Amelia’s Magazine | Review: An evening class at the London Jewellery School

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

A couple of weeks ago I went along to the London Jewellery School for a night of cupcakes and cocktail rings, otherwise known as a lesson in how to make wire wrap beaded jewellery.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
At the work table each seat was laid with an individual jewellery kit but all attention was immediately drawn to the twinkling assortment of glass beads in the centre of the table. I am sure that anyone with a magpie mind can appreciate the lure…

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
We were soon dipping into the beads, pulling out our desired options to start the first project, a wire wrap bracelet made on bouncy pre-shaped wire. This was extremely simple, with the most taxing part choosing the right combination of beads, not too small and not too heavy, to produce the right look. Many of the others settled on tasteful monochrome pieces, but as usual I could not resist something a bit more colourful, a heathery palette of purples, blues, deep reds and greens.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Our tutor was Chu-Mei, who runs Grace & Firefly. She was super helpful and funny, immediately on hand to help with out any problems or advise on design decisions.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Once we had all managed to create a bracelet it was straight on to the next project, a blingy wire wrap ring. This required a more concentrated mind, as the rings were constructed from wire to fit our fingers perfectly and then clusters of beads were piled on top of each other to create the final cocktail ring. I managed to produce three different over the top creations that featured an assortment of brightly coloured, gold and pearlised beads.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Who needs Accessorise when you can create something utterly unique in under half an hour, and so much satisfaction comes from the creation process itself? I think that we were all quite pleased and pleasantly surprised with the amount of booty that we each managed to produce during the class. And one of the best things about the evening? The chance to meet other talented jewellers and find out a bit more about the London Jewellery School.

Afro deco upcycled watch pendant
Natasha Williams is Afro Deco, a jeweller who specialises in upcycling jewellery with added resin details – beautiful and unusual.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Another lady was an expert in polymer clay, the far classier descendent of Fimo. Remember Fimo? The new stuff is streets ahead, just check out the beautiful necklace above. Mary Ann of Zarafa Designs was also very helpful when I ran into trouble with my designs.

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
The London Jewellery School fits into a surprisingly compact room in Hatton Garden. Classes are incredibly diverse, in everything from perspex to gold – you an even make your own wedding bands (what a lovely idea!) I even learnt about the charms of Dichroic Glass, which can do all sorts of fabulous things (see below).

London Jewellery School 2011 -photography by Amelia Gregory
Coming up before Christmas the London Jewellery School is running a few classes where you can make bespoke Crimbo presents, and they have just announced news of a Set up your own Jewellery Business Distance Learning Course. In another life I quit this internet malarkey and concentrate on making things myself, so if you, like me, have always wondered whether you can make something you love into a career then this course could be just the ticket for you. The London Jewellery School was set up by young entrepreneur Jessica Rose who herself learnt the trade by doing short courses, so she is well equipped to talk about these kind of things.

Whether you have plans for a small pocket-money operation, a full time job or an even larger business employing others, the course is designed to guide you through all the basics of running a successful jewellery business. The course pack contains a 50-page glossy workbook, supporting case study booklet and more than 80 minutes of video footage with advice from jewellery business expert and course tutor Jessica Rose. ‘ If you pre-order this comprehensive course before the official release date on Friday 9th December then you can get the whole kit for just £99.

Categories ,Accessorise, ,Afro Deco, ,Beading, ,Bling, ,Bracelet, ,Christmas, ,Chu-Mei, ,Classes, ,Cocktail Rings, ,cupcakes, ,Dichroic Glass, ,Fimo, ,Gold, ,Grace & Firefly, ,Hatton Garden, ,Jessica Rose, ,London Jewellery School, ,Mary Ann, ,Natasha Williams, ,Perspex, ,Polymer Clay, ,Resin, ,review, ,Set up your own Jewellery Business Distance Learning Course, ,Short Courses, ,Silver, ,Upcyled, ,Wedding Rings, ,Wire Wrap, ,Zarafa Designs

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Amelia’s Magazine | Jewellery Connections 2011 at Platform in Hatton Garden

Steph Davies by Holly Farrington
Steph Davies by Holly Farrington.

Led by Camden Council, viagra order Jewellery Connections was a partly-funded project that worked with up-and-coming and newly-established designers from around the capital. It was a good-spirited idea, created to encourage creativity and collaboration from those specifically working in the jewellery mecca that is Hatton Garden. For some of the designers, it was the first time that their collections had been shown to the public, and after 18-months of hard work, and waiting, nerves were obviously running high. I went to have a look on the late night opening, and after happily accepting a freshly baked cupcake, or two, was pleased to find that my eyes were as satisfied as my taste buds. These are some of my personal highlights…

Steph Davies - Silver Diamond Locket
Silver Diamond Locket by Steph Davies.

Steph Davies‘ collection Diamond Day drew me in pre-cupcake, before I had even reached the door. Her work was in the front window of the gallery, two pendants intriguingly strung from a metal display. I’m a big fan of minimal, edgier jewellery and Steph’s design are just that. When I asked her to describe her work in three words she tells me, ‘structure, control, industrial‘ – an ethos I appreciate. Each piece is hand-made in silver at her London workshop, and for this collection she is inspired by the form of diamonds. I learn later that nature is a recurrent theme in her designs, previous work having been influenced by feathers and bones. I liked the simplicity of Steph’s jewellery – the idea of wearing a diamond, but stripped back to it’s simplest form, it’s shape. Finer details such as the garnet, and the diamond charm that reveals itself as a locket, also really impressed.

Sarah Eyton by Holly Farrington
Sarah Eyton by Holly Farrington.

Inside the gallery it was surprisingly quiet for a late night opening. I wandered around the display cabinets, taking in the delights from designers such as Jessica De Lotz, with her selection of reworked vintage trinkets, to Laura Gravestock‘s intricate fine jewellery. I then came across Sarah Eyton‘s work – a name I was already familiar with. On display were a couple of Sarah’s Kismet cuffs, a super modern design, which will catch your eye even if you’re not familiar with her name like me. Each cuff is made from Perspex, using laser technology for a super fine cut and then heat moulded into the desired shape. They’ve become a popular item amongst the fashion press, and rightly so, as they are a pretty useful piece of jewellery – unusual enough to be worn as a statement, but also suitable for every day. I liked the pale green and classic black, colours which really help show off the intricate detailing on each cuff.

Amy Keeper by Holly Farrington
Amy Keeper by Holly Farrington.

After a quick chat to one of the gallery assistants, who told me that the previous night had been busy with jewellery lovers and buyers, I wandered back to check I had not missed anything in the rest of the window displays. Just to add, Platform is a non-profit organisation that was set up to support designers, so I thought it was great if the designers did get to see some real sales from an event like this, and have it all pay off. On my second view of the windows, I stumbled across something that I couldn’t believe I had missed when I arrived.

Amy Keeper - Magnifier Pendant Sterling Silver, Gold and Black Rhodium Plated, Rock Crystal
Amy Keeper’s Magnifier Pendant Sterling Silver, Gold and Black Rhodium Plated with Rock Crystal.

Hidden in the bottom corner of the front window was the lovely work from Amy Keeper. I read later that Amy’s work is inspired by a spyglass from a favourite children’s story. The collection has a special and unusual combination of vintage charm and optical heritage. The necklace and ring were the most striking pieces, and the whole collection is made from sterling silver, with gold and black rhodium plating and finished with semi-precious stones. The collection really wowed me – I felt there was a story behind the jewels; a mixture of polished, clean metal but with an unidentifiable shroud of mystery. Amy’s work certainly shows a level of sophistication that justifies the awards she received whilst studying at university. The magnifier pendant won the prize for my favourite piece; I loved its lucky-talisman quality.

Platform Showcase is located in Hatton Garden, and is open Monday to Saturdays.

Categories ,Amy Keeper, ,camden, ,Diamond Day, ,Hatton Garden, ,Holly Farrington, ,Jessica De Lotz, ,jewellery, ,Jewellery Connections, ,Kismet, ,Laura Gravestock, ,Magnifier Pendant, ,Perspex, ,Platform Showcase, ,Sarah Eyton, ,Spyglass, ,Steph Davies

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with jewellery designer and gemologist expert Milena Kovanovic

Milena Kovanovic by Laura Hickman
Milena Kovanovic by Laura Hickman.

I was blown away by the unusual jewels of Milena Kovanovic when I first discovered her at The Craft Market last year, curated by Megan Taylor as part of Tent London during the 2012 London Design Festival. It’s taken me awhile to catch up with this Central Saint Martins graduate, gemologist and self confessed hoarder, who explores ideas of science and antiquity to create her unique designs – but I didn’t forget her. Her new Ursula’s Hoard Collection features rough precious gems such as Lapis Lazuli, Carnelian and Baroque Pearls set in swathes of bubbled gold, all inspired by the potential spoils of a sunken galleon: forgotten gems that Milena Kovanovic imagines lie encrusted in coral reefs on the depths of the ocean floor. Customers with a very healthy budget can commission from her high end Luxe Reef collection, featuring even more exotic jewels. I spoke to Milena about her inspiration, design process and knowledge as a qualified gemologist.

Tent London Oct 2012-Milena Kovanovic gem
Tent London Oct 2012-Milena Kovanovic
Spessartine Garnet and Smokey Quartz necklace from the Krystalline collection. Discovered at Tent London 2012.

When did you first realise that you wanted to be a jewellery designer, and what has been the best thing about following this career path?
I came across jewellery design whilst doing my art and design foundation course, really enjoyed working in metal and decided I’d apply to the degree course after my tutor convinced me I’d be perfect for it. It must have been fate as I used to make jewellery as a teenager and sell it at Greenwich Market to earn some extra cash, though I never considered it as a career at the time. The best thing about following this career path is that it encompasses all the things I love – making and gems and minerals.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard red gems
What was the best bit about studying at CSM?
For me the best part about studying at CSM was the freedom you got to explore and experiment within your degree course. It also have one of the best libraries for books and materials that is an invaluable resource for any designer.

Milena Kovanovic Jewelry by Veronica Rowlands
Milena Kovanovic Jewellery by Veronica Rowlands.

The Ursula’s Hoard collection features gems that are encrusted with molten gold that looks like coral – how did you achieve this effect?
I enjoy exploring new processes and techniques in my work, so for my last two collections I have been doing a lot of electroforming. This is a process which uses an electrical current to take metal in a solution and deposit/grow it onto the surface of whatever you want. This method was perfect for the Ursula’s Hoard collection as I wanted the pieces to look like they’d been under the sea for centuries, becoming encrusted in barnacles and corals.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard La Belle Ring
La Belle Ring.

Where do you go for inspiration when you start designing a new collection?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, it’s all around us. I’m very visual and take a lot of photographs of things that catch my eye, especially focusing on the details. Sometimes it can be from something I’ve read or an exhibition I’ve seen. I also love to travel which is a great influence for new ideas.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard Golden Hind Necklace
Golden Hind Necklace.

Where did you study and how long did it take you to become a qualified gemologist?
I trained as a gemmologist at the Gemmological Association of Great Britain in Hatton Garden. They have a fast track course which combines the foundation and diploma into a 1 year full time programme, which is what I did.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard rings
What amazing and little known gemological fact can you share with us?
The gemstone Tourmaline is pyroelectric – meaning that when it is rubbed or heated, it will develop a static charge that attracts lightweight particles to its surface like dust. This effect could be one probable source of it’s name, which originates from the Sinhalese word Turmali which means both “coloured stone” and “attractor of ashes“.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard Mayflower Ring
Mayflower Ring.

What are your favourite kind of gems to work with?
That’s a tough one, there are so many it’s hard to choose! I’m really drawn to vibrant coloured gems such as Rubellites, Spessartine Garnets and Emeralds to name but a few. The gems are always the starting point from which I will create a piece of jewellery as they usually inform the design.

Milena Kovanovic Ursula's Hoard earrings
How and when are you able to use your gemological expertise these days? (apart from in jewellery design)
I regularly utilise my gemmological knowledge to source and supply gemstones for clients and trade, as well as offering specialised training in gemstones and jewellery production to staff in retail businesses.

I can’t wait to see what the talented Milena Kovanovic designs next. Visit her website here to explore her wonderful world of gems.

Categories ,2012, ,Baroque Pearls, ,Carnelian, ,Central Saint Martins, ,electroforming, ,Emerald, ,Gemmological Association of Great Britain, ,Gemologist, ,Gems, ,Golden Hind Necklace, ,Greenwich Market, ,Hatton Garden, ,jewellery, ,Krystalline, ,La Belle Ring, ,Lapis Lazuli, ,Laura Hickman, ,London Design Festival, ,Luxe Reef, ,Mayflower Ring, ,Megan Taylor, ,Milena Kovanovic, ,pyroelectric, ,Rubellite, ,Sinhalese, ,Spessartine Garnet, ,Spessartine Garnet and Smokey Quartz necklace, ,Tent London, ,The Craft Market, ,Tourmaline, ,Turmali, ,Ursula’s Hoard Collection, ,Veronica Rowlands

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