unusual jewellery

Silver & gold jewellery; what are the rules for mismatching colours?

I have heard the same sort of sentence a few times recently; “I love that, but I only wear silver” or “I was given a silver necklace which I love but I can’t wear it because it won’t go with all my gold jewellery”. It got me thinking, firstly, who says you can’t mix and match metals, and secondly, why restrict yourself to what you can and can’t like? The only one who is making these rules is you and as more and more people start to look at what suits their skin tone, rather than what we are ‘supposed’ to be wearing, the options suddenly open up and you are no longer restricted by what the fashion industry says is in vogue!

A few years ago I couldn’t have given away a yellow or rose gold wedding ring, but now I can honestly say that the split is about 50/50 between white metals and coloured metals. Sometimes we are even asked to make a coloured gold wedding ring to go with a white gold engagement ring, which is a sure sign that the rule book has well and truly been thrown out of the window!

Just for a minute have a think about how many times you have changed your hair or clothes style over the years. It would be completely ridiculous to wear exactly the same style all the way through your life, but for some reason people think they have to do this with their jewellery, regardless of whether they still like it or not. It has always puzzled me, and as someone who mixes my metals (I generally wear a silver ring on one hand, a yellow gold ring on the other, and a white and rose gold bangle every day) I would hate the thought of feeling restricted by what jewellery I can wear.

The beauty of so much jewellery nowadays is that you don’t have to choose, the designer makes the decision for you by using different colours in a single piece…

But what if (as I was told on Sunday) you were given a gold pendant and chain and you only wear silver coloured jewellery? The first option could be to plate it with rhodium. Rhodium is part of the platinum family and would make the piece look like white gold like the rest of your jewellery. But, the second option could be as simple as changing the chain for a white gold or silver one and keeping the pendant yellow gold. Suddenly you are incorporating your silver jewellery but adding a splash of colour with the gold. As you begin to wear more and more ‘mismatched’ jewellery, suddenly it just becomes ‘your jewellery’ and not the forgotten pieces at the bottom of your jewellery box which are loved but don’t quite go with anything else…

Do you have pieces of jewellery that are the wrong colour? Can a chain be changed or a setting be plated to start your mismatched jewellery collection? If you have pieces that you love but don’t quite ‘fit’, then why not bring them in to us to see how we can make them become your next favourite piece of jewellery!

As always, if you have any jewellery questions then please do get in touch, we are only too happy to try and help.

I hope to see you in West Malling soon.

Clare X

 

Memorial Jewellery: pour your story in to your jewellery

Jewellery is often bought or commissioned to mark life’s happy milestones; a wedding, a birthday or an anniversary, but what about those moments that are not so happy, the difficult times in our lives which define who we are?

I’ve said it before, but I am an incredibly empathic person. (I’ve been known to cry at adverts! Do you remember the Yellow Pages one, J. R.Hartley, or am I just giving away my age…?) I have always loved to help people and often a design consultation ends up being more of a counselling session, as I listen to the stories that have led a person to our door. I find it hard to stay detached when someone lets me in to their most private moments, and always feel privileged that someone would trust me enough to share their stories.

You may not want to share your story and that’s fine, what is important is that you feel that the space we have created is safe enough for you to share if you want to.

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So what is memorial jewellery? Usually it is jewellery that commemorates a person who has died, but it can stand for whatever you want it to; the end of a relationship, overcoming an illness, or the start of a new chapter in your life.  Sometimes you just need something physical as a reminder. We have also been told by more than one person that the process of having something made or redesigned has a sort of healing effect. By encapsulating your thoughts and feelings in to a physical thing means that they no longer have to fill your head space as much.

But, what if you don’t know what you want to have made? Firstly, don’t worry, that is what we’re here for. The biggest step is starting the conversation, to see if you like the way we work and if you trust us to make this precious commission. It can be anything you want it to be; a ring made out of your Dad’s bracelet, earrings set with stones from your grandmother’s brooch, a pendant made to hold some ashes/a lock of hair, or even just a simple band ring. You know what it stands for and that’s all that matters. What is definite is that it will be unique to you, just like your experiences.

“You are unique, your jewellery should be too!”

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If you would like to read more about having something made at Varoshe then you can read our blog posts ‘How can I have something bespoke made?’, ‘Why should I have something bespoke made?’ or ‘A Case Study: Rob & Valeries engagement ring’

Still unsure? Feel free to get in touch, we are only too happy to answer any questions you might have.

I hope to see you in West Malling soon.

 Clare X

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