3 up-and-coming jewellers to keep an eye on
The infinite possibilities of e-commerce and the millennials' constant search for individuality have caused a surge in niche jewellery brands. Defying conventions and delivering refreshingly new aesthetics, some creators are catching the eye. Here are three up-and-coming designers and their eponymous brands to put on your watchlist:
BIBI VAN DER VELDEN
From sculpting to creating jewellery, it is only a matter of adjusting sizes while keeping the figurative plasticity. After training in sculpture at The Florence Academy of Arts, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and The Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, Van der Velden decided to turn her attention to "wearable works of art," as her own website tellingly states, launching her jewellery line in 2006.
Her whimsical aesthetic features materials as diverse as 40,000-year-old mammoth tusk, baroque pearls, antique Chinese jade and real scarab beetle wings. "I love things that tell a story when something looks like it's old and has had a previous life," says the designer. "I love stones and pearls with imperfections, which give them character."
Some Van der Velden icons? A beautiful pendant depicting Saturn spinning within its rings, designed in 40,000-year-old mammoth tusk and dotted with sparkling white diamonds, opals, and blue sapphires. The sphere is set within 18K yellow gold rings embellished with white diamonds, with the orb twirling within its setting. And there's the Mammoth Toad Ring crafted in mammoth ivory, 18K yellow gold and green tsavorite, with the toad holding a pearl.
Some mismatched earrings feature on one side a banana sculpted in mammoth and on the other one a monkey in 18K rose and yellow gold and sterling silver. Both the banana and the monkey are pavé set with brown diamonds. There's also a dramatic pendant featuring a diamond-encrusted sterling silver monkey climbing atop a hand-carved lemon quartz banana. The monkey's 18K yellow gold tail loops around the 18K yellow gold chain to create a necklace with an unapologetically eclectic style.
Bibi Van der Velden creations are available online at farfetch.com, matchesfashion.com, bibivandervelden.com, and auverture.com (a website of unique jewellery creations curated by Bibi Van der Velden herself).
Insects or molluscs have never been featured in jewellery bestiaire. However, London and Beirut-based Lebanese designer Gaelle Khouri is morphing these long-overlooked intriguing creatures into standout jewellery pieces with elegance and audacity.
'The Garden of Earthly Delights' features a pair of octopus earrings whose tentacles sparkle with pink sapphires and an intricate spider brooch, its body a mesmerising amethyst wtith its spindly legs fashioned from 18K yellow gold and blackened silver. "There's something very beautiful, but at the same time very ugly about them," muses Khouri of the insects. "Which is exactly how our emotions are. There is a contrast between feeling good and feeling bad, which is what interests me."
Having worked with Oscar de la Renta in New York, Elie Saab in Beirut and Lebanese painter Bernard Renno, Khouri's creations are informed with the tactile experience of textile and the depth of a work of art. The 'Twister Of Thoughts Ring' is a thumb ring crafted in 18K rose gold and set with ice white diamonds, graphically expressing the movement of our thoughts in our minds.
Another beautifully intricate piece is the Caterpillar Ear Cuff, crafted with scores of blackened silver legs that climb up the wearer's ear. The insect's body is designed in yellow gold, with the legs set with sparkling pavé diamonds and blue sapphires. This design hugs the ear protectively while making a bold statement.
Gaelle Khouri's creations are available online at auverture.com.
Destiny is stronger than will. Nadine Aysoy was determined to pursue her career in finance deceiving those who believed she would have followed into her father's footsteps in creating jewellery. However, she eventually succumbed to her creative calling. She set off to re-fashion some of her jewellery, then those of her friends and later in a rapture of creativity, she kept creating new pieces for the joy of her now many devotees.
Her unique creative standpoint is "to create pieces that look and feel like high jewellery but at fine jewellery prices." Aysoy's creations may at first look traditional, but they all have a modern unexpected twist. The classical "Moi et Toi" theme that has long signified love is given a slant by juxtaposing coloured stones and pearls. She has even re-baptised the ring as "Elle et Lui."
In the Tsarina collection inspired by Russia's splendid royal past, Aysoy proposes earrings in which the dangling component can be detached from the part fixed at the lobe, quickly adapting to a woman's many styles during the day. The collection has naturally found a fervent admirer in Alexandra Tolstoy, a London-based writer and niece of the legendary Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.
Nadine Aysoy's creations are available here.