London celebrations

London Craft Week celebrates the talents of jewellery, from silversmithing to glassblowing

From weaving to ceramics, from millinery to papermaking; this week, the British capital is celebrating the art of the handmade as London Craft Week carries the flag for makers and artisans. With an interest stronger than ever in high-quality handcrafted products, workshops, exhibitions, conferences and demonstrations bring consumers closer to the origin of the items they buy. And from a goldsmith exhibition at Sotheby’s to open workshops in Hatton Gardens, the city’s finest jewelery artists are firmly in the spotlight.

More than 300 events across the city offer a window into the creative processes of more than 765 participating makers, artists and designers, during the eighth edition of the event. According to Guy Salter, chairman of London Craft Week, the past two years have seen more artisans and makers come to the fore, and this first edition since the pandemic is an opportunity to shine a light on “what we call the iceberg of creative talent”. , championing lesser-known artist-maker-designers and other creators, some hidden beneath the surface, others household names, but all world-class.”

“Many remain unknown and undervalued,” he continues. “That’s why we’re redoubling our efforts this year to draw as much attention as possible to those extraordinary men and women in the workshops, studios and at home who create truly exceptional things.” The week opened with Quartet: Goldsmithing in London Now, a collective exhibition at Sotheby’s London, showcasing the work of four talented goldsmiths at the cutting edge of their art. Each has a distinct purpose, but they are united by their commitment to historic techniques, some of which date back to the Bronze Age.

Sian Evans is a jeweler with an almost entirely independent practice; she works with hard stones found in British rivers, beaches and mountainsides, and recycled gold and even offers customers partial payment with their pre-loved jewellery. Using a range of traditional hand tools, she delicately carves, scrapes, files and shapes each stone to reveal the bands and swirls within, sometimes with startling results. “Handwork elevates a humble stone to something precious,” she says of her stone rings on minimal settings. Elsewhere, she fashioned silky smooth tiny urns from Scottish agates and cast solid gold earrings from ancient artifacts.

Lucie Gledhill first turned his sculptor’s gaze to chain in 2009, during an expedition into a discipline that began with an exploration of restraint with a perfectly executed graduated curb chain, quickly followed by rebellion and an untamed chain link rope . A self-confessed “texture junkie”, her work ranges from a sculptural Richard Greaves-inspired rope chain, in which each link of gold thread has been handcrafted to create a roughly hewn and frayed texture, to the Eclipse chain, in which yellow gold is melted into a white gold frame to create fused links. An alchemist in action.

Christopher Thompson RoydsHer delightfully naturalistic jewelry is inspired by a desire to capture the simplicity of early memories of her childhood in the English countryside. For his signature daisy-shaped necklace, he handcrafted each flower petal in 18-karat gold, while the gold and diamond stud earrings were specially crafted for Quartet were 3D printed, in an exploration of technique that emphasizes the beauty of the end result.

Castro Smith reinvented the signet ring with richly detailed engraving. He uses the ancient technique of “seal engraving” to create intricate small-scale designs, which often spill over onto the shanks of his rings. As a talented illustrator who once wanted to lend his art to the gaming world, his style is steeped in fantasy and his delicate flowers, anatomical hearts, leaping hares and intertwining snakes often become bespoke pieces as personal as tattoos. His craft is influenced by time spent in Japan learning traditional printmaking techniques alongside master craftsmen, to create a style all his own.

In Marylebone, jewelry consultant and curator Valery Demure is hosting two events at object of emotionits pop-up gallery.

On Wednesday, Objet d’Emotion hosted jewels from artisan jewelers from Myanmar, in The art of the lotus flowerthe latest high jewelry launch from Turquoise Mountain, an organization that strives to revive historic craftsmanship and preserve local culture by empowering artisans in Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Middle East. To date, Turquoise Mountain has trained over 15,000 artisans and built over 50 small businesses, driving economic development and generating millions in international sales. This latest collection includes three capsule lines inspired by the ornamentation of temples, the weaving of palm trees and bamboo and the precious stones of the Mogok Valley. It was produced with silversmiths in Yangon to create contemporary pieces rooted in traditional techniques.

On Thursday, the gallery celebrated a return to the physical experience of jewelry, with touch me, a show exploring textures and techniques that encourage us to feel, wear and hold jewelry. As touch takes on new meaning as we emerge from two years of social distancing and confinement, the exhibition opened with a sensory experience designed to encourage the public to reconnect with each other, and jewelry tactile – and beautiful – vintage and contemporary on display. A poetic display showcases glass cocoons containing artisanal talismans by Agathe Saint Girons, while inside pieces by Nada Ghazal, Mélanie Georgacopoulos, Capucine H and others mix materials such as ceramics, leather and the metal fringes with precious stones and precious metals. “We yearn to touch and be touched again by jewelry – touched in our hands and our bodies, our hearts and our minds,” says Valery Demure. “We forgot the value of texture and the importance of tactility.”

In London’s historic jewelry district, Hatton Garden, a successful contemporary jewelry brand Alighieri opened their workshops to create the Alighieri Museum, giving the public an insight into founder Rosh Mahtani’s creative process, and the traditional techniques – and local businesses – involved in the production. Alighieri was a semi-fine jewelery pioneer when the brand debuted in 2014, with a distinctive archaeological aesthetic inspired by Dante’s poems, and has since evolved to use precious stones and solid gold. The lost-wax box used to make their jewelry is an eloquent metaphor for the famous blaze itself. Rosh will also demonstrate some of the techniques behind her jewelry at Shaping Masculinities: Alighieri at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Sunday May 15.

Elsewhere, the couture jewelry house Chanel Métiers d’Art Goossens organizes a goldsmithing demonstration by its Parisian artisans, jeweler Jane Lunzer will show how legacy jewelry can be updated to be worn now, and Josephine de Stael teamed up with Floris to capture some of the British perfume house’s scents in jewel form, using vitreous enamel. Proof, if it were needed, that London is the place for some of the most talented artisans in the world.

London Craft Week runs through the city until Sunday, May 15.