May 31, 2010

Jace Wong's A Winner

Adorn London recently ran a competition in which the prize was a copy of my book. The lucky winner was Jayce Wong who – as it happens – is a pretty hot jeweller herself.

With a Masters Degree in Jewellery Design from Central Saint Martins and heavyweight qualifications from the Gemmological Institute of America, it comes as no surprise to learn that Jayce has a vested interest in the gems she works into her jewellery. Her latest collection, A New Stone Age, explores the fluorescent properties of gems which lead to some very special effects when viewed under UV light. So with festival season upon us there's no better time for disco divas everywhere to ditch the glowstick bangles in favour of a Jayce Wong dancefloor dazzler.

Black rhodium plated 14k white gold rings featuring a variety of pave set gemstones. Can also be worn individually.

Yellow gold-plated silver cocktail ring featuring an oval cut rutilated quartz stone, brown diamonds and blue sapphires.

Jayce’s jewellery is available from Kabiri.

May 26, 2010

Scott Wilson & bros

Bibelotphile fave, Scott Wilson, has designed a capsule line of jewellery for men called Scott Wilson & bros. Here's a sneak preview of his U-shape Catch Necklace which is made of cast silver and comes in two different finishes: 22k gold and white rhodium, or all-black rhodium. More as it comes...

May 25, 2010

Boys In Jewels - Part 2

Jewellery for boys is IMHO a much underrated accessory. I think these photos of a chap sporting Casely-Hayford's AW2010 fashion collection, A Darker Shade of Black, prove the point. The jewellery is by Tessa Edwards.

Photos by Katinka Herbert, courtesy of Dazed Digital

May 20, 2010

Cabinet of Curiosities

When it comes to designer fashion jewellery and accessories, Valery Demure is inarguably London's leading agent. Over the years her roster of clients has included the likes of Florian, Naomi Filmer, Husam el Odeh, Scott Wilson and Alexis Mabille to name a few. It was through writing press releases for Valery back in the day that I got to know many of the jewellers who went on to feature in my book.

With her distinctive aesthetic tastes (erring on the dark side), and somewhat fearsome reputation Valery is the go to woman for buyers and press on the hunt for something with a bit of bite.

Val's latest venture is a cabinet which can be found in the basement* of Liberty – a shop that has, in recent years, done much to showcase contemporary fashion jewellery.

The designers selected to show their AW2010 wares have got both mens’ and womens’ jewellery covered and whilst I don’t, as yet, have images of the pieces at Liberty, what follows gives a flavour of their various styles.**

From top...
Scott Wilson Faceted Ring
Scott Wilson Necklace
Scott Wilson Necklace
Scott Wilson Bangle With Mixed Shapes
Scott Wilson Reducing Ring Bracelet
Tobias Wistisen Naked Lunch Half Bangle
Tobias Wistisen Thorn Necklace
Alyssa Norton
Alyssa Norton
Eddie Borgo Bullseye Cone Rings
Eddie Borgo Horror Brooch
Eddie Borgo Pave Bear Trap Bangles
Mouton Collet
Mouton Collet

* Having made the pilgrimage to Liberty at the weekend, I can report that the cabinet is in the Menswear department, which is technically the basement, but with a more appealing title.

**The jewellery on show is specifically for the lads. Ladies need not apply.

May 18, 2010

Delfina Delettrez

The Nowness website currently features a story about Delfina Delettrez which made me realise I've yet to run my own post on this Italian designer who features in my book.

If there's such a thing as fashion royalty, Delfina is it. Not only is she a 4th generation member of the Fendi dynasty (her mum, Silvia Venturini Fendi, is the brand's accessories director), her dad is the famed French jeweller, Bertrand Delettrez.

Delfina's new My World collection was inspired by the Mayan calendar. Check out the gold 'Hand' bracelet grabbing her wrist by clicking on the top snap.

Photos by Dan Tobin Smith, courtesy of Nowness

A few Delfina facts:

• Delfina decided she wanted to be a jeweller when she discovered a red sapphire among her father’s precious stones and he set it in a ring for her: ‘It was a simple ring but it was very significant to me,’ she says. ‘It was the first ring I ever had.’

• Drawn to all things otherworldly Delettrez channels a fascination with magic and mysticism into her work. Her collections are notable for their enameled and bejeweled frogs, skulls, crowns, flowers, fierce animals and poisonous insects.

• When Delfina launched her debut collection at Colette in 2007, she commissioned her friend, the actress Asia Argento, to write and direct a short film called Delfinasia. The movie featured a heavily pregnant Delettrez and her younger sister at La Canonica – the rural family home that inspires much of her work.

• In 2008 Delettrez opened her first boutique in Rome, in what had previously been an ancient pharmacy. When it came to the decor she plumped for absinthe green accents in order to give her shop the appearance of a witch's house, 'as a tribute to the herbs, tonics and poisons that were once sold there’.

• Her logo – a crescent moon and five stars forming a D – was originally designed by Karl Lagerfeld for her father in the 1980s.

• Delettrez's pieces are all handmade by artisans who use antique jewellery techniques and whose workshops can be found in the streets around her boutique.

Some bibelots from Delfina's previous collections...

May 17, 2010

By George!

The BBC are having an '80s revival at the moment so it was phones off and pizzas in for guilty tv pleasures aplenty this weekend. Top Gun on Saturday was pure testosterone with Tom Cruise variously flexing his buns in little white pants/rocking ray bans in a night club/sweatily boshing a volleyball at an oiled up Val Kilmer/shooting his missiles at sonofabitch Mig fighter pilots. People who claim there's a homoerotic subtext here don't know what they're talking about.

Last night, no subtext was needed for Worried About The Boy - a biopic about Boy George that focused on his pre-fame ambitions, his mid-80s descent into drug-n-fame hell and – most of all – his ability to seduce straight men.

In homage, here's a little snippet from my book in which dandy jeweller, and fellow Blitz Kid, Judy Blame, talks about the day he lent George some jewels for a TV appearance:

In his autobiography, ‘Take It Like A Man,’ Boy George wrote of my jewellery: 'I picked out several pieces of garish gold neck jewellery and a pair of razzle-dazzle earrings. Five minutes before we went on air I still couldn't decide what necklace to wear so I wore them all. It was the campest thing you've ever seen in your life!'

Collage courtesy of Judy Blame

May 16, 2010

Backes & Strauss

Last week I went to view the new Backes & Strauss fine jewellery and watch collections at the company’s all-black, very-difficult-to-find, London HQ.

Whilst I appreciate the phenomenal amount of work that goes into crafting them, diamond-encrusted time-pieces are not my thing. History and backstories however are, so this was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the company's first jewellery collection since 1870, and (best of all) to leaf through leather bound order ledgers dating back to the early 1800s.

The new jewellery collection comprises 2 lines

The Crown Collection, so named after the Crown Jewel detail on B&S luxury watches.*

The Victoria Collection which features designs inspired by those found in the company’s 19th Century catalogues and design archives.

Black Enamel Cocktail Ring from the Crown Collection features a central Round Brilliant Cut Ideal Hearts & Arrows diamond weighing 5.65 carats

Tapered Cross Earrings from the Victoria Collection

The Backes & Strauss signature Ostrich Cuff in white gold and ostrich skin

A cocktail ring from the Black Enamel line, part of the Crown Collection

Solar Star Pendant from the Victoria Collection

Backes & Strauss Fact File

•Founded in 1789, Backes & Strauss is the oldest diamond company in the world.

•The B&S company logo – a running ostrich – was chosen because the word Strauß is German for ostrich. I couldn’t find this info anywhere online so this could very well be a coup for The Bibelotphile.

•All B&S stones are cut to achieve the Hearts and Arrows effect (see earlier post for more on this phenomenon).

•It takes a month to decide how to cut a B&S diamond, and a further 2 months to hand polish it.

•Almost 50% of the rough diamond is lost in achieving a perfectly polished B&S diamond.

•Every B&S watch boasts at least one diamond set into its crown (or winder). It’s called the Backes & Strauss Crown Jewel.*

•I was hoping the B&S goodie bag would contain something shiny and hard. No such luck, but the smelly candle was jolly nice.

She Wears It Well

Unable to decide which bit of jewellery to wear, model Natasha Poly sticks it all on in this oldie-but-goodie from back in the day.

Taken from iD Magazine, The Piracy Issue, Oct 2008
Photography by Emma Summerton

Diamonds Made Clear

As a kid I really wanted to be a geologist. Those career aspirations eventually gave way to (shortlived) dreams of being a tadpole but not before I’d amassed a collection of fossils, rocks and minerals to rival that of the Natural History Museum. The collection still exists at my ever-patient parents’ place, and my fascination with the tecchy side of gemology remains. I’ve been doing a bit of research on diamonds so here’s some fun facts…

Shape – Refers to the general outward appearance of a diamond. Popular shapes include Round, Princess, Emerald, Marquise, Oval, Pear, Radiant, Asscher and Heart.

Cut – Refers to the diamond's reflective qualities which are in turn down to the symmetry, proportioning and polish of its facets. There are 3 types of diamond cut: Brilliant, Step and Mixed.

Crown – The top portion of a diamond extending from the girdle to the table.

Pavilion – The lower portion of the diamond, below the girdle. The relationship between the crown angle and the pavilion angle has the greatest effect on the look of the diamond.

Girdle – The narrow band around the widest part of a diamond that separates the crown from the pavilion.

Table – The large, flat top facet of a diamond.

Culet – A flat face on the bottom of the pavilion. Although optional culets are common on modern brilliant cut diamonds.

Depth – The height of a gemstone from the culet to the table.

Fire – Flashes of colour that are a function of a diamond’s dispersive qualities, i.e. its ability to split white light into its component spectral colours. A diamond's fire is determined by the crown height and angle, and the size and number of facets that compose it.

Brilliance – The amount of white light reflected back to the viewer. Like fire, a diamond’s brilliance is only apparent after cutting.

The Round Brilliant and the evolution of the Ideal Cut

Although the history of diamond cutting can be traced back to the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until the development of better diamond saws and jewellery lathes at the start of the 20th Century that more complex cuts came into existence.

In 1919 London-based engineer and mathematician, Marcel Tolkowsky, wrote his Masters thesis on the proportions necessary to create the perfect Round Brilliant – a cut that was new then, but which is still regarded as the diamond standard today.

Constructing mathematical models (whose complexities are way beyond the remit of this post, but which – in a nutshell – maximise brilliance and fire) he created a blueprint for the perfect gem and christened it the Ideal Cut.

Over the years Tolkowsky’s model (which applies only to Round Brilliant diamonds) has undergone many improvements. In its modern incarnation the Ideal Round Brilliant consists of 58 facets (33 on the crown 25 on the pavilion) and is seen as the diamond-cutting benchmark in North America.

Things are complicated somewhat by the fact that while the facet count is standard, the actual proportions vary. Consequently there are now at least six Ideal Cuts in existence.

Hearts and Arrows

This phenomenon is the visual effect achieved in a Round Brilliant cut diamond that boasts perfect symmetry and angles. When viewed down through the pavilion under special magnifying viewer (or gemscope) such a diamond shows a pattern of eight hearts. Eight arrows appear when the stone is viewed through the table.

Rarer than hen’s teeth, a Hearts and Arrows grading in conjunction with an Ideal Cut grade accounts for less than 1% of all diamonds cut.