Monday, December 7, 2015

#GYPSYINUK - Meeting Jeweler Ruth Tomlinson

One of my favorite things about being part of the contemporary jewelry industry is getting to meet designers I've long admired (I try to keep the fanning out to a minimum when this happens...it doesn't always work ;). Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting jeweler Ruth Tomlinson at her cozy studio at Cockpit Arts - a designer/maker collective in Central London. My trip to England was extremely short (and mostly jam-packed with antique buying), so I was thrilled to be able to count her as the only maker I got the chance to meet with in London. She welcomed me and my friend Adrienn into her studio and showed us a range from her collection, all beautifully laid out for us to peruse and try on (#dream!).


A great little video introducing Ruth and her work - via her website.

I've been a longtime fan of Ruth's work, following her on instagram and lusting after the unique stone choices and beautiful textures and forms that have become her signature. She began her jewelry career at age 10 (!), and has since refined her craft to include inventive techniques in wax casting, electroforming and wire work. The results are stunning - her pieces boast surfaces that seem as though they have built up over centuries, with precious stones, diamonds and pearls seamlessly embedded in meticulously finished metal. Being apprenticed to a jeweler who specializes in polishing left me a sucker for good finishing, and Ruth's work did not disappoint. Though I had visited her work in person at stores like Liberty London and Love Adorned in New York, it was exciting on another level  to see and touch so many pieces at once! I was immediately drawn to the almost roman, relic-like quality of her work, like pieces of treasure unearthed from a shipreck. Below are some great examples of how Ruth uses incredible texture + shapes, combined with unconventional stones to create fine jewelry that is both stunning and trailblazing at the same time.


A mix of rings and bangles laid out for us to peruse.

Closeup on some rings - the hand-applied texture unique to each piece is incredible to see and feel.


Her Raw Diamond Ring with Granules show the encapsulated setting style Ruth is known for.

The Raw Champagne Diamond Pendant - an irreverent take on the classic diamond halo.

Those who love to stack as much as I do can rest assured that any of her rings will blend seamlessly within your personal collection - even the antique pieces Adrienn and I were wearing looked at home with everything we tried on. I couldn't help but notice how the settings allow for the creation of some great stacks: they're low, but not so low that it's impossible to combine them with other pieces, which makes for great versatility.


Single Sapphire Encrusted Engagement Ring + Double Beaded Wedding Band.

This Grey Diamond Cluster Ring stacked beautifully with my own antique wedding bands.

A Georgian-era diamond band blends seamlessly with two of Ruth's rings (L), while her Ombré Sapphire Ring fit right in with  Adrienn's own Georgian eternity bands (R), via Instagram.

This Spinel + Ruby Ring looked killer with my own Georgian garnet + aquamarine halo.

While I was there, we chatted about Ruth's history and process as an artist and jeweler, from her early start selling pieces in her family's pharmacy, to what other mediums inspire her. She also graciously answered a few interview questions (below). 

 ...
To put it simply - the magic of minutiae and miniature worlds...I'm captivated by ideas of preciousness and beauty. 
I'm generally inspired by the world around me, and things that have inspired me throughout my life - anything from the feeling of walking along the beach to a Tudor portrait in the National Gallery. As a designer/artist I have quite eclectic taste, drawing from things that inspire me in nature, the arts (from fine art to fashion), craft, and poetry. And finally, I'm inspired by the people that wear our jewels - they are who we make them for, so they can celebrate a special, unique moment in their lives.
Well, I have come a long way since the age of 10, when I started selling Fimo and bead jewellery in my family pharmacy/chemist on the seafront, but I have always been inspired by materials, process, and my surroundings. I think the two main creative influences in my work are nature and historical jewellery, these are things that just flow out of me. And of course I have become more technically advanced, but using alternative techniques I discovered along the way that felt in tune with the work has changed my work as well.

I LOVE making and creating but as creative director of the brand I have to wear many hats. This is sometimes hard to balance, but a great team to help achieve our goals makes it all possible! They allow me the time to design, create and make...I have always got so many ideas for new pieces and collections, and that is what is most important, to keep the work fresh and exciting for our clients, and as a business.
For advice, all I would say is follow your passion, believe in what you do and work hard! You can do anything you like.

As I mentioned, I tend to go back in time when I look for 'maker' inspiration. I feel it's best not to be inspired by other contemporaries in the jewellery industry too much, as it's essential to stay unique and true to my individual vision. However, there are many talented designer/makers in the design and craft work whose work I admire, including my partner, furniture designer Gareth Neal. If I had to choose a contemporary jeweller I would say Karl Fritsch. His work is so free and playful and precious - so many elements I can identify with.  
 ...


All in all, it was amazing experience meeting with Ruth, and one that inspired me to connect more with my surroundings as inspiration for my own work. Below you can find 7 pieces I picked from her collection for my holiday wishlist - I highly recommend checking out her site for more drool-worthy items! 


Top (L-R): Wide Gold Beaded Edge Wedding Band, Gold Beaded Edge Paisley Drop Earrings, Sapphire + Gold Beaded Eternity Band 
Middle: Sapphire Cluster Ring
Bottom Row (L-R): Emerald Beaded Edge Stud Earrings, Beaded Edge 5-Dome Ring, Beaded Edge Gray Diamond Drop Earrings



xoxo
Angela

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A GYPSY WEDDING

This past weekend I got married, which was an incredible experience on many levels. Josh and I chose an idyllic farmhouse on Long Island (circa 1820!), on four acres of property overlooking Conscience Bay. 


Our ceremony: no filter needed, the weather + setting were perfect! And yes, my flower girl is carrying a fairy wand.

From the second that Josh proposed last Christmas (and, let's be real, way before that!) I had accessories on the brain when it came to wedding attire. The clothing, I could have taken or left - I rarely wear dresses and generally invest very little in my outfits (because duh, how else would I pay for all the gems?!). I lucked out when I met the talented Amber Doyle, who made me the perfect, simple silk sheath in an ombré ivory-to-blush shade (my "something new") as background for my jewelry. I am generally NOT a pink person, but the color grabbed me as both romantic and kind of rocker, so I went for it, and I'm so glad I did!


Detail shot of the beautiful ombré effect of my dress.

I chose to adorn my entire right hand and keep my left hand as simple as possible. I love the way rings look with my tattoos, and I wanted to keep the focus on my wedding bands: an engraved gold and platinum band from our visit to Metier last summer, a french-cut sapphire and yellow gold eternity band from my friend Alison of Duvenay, and a simple, split 18k yellow gold band I picked up from an antique dealer here in NYC to round out the stack. 


The evolution of my wedding stack, as it developed over time. I wore three bands to represent past, present, and future.

On my right hand I wore my wedding present from Josh, a rosecut diamond, silver and gold cluster ring, circa 1860 (my "something old"). In the image below, it is flanked by my wedding and engagement rings - you can see how sapphires (his birthstone) are prominently featured! 


My wedding present from Josh, engagement and wedding rings.

In discussing my choices leading up to the day, a lot of people were shocked that I chose to mix metals, and cautioned me that I might look back at pictures and be disappointed I didn't keep it more streamlined. But I love gold! And platinum! And silver! And most importantly, I wanted to have fun with what I was wearing and stay true to my personal taste, not some idea or weird rule about what I should wear. I did try to edit a bit more than I normally do, in order to avoid looking too busy (compromise!). 

I also wore my mother's engagement ring from my father (middle finger, below), an 18k gold half-hoop style diamond band made of a mix of old-cuts that came from a ring of his mother's. She passed away when he was young, and I am named for her, so wearing it was my way of paying hommage to her. My ring finger sported my engagement ring, a 1920s platinum and Old Mine Cut diamond surrounded by a french cut sapphire halo - which also served as my "something blue". On my pinky I wore a Victorian mixed-cut diamond band; I recently sold it to my friend Kate of Heart of Solid Gold, so it made for a pretty and sentimental "something borrowed."

With symbolism already playing heavily into my jewelry selection, I chose to wear one of my favorite rings, a Victorian 14k gold and garnet snake ring, as the only other adornment on my left hand. Garnets are my birthstone, and I loved the idea of wearing them in addition to Josh's. I also loved the symbolism of fidelity that they offered, and the eternal snake/love motif made it an even more perfect choice. I wear this ring almost every day, so it was nice to look down on my wedding day and have something so familiar there to help me feel like myself. 


My rings, pre-ceremony.

Anyone who knows me also knows my long-time obsession with plants and their symbolism in jewelry, particularly for weddings! My bouquet, for example, incorporated wheat I had picked with my dear friend (and talented jeweler) Rachel Eardley for my cousin’s wedding last summer in England. I also used it to make Josh’s wheat boutonniere. Wheat was used commonly in Victorian weddings to symbolize prosperity, fertility and abundance. Victorian brides carried bouquets of it, and even tucked it in their veils!
 

In the English countryside picking wheat used for my cousin's wedding, and later for my own. 



My wild bouquet, picked from my mother's and friends' gardens.

My Victorian diamond + ivory wheat sheaf earrings were a happy accident that came together thanks to a generous gift from my friend Ishy Antiques. They were the first piece of wedding jewelry I bought, and at some point I got it in my head to try and jazz them up a bit from the simple gold earwires they came to me on. I searched high and low for the perfect stones to hang them from, and was thrilled when I came to own these diamond pieces off of a beautiful diamond and citrine brooch he was converting. Suspended from posts with the tiniest 14k jumprings, the old cut diamonds offered beautiful sparkle and movement and totally transformed the perfectly carved pieces of Ivory. I generally try not to play favorites with my jewelry but these were definitely the part of my outfit I was the most excited to wear, and it made them all the more special that they came together thanks to the generosity of a friend. I will without a doubt treasure them forever.


My old-cut diamond + Ivory wedding earrings.

Getting dressed and putting on my earrings for the first time.

I love looking back at pictures from the day and such beautiful statement earrings in almost every photo. Apart from their symbolism, they lent the most beautiful silhouette and helped tie my whole outfit together. I even chose not to wear a necklace (unheard of in my world!) to really let them shine. 


Me + my beautiful flower girl! I love how my earrings peek out in almost every photo.

Though not traditional jewelry, my crown of Myrtle leaves was another favorite piece I wore worth mentioning. After seeing a similar tiara style in a book, I tracked down New-Zealand based artist Anna Doezie of Anna Marguerite and commissioned a similar style. Myrtle has been used in weddings since classical times, where it represented a devotion to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Later used in Hebrew weddings, my crown was based off of diadems popular in the Edwardian era, when brides wore brass versions as a symbol of love “that lasts beyond the grave.” 


Hellenistic paper-thin gold wreath circa 4th century BC Greece, via MFA Boston.

Detail shot of my crown!
 


The crown was a beautiful, unusual detail and really made me feel like I was dressed for a special occasion!

Speaking of accessories, mine weren’t the only ones of note! I carved a heavy, 8mm wide band in wax and cast it in platinum, Josh’s choice of metal, for his wedding band. I confess that this took place at 10 o'clock at night, 5 days before our wedding (priorities, ok?). Luckily, it turned out perfectly.


Me at my bench, carving Josh's wedding band in wax. 

The finished product. I'm a fan of wedding rings that make men look, as I refer to it, "very married."

  

Josh is a man who prefers minimalism when it comes to his clothing and accessories (clearly, opposites attract!). He kept it simple and accessorized his tailored Theory Suit with a vintage Van Cleef Arpels watch I gave him last Christmas and a small, sterling silver tie clip



Josh's accessories.  Note his wheat boutonniere!



My end-of-the-night, finally married #showmeyourrings!

xoxo
Angela


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Part II: #GYPSYINSF

When I found out I was traveling to San Francisco for my sister's wedding, I immediately started planning which jewelry friends + places I would try and visit. It was a super short trip, so I knew we were going to have to pack it in! Side note: I don't know how I lucked out with a man who's willing to be dragged around to look at gems -- he's a real trooper (here's hoping he stays so willing forever!).

You know that person you follow on Instagram/stalk their site or blog so obsessively you feel like you know them? Well that's how I felt about
Metier, who was first on my list of places to check out. I had admired their pieces and general taste for so long, in my head we were already super tight! Certain pieces (this, THIS, and about a zillion others) stuck in my mind as members of what I call the "holy grail" category, and I knew I had to meet the masters behind such a beautiful selection in person.

We arrived in San Francisco, dropped our bags at our hotel and immediately walked to Hayes Valley, one of the most charming neighborhoods in SF, and what Sheri and Trina, Metier's co-owners, referred to as "The Nolita of San Francisco." Metier is tucked in on Laguna Street, just off of Hayes, the gorgeous main drag lined with cute shops, great restaurants and beautiful coral trees (New Yorker note: Hayes Valley is much, much prettier than Nolita -- just saying). 


SF Selfie! Can you tell how out of breath we were? Those hills are seriously major.

Hayes Valley: The Main Drag

I must say, working in a store for 5 years has left me somewhat turned off from shopping. It often feels uncomfortable being on the other side of the counter, and I revert to a childlike place of "what if I break something?!" or "am I annoying the shopgirls trying so many rings?", so I was slightly nervous to actually go to a space I had admired from afar for so long.

Luckily, Sheri and Trina made us feel immediately at home. Their tiny jewel box is just 200 square feet, but when you step inside it may as well be a castle! The midnight-blue walls feel super lux and immediately pull you in -- it's one of those spaces where everything is beautiful, from the abstract wall mural to the display cases to, of course, the inventory.  


A snapshot of the interior - how cool is their dutch door?! (via Metier Blog)

Gold leaf mural backdrop to their amazing collection of vintage jewelry (via Metier Insta)

A little bit of background: Metier began 20 years ago as a larger shop that carried cult-favorite clothing lines such as Acne and A.P.C., in addition to a range of accessories. Over the years their business evolved, moved, and finally settled in their current location, with a tightly curated selection of vintage, antique and contemporary jewelry mixed in with a few it-girl accessories from artists like Ryan Roche and Shawn Burke. Their cases house truly incredible things, all artfully arranged, and their photography is top-notch, which for me just pushes them a head above the rest. 


But seriously, how amazing is their photography? (Via Metier Facebook)

A target ring, moss agate and rubies? You had me at hello! (Via Metier Facebook)

I immediately got to work trying on as many pieces as I could at a time! Their selection of Victorian and Georgian jewelry is stellar, and all are extremely reasonably priced. They also carry some amazing contemporary lines, like mixed-metal bands I'm totally obsessed with by Variance Objects, and Arielle de Pinto, whose cool, innovative pieces have been on my wishlist for ages.  


These Georgian Silver + Rosecut Diamond trilogy ring and stacker would make the perfect wedding set.

They're also pretty as part of this phenomenal Georgian Diamond + Turquoise Stack, and paired with a Victorian Opal + Diamond Flower Ring; All available on their site.



A really cool little Victorian star-set diamond + enamel Gypsy ring and a Victorian bloodstone that fills all your statement ring dreams. 



The Enamel Gypsy Ring had the coolest graphic side detail - almost like the face of a bird!


I totally cheated on my engagement ring with this insane Edwardian Platinum, 14k + Diamond Cluster Ring - the central Old Mine Cut measures a full carat and is BONKERS beautiful.

In addition to rings, their collection of Victorian + Georgian lockets and pendants is seriously on point.

Those Georgian Pinchbeck + Enamel Floral earrings were calling my NAME! 

A pretty vignette displaying some of the other accessories they carry - available here.

I ended up taking home two special pieces. The first is hugely sentimental, an Art Deco hand-engraved platinum + 14k ring Josh bought for me as a wedding band. He felt strongly I wear a band in platinum to match the engagement ring he gave me, and he loves all things Deco. When we saw this one, we both agreed it was the perfect match that would also serve as a romantic memento from a special part of our trip. 


My future wedding band, pictured on the bottom.

The second purchase is also special, as it's one I bought for myself! I ended up completely falling in love with and bringing home that incredible Victorian men's bloodstone ring. I had never seen one with such an interesting pattern to the stone (it almost looks like camouflage) and I LOVED the heftiness and detail of the beautiful setting. The stone is also faceted into a beautiful, soft curve that mimics the finger, which is unusual and ultimately what sealed the deal for me. 


My new bloodstone ring.

One very interesting part of being a jewelry collector is realizing how your taste evolves with time and experience. I have always loved soft stones (coral, turquoise, and the harder but still earthy agates + onyx), but I never realized how much until recently. More than ever I find myself drawn to their beautiful colors, bold presence and the interesting cuts and carvings they often have. Not only do they appeal to my style, which definitely tends more towards the edgy than the feminine, they are also often set in men's rings, which is a bonus as well (my friends know I love a big ring!). As stones, they speak to me as treasures from the earth whose beauty is beheld in a different way than that of diamonds and their other, sparklier gemstone cousins. I hope someday to sport hands full of giant, earthy statement rings, whether Victorian or Modernist (#futurejewelrygoals).

All in all, we had an incredible time visiting the ladies at Metier, and I'm so glad I picked it as the one jewelry store we had the chance to actually see! I highly recommend checking them out - in person if you can, or from afar through insta + their beautiful site. Everything about Sheri, Trina and their work is totally right up my alley, which made it easy to choose a ring from their collection I'll use to mark one of the most important moments of my life. It's impossible not to fall in love with them and their "deeply personal" collection, even the hashtag they've adopted to describe themselves -- #keepersoftheold -- is compelling. My only regret is that I left without taking a photograph of the four of us as a souvenir (though I did get a little #showmeyourrings action ;).


#Showmeyourrings: All personal collection or available at Metier. Fun fact: Trina's amazing antique Native American sterling ring (right) was passed down through generations in her husband's family!



xoxo
Angela