Inspiration is all around us and I’m forever annoying my walking companions by constantly stopping to take photos – spring time is no exception! It is a trait I have inherited from my mother, Stella, a keen botanist and my earliest source of inspiration.
The Stella Collection, named after her, was inspired by Alpine flowers and the fresh new growth of spring..
I wanted the colours for the collection to be as fresh as spring and found that pink and green facetted gems work well together. A trip to my gem dealers brings me the same joy and excitement as my children experience in the ‘pick-and-mix’ aisle of our local sweet shop. Who could resist a day in Hatton Garden to pour over hundreds of packets of loose gems, sparkling with light and colour.
Making the pieces, especially the bangle, is technically quite challenging but very rewarding. I wanted it to appear light and delicate, yet it had to be very strong and resilient so I chose a ‘knife edge’ profile for the wire work frame..
Three weeks of work went into the construction of the bangle before the stones were set.
Once the metal work is finished, it is sent off to have the hallmark stamped on it. Finally, if the gold is Fairtrade, the special Fairtrade mark is also added. Polishing is usually the most hated job of a jeweller and is the next stage before the stones are set. A polish is achieved by gradually hand smoothing the surface of the jewellery using various grades of abrasive papers and sometimes with wheels and burrs on a motor. Then the piece is buffed with a round cotton mop on an electric motor. Two styles of stone setting are used in the Stella collection; A collet or rub-over setting for the flowers and grain setting for the leaves. Strength, accuracy and good magnification are required for setting – a knowledge of gemstones is also useful to understand their tolerances.
The Stella collection was a labour of love to create, and one that has been much appreciated. It was one of the first collections in the UK to be produced in Fairtrade gold and won a place in the UK Designers of Excellence Touring Collection in the year of its launch. Just like our beautiful range of natural flowers, long may it bring joy to those who see it!