Curious Trends


Jewellery and accessories inspired by memories and past lives

Jewellery and accessories designers are increasingly taking their inspiration from bygone eras. The desire to prolong memories of retro experiences, people and places is reflected in choice of materials used, as well as design, packaging and promotional material. From broken porcelain to old coins and cotton reels - however small and insignificant the contribution, every single item has a role to play in telling the story of generations past.

Recent graduate Sally Szczech’s collages include photographs in handmade ceramic frames, hung as a collection, in haphazard curiosity shop style. In one installation she displays sewing paraphernalia, like vintage cotton reels - some artily embellished to exaggerate a retro make do and mend culture.

The practice of upcycling found and used objects has been popular for some time amongst jewellery designers. A relatively recent development is the use of broken porcelain to create quirky new pieces of jewellery. I was recently a judge at the Top Drawer trade fair in London, where I chose Sagen’s recycled china and porcelain jewellery as the winner of the Best New Fashion Product category.

From her studio in Malmö, designer Elin collects and recycles porcelain plates and china, combining selected sections with silver for her ‘Dining with Grandma’ collection. The name Sägens means 'old saga' or old story, and reflects Elin’s philosophy and desire to make handmade, nostalgic jewellery that lasts forever. Each piece is completely unique, made from a huge colletion of retro porcelain that Elin collects "obsessively." Her intention is that this jewellery is “for future heirlooms.”

British designer, Amanda Caines, who recently showed her collection at the Origin contemporary craft fair, also uses broken china to create unique one off pieces of jewellery. Her style is more naturalistic and raw, with materials such as wood and ceramics being collected from beaches and riverbanks.

Other craft workers, such as Roseellen Cobb, create their own vintage-style ceramics, which are then used to make necklaces.

Rachel Eardley cuts up old coins to create necklaces, brooches, bracelets and earrings, which she packages in appropriately hand-illustrated boxes. The coins she uses are mainly pre-decimal currency British money, including some dating back to the reign of Queen Victoria.

Jessica de Lotz’s narrative based jewellery collections also draw on past lives. Her Until the Daybreak collection of light switch rings and doily bangles serves as a tribute to Daisy Hooper, a lady whose personal belongings Jessica found at a flea market, hidden inside a 1950s handbag. Jessica’s collection is inspired by something she calls “functional concealment”, which led to the discovery of Daisy’s story, and the objects within her life:

“At a Sunday morning antiques market I came across a 1950s handbag filled with photographs, identity cards, birth certificates, stamps, tickets and other personal documents belonging to a woman named Daisy Hooper. The handbag was an emotive time capsule; I was inspired to tell a story about Daisy through some of the objects that were personal to her. Assuming that one of the photographs depicted Daisy’s bedroom, I created jewellery that would inhabit and interact with the objects shown within the image: A bangle hidden in a picture frame and a ring within antique light switch casing. The jewellery not only exists within the objects, but is also designed to be protected by them. Each piece is provided with a bespoke home and, in turn, cunning means to fool a burglar. Daisy’s belongings inspired new creations, which carry memories of the past. I hope that in years to come, these pieces will become heirlooms in their own right.”

Small accessories for the home, like these French boudoir style scent filled parcels and wardrobe sachets also hark back to a bygone era of genteel living and a taste for the small, but important aspects of life. Hand embellished with ceramic cameos, they are decorated with old fashioned ribbons and can be customized with personally chosen trinkets.

Other home accessories designers such as Lost and Found recycle vintage flags, especially Union Jacks, to create their distinctive bedspreads and cushions.

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