers by clicking here, although I am sure to share another Spotlight post on the blog in the coming months.)

ALICE BARNES

I first came across Alice on Instagram (I just love IG for looking at jewellery and making connections), and after several chats and double-taps we finally met up in at a London trade fair. I just love her style of work, and actually own a pair of earrings myself, so I knew I wanted to showcase her jewellery at Varoshe.

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Alice’s work is beautifully soft with its satin finish and ‘folded’ design; it really is lovely when the light hits it. Her collections are influenced by folded paper art, which is clear to see, especially in the paper plane design, which is just perfect for your first anniversary! (HINT: it’s paper!)

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"My collections originate from a playful exercise in which I limited my materials to small squares of silver sheet. By carefully piercing, forming and sometimes combining squares, I realised that just as in origami there were endless possibilities… My latest collection ‘Pleated’ continues to be inspired by paper, but to get the sharp folds and weighty quality I wanted to achieve, I decided to turn to wax carving and the ancient lost wax process. I carefully hand carve each section front and back to create elegant pieces with a touch of art deco sophistication.” – Alice Barnes

 

JOHN MOORE

John has been with us since the beginning. His work always receives stacks of attention and is definitely a showstopper collection. If you’ve been passed the shop in the last six months, you will definitely have seen his jewellery, you just can’t miss it!

We have two collections of John’s work here at Varoshe; Flight and Elytra. Both are predominantly made of anodised aluminium, which John dyes in different ways, depending on the collection…

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The Flight designs are especially eye catching, as they are dyed in layers to create the distinctive texturing of colours. The more you look at each piece the more you discover, and no two pieces are the same. Even the back of each ‘feather’ is coloured differently, giving a wonderful surprise element when viewed from behind.

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Elytra is made up of over lapping shapes to create a beautiful sense of movement. The individual ‘wings’ are made from sheets of aluminium, which is repeatedly dipped into baths of dye to create seamless, graduated colour. These sheets are then cut out, finished and formed by hand. The true beauty of the collection is that each piece is reversible, giving you a number of ways to wear it, depending on your mood.

 “Beyond the limits of traditional jewellery there is a world of possibility for self-expression.” – John Moore

I love all of our designer’s jewellery collections, but for very different reasons. Whether it is the feminine elegance of Jacks Turner’s work, or the unusual, playful designs by Cara Tonkin, they are all so contrasting in style that it will be hard not to find something that you like, and that’s the point! By showcasing our jewellery alongside that of other makers there is bound to be something to catch your eye.

If you would like to read more about our designers, you can do so here.

Hope to see in West Malling soon.

Clare X