Unsigned Winner Clarice Price Thomas won in 2011, and spoke to us about her experience with EC One and what she’s been up to since then.
What inspired you to apply for your Unsigned award?
For a long while I knew that I wanted to set up my own business as a jewellery designer and maker however I had no clue how to go about doing it whatsoever! When I heard about Unsigned I thought it sounded like the most perfect way to get guidance and support in setting myself up.
How has your jewellery and style developed since winning the award?
It’s developed a lot I think, especially with my next silver collection which will be out for AW16. Unsigned was great for me in terms of creativity and developing my style as it allowed me to have help with all the admin and business side of things so I quickly learnt how to do those things and get them out of the way. That then freed up my time to spend on designing
Has winning the Unsigned award helped you to get to where you are now?
A million and one ways! Aside from helping me with all the business side of things including pricing, selecting the top pieces for a collection, marketing etc, it gave me a huge amount of confidence and paved the way for me to set out on my own. I really look back at winning Unsigned as the true birth of my business.
Do you have any exciting plans lined up for this year?
Lots of exciting plans! I’m working on my debut fine collection at the moment as well as my AW16 collection. On top of that, I’m busy with bespoke customer orders as well as looking forward to doing my CAD course in October!
Any advice for designers just starting out in the industry?
Gain as much experience as you can! My highlights before setting up my own business were working for other jewellers and learning along the way. I was lucky enough to work for Jessica de Lotz which not only was so much fun but I learnt so much from her. I also think it’s important to learn as much while you can. I’ve recently been investing a lot in my own learning; embarking on a CAD/CAM and a Diamond Grading course. Learning a new skills can push you forward and help you move into new areas.
Amanda Coleman’s latest collection has been produced in precious materials exclusively for EC One. We talked to Amanda about the one of a kind collection, her inspirations and life away from jewellery just as the new pieces hit our shelves!
What inspires your work, where do you go for inspiration?
I am lucky, I live in the beautiful cathedral city of Lincoln. I walk past Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral on the way to take the children to school every morning, I am always spotting new details and patterns in the stone work, the building is an incredible feat of human achievement, it is 1000 years old and to think it was built without any power or machinery. The main direct inspiration for my jewellery does tend to be nature but I’m inspired by weeds and beautiful flowers alike, bugs as well as magnificent stags. It’s the structure of plants that appeals to me and the quirky characters of the animals. My husband is good at gardening so we have a beautiful garden with a wide variety of plants, I tend to be a backseat gardener!
What was it like making a fine jewellery collection, what challenges did you face?
I have always wanted to make a fine jewellery collection so was thrilled when EC One asked me to do this. I loved the chance to use precious stones like the diamonds, pink sapphires and rubies, 18ct gold is such a joy to work with, without getting too technical the heat when you solder is much more localised so the material really suits the small, intricate pieces that I tend to make. The challenges were making the tiny little claw settings – some of the sapphires and rubies were 2.5mm diameter and I wanted these to be claw set onto flowers, the claws on these settings were tiny… fortunately I enjoy a challenge!
What is your favourite gemstone?
Labradorite at the moment, it’s quite plain on first glance but I love the flashes of iridescent colour, it’s unpredictable.
What music do you listen to in your workshop?
The radio is always on in the workshop, there is a little routine of radio 4 in the morning, woman’s hour is a firm favourite, there are so many interesting things that I have learnt about from listening to it. 6 music in the afternoon for some light-relief, we listen to Radcliffe and Maconie which is a nice mix of new music and old classics. If I work in the evenings I tend to listen to four extra, I like the dramas and classic novel serialisations.
Where is your favourite place to escape too?
I love islands, the smaller and the more remote the better… I went to Skye for the first time a few weeks ago. It took us a whole day to drive there but it was truly breath taking. The blurring of land being in the sea and sea being in the land makes it really special. It felt so unspoilt with so much wildlife, we saw seals, sea eagles, beautiful wild flowers, coral beaches, waterfalls… I would like to visit a lot more of the Scottish islands.
What was the last exhibition you went to?
I went down to London with the children over the Easter holidays and saw the Impressionist exhibition at the National Gallery. It was a beautiful exhibition and great for putting the artworks into the context of what was happening in the art world at that time. The children seemed to really enjoy it as well – my parents took me to lots of Art Galleries when I was little which I am very grateful for now, I want to pass on a love and appreciation for the visual arts to my children. My 6 year old son already talks very passionately about Henri Rousseau and Paul Klee.
You’re a very creative person, what is the best non-jewellery thing you have created?
The legendary ‘Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits over two stools cake’! That was where I reached the pinnacle of my cake making achievements, previous cakes included Peppa Pig, Gruffalo, Octonauts gup-b, Jake and the Netherland pirates ship. The Jean-Claude cake was for my friends 40th birthday, this was her favourite scene of all time and had talked incredibly passionately about it on many occasions for the whole 20 years I’d known her. It was very technically demanding, taking around 2 days to make and involved a fair bit of doweling… she loved it though!
What is your most treasured piece of jewellery?
Can I have two? My most treasured piece is my wedding ring and engagement ring set made by the lovely Ruth Tomlinson, for obvious sentimental reasons and because the rings are beautiful! My favourite piece is my Felieke Van der Leest ‘sharky boy’ brooch that my husband brought me back from Amsterdam last year. I have been in love with Felieke’s jewellery since I was introduced to it at a lecture she gave in around 2000 to accompany a Dutch jewellery exhibition that was taking place in London at the time. I like the humour and out-right craziness of her pieces, she has an amazing imagination.
If you could make any piece of jewellery what would it be and look like?
I have a vintage toy garden set where there are little flower beds you put tiny little flowers into, vegetable plots, stone walls, fences, lawns, greenhouses, tiny little rollers, wheel barrows, trees etc. you arrange them in different ways to make gardens with borders of flowers. I would like to make a whole garden in precious metals with tiny little flowers dotted with gemstones. The pieces could be arranged in different ways in the garden but could also be clipped together to create different ways of wearing the jewellery. I love miniature worlds and playfulness in jewellery.
What collections are you working on for later this year?
I am revisiting the dog show collection that was first designed at the beginning of the noughties. It will be updated to include gemstones but will still include the old favourite breeds of the sausage dog, Scottie, fox terrier and maybe a whippet… any other dog requests will be gratefully received!
Flora Bhattachary won the Unsigned Award last year, and in light of this year’s call for applications, we spoke to her about her jewellery, winning the Unsigned Award, and her time spent with EC One.
What inspired you to apply for your Unsigned award?
It was clear that previous applicants had gone on to do great things and I had always loved the aesthetic of EC One as a store. It was also a chance to get my work noticed and get some input from a retailer who understood the fashion jewellery market– so I didn’t have to think very hard about applying.
How has your jewellery and style developed since winning the award?
EC One have been working with me to scale things down in size and develop really wearable designs that can be produced more efficiently. I’m keen to maintain the bold aesthetic of my graduate work – because I think that my clients want to make a statement with their jewellery – but EC One’s input means that my next collection is likely to be more commercial.
How have you found the mentoring and chance to stock your work at EC One?
Jos and Alison have been super helpful. They have so much experience behind them and ultimately, they know what sells. You can design amazing looking work but unless it sells you haven’t got a business – so having their advice is invaluable.
Have you gone on to win any more awards since the year you won Unsigned?
I’ve had an amazing year in 2015. I won two silver Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Awards for fashion and silver precious metal jewellery and I’ve just won the New Designers’ One Year On Award.
Aside from winning the award, what other moments stand out from your time working with EC One?
The EC One team are really friendly – everyone is so enthusiastic and encouraging. When I won the New Designer’s One Year On Award I had an EC One posse visiting my stand at the Business Design Centre to congratulate me! It’s great to have that kind of support behind you.
In the very early hours of Monday morning, EC One girls, Myfanwy, Charlotte and Lauren, all met at Paddington station to get the Heathrow express. Four very sleepy hours later we arrived in a rainy but beautiful and lush Vreden, ready to be thrown into the world and home of Niessing.
Niessing’s factory is built in the centre of the town, being one of the oldest established companies in Vreden, surrounded by greenery and beautiful buildings. The factory is a wonderful, great 1960s building covering three floors which home everything from their offices to the workshops.
Despite only a few hours sleep, we enjoyed every moment. To begin our first day we were shown through the melting and recycling of metals, on to how they make their seamless wedding rings, fashion and set their world famous tension rings, and on the second day we talked through the design process for their true Niessing style jewellery.
At the end of our second day we were in for a treat – Niessing check every single diamond that comes into their company, to ensure that it can be set in the tension rings it needs to be of a certain quality so to not break and crush under the extreme pressure; clarity is of utmost importance. We were given a demonstration of this, viewing diamonds and certificates and the setting process.
However, it can be surely said that the true highlight was viewing the Heart &Arrow Cut Diamond – a round diamond that has a beautiful arrow head pattern when viewed from above, and heart shapes etched in the facets when viewed from below.
We’ve just had a brand new selection of rings come in from Niessing and can’t wait to show them all to you. Also, look out in the next few weeks for more information about how Niessing make their wedding rings, and how they set diamonds so they look like they’re floating!
On Saturday we held a refreshing summer event to spread some EC One love. It was a beautiful afternoon filled with high tea, personally engraved silver lockets, lots of punch, and goodie bags.
Customers, family and friends were all invited to come to our Exmouth Market store for the afternoon, and on arrival each lady was given a slip to write on it what they’d like to be engraved on a silver locket, gifted to them by EC One. A trend seemed to quickly appear with funny nicknames and married names, but there was also more thoughtful imagery depicting whole families, initials and logos.
We had lovely weather and everyone was feeling the heat by the end of the afternoon – what better time to give away a little goodie bag which enclosed a bottle of gin from the East London Liquor Company, Fever-Tree tonic and a glittery diamond shaped drink stirrer!
It was a lovely afternoon and we’d like to thank everyone who came, especially to our VIP ticket winner! We’ll be hosting a few events between now and Christmas so sign up to our newsletter here to be the first to know about them and to be in with the chance to win your own VIP tickets.
This Saturday 11th of July we’re hosting an exclusive private event for friends and clients. Enjoy an afternoon of high tea, punch and goodie bags!
For your chance to win 2 VIP tickets to the event which will be held 3-6pm at our Exmouth Market store all you need to do is email email@example.com with the names of you and a friend, and we’ll be in touch on Friday 10th July if you’re the lucky winners!!
Escape with our gemstone jewellery collection from Melissa McArthur
This season our Buyer’s Alison Skeates and Charlotte Kimber collaborated with jewellery designer Melissa McArthur on a very special collection; exclusively for our customers. Alison and Charlotte have long been lusting after the skinny and dainty jewellery favoured by the French. After trawling the shows at Paris fashion week they still didn’t manage to find quite the perfect jewels. They wanted soft corals and vibrant turquoise on delicate chain to create timeless gemstone jewellery. They managed to find their dream beads and took them to the queen of stones Melissa McArthur to help make their collection a reality. With an enviable array of beads from unusual cuts to rare gemstones, Melissa McArthur’s studio is a feast for the eyes!
After carefully picking through Melissa McArthur’s trays of gemstone jewels, Alison and Charlotte select their favourite styles for this season. They chose bold hoops and their favourite tiny bar bead necklaces.
Using a selection of our gemstones and some from Melissa’s treasure trove. Alison and Charlotte (with a lot of help from Melissa) carefully curated a blend of gemstones to create the perfect colour clash. For the Silver jewellery collection the used a mixture of Turquoise, Appatite, Carnelian, Mother of Pearl and Jasper.
Alison and Charlotte mixed warm summer tones of vivid pink Ruby, Carnelian, Mother of Pearl and Coral. Each piece of jewellery is handmade by Melissa and her team and due to the natural beauty of each stone every piece of jewellery that is created is unique.
So whether you are treating yourself or spoiling someone else we think our exclusive collection of gemstone jewellery by Melissa McArthur is the perfect jewellery box update this summer! Shop the collection in store and online .
It was the Retail Jeweller’s UK Jewellery Awards 2015 last week, and we were very
pleased to have been Highly Commended as Independent Retailer of the Year!
We had a wonderful night out at the Tower of London, and couldn’t have asked for
Harry Levy was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I have bought stones from him since I was 18 years Old, he’s a legend.”
– Jos Skeates
Why not pop-in to our beautiful Exmouth Market Boutique and be inspired by our
On Friday the 8th of May our Assistant Buyer Charlotte headed off to The Victoria & Albert Museum to hear jewellery designer Shaun Leane talk about his collaborative work with Alexander McQueen.
Amongst the decadent silverware, ornate ceilings and artefact laden cabinets of the Victoria & Albert Museum dwells their lecture theatre. Infront of a packed room of jewellery enthusiasts, jewellery designer Shaun Leane gave a passionate talk about his collaborative work with the late Alexander McQueen and how The House of Shaun Leane developed its iconic style. Leane spoke about the evolution of both of their house styles, and how McQueen helped him to develop his signature look a combination of “strength and elegance”. McQueen wanted to create clothes that empowered women, Leane designed the jewellery; body armour to clad the modern female warrior.“It propelled me to a status of fashion jewellery; taking body adornment to a different level’.
Both designers are traditionally trained, McQueen as a tailor on Saville Row and Leane as a Goldsmith in Hatton Garden restoring antique jewellery. Leane and McQueen had long been friends before collaborators. Leane explained how McQueen didn’t fully understand what he did for a living until he visited the atelier he worked in where he was constructing a tiara. McQueen was taken aback by the craftmanship and quality of the work; it was not long after this that Leane was asked to make jewellery for his catwalk shows. Leane spoke about how McQueen pushed his craftmaship to the limit, and how he grew whilst learning new skills such as silversmithing, modelmaking and taxidermy. Leane let us in on the months he spent drying out pheasant claws in his mother’s airing cupboard to create the pheasant claw & pearl shoulder piece for the “ What a Merry go Round” show.
The working relationship began with McQueen asking Leane to produce work to coincide with the show, developing to McQueen showing Leane work and the pair both inspiring each other. Initially the large scale work was made in aluminium, an alien material to a trained Goldsmith such as Leane. At the heart of the House of Shaun Leane was the desire to work in the precious materials he was trained in, and as both of the designer houses grew the materials changed also. At the beginning finances had restricted Leane’s materials but not his craftmasnship and creativity. When the budgets grew he applied the same ethos allowing him to create the most show stopping jewels of the catwalk to date. Using his Goldsmith training he created beautiful new silhoettes and drew upon his years restoring antique jewellery. For the ”In Memory of Elizabeth How” show, he created the large Moon neckpiece in Silver fully set with moon stones, and a Victorian style star headpiece set with Topaz Swarovoski gemstones. This lavish show of jewellery, excited and revolutionised the boundaries of catwalk and fine jewellery for the modern era.
Leane reminisced about how he would turn up at the shows with his box of jewels for the models to wear as the finishing touches to McQueen’s collections. For the “Dante” Show he created a crown of thorns; laboriously working constructing the branches and thorns in silver. Upon revealing it to McQueen he got a “MMMmmmm”, Leane was not used to this response and on pressing McQueen he revealed he felt the piece needed more thorns. Leane had felt the same but held back, it was this “MMMmmmm” that taught Leane to be fearless with his jewellery and to create the bold and beautiful jewellery he is renowned for. The jewellery would fluctuate seasonally between statement neckpieces incrusted with silver orchids to fine silver wire earrings which would glisten as the models strutted the catwalk.
The coiled corset which became one of the most enduring images of McQueen’s work was just a seed planted in Leane’s head by McQueen. Both designers had a fascination with tribal body adornment . McQueen had wanted to elaborate on the earlier neckpiece created by Leane for his catwalk show “It’s a Jungle out there”. Leane spoke about how McQueen would challenge you to make the impossible possible. After McQueen planted an idea in leane’s head, he would spend a sleepless night working out the mechanics of making the dream designs a reality. With the coiled corset he decided they would have to make it the traditional Nepalese way and he would have to make it to fit a specific model. Leane cast McQueen’s fit model in concrete and then individually forged the aluminium coils, layering front to back. Leane let us in to the secret of its construction, using a mechanic’s glue which had metal fragments. Created for McQueen’s show “The Overlook”, the construction is the ulitamte body armour, framing the curves of the female form. It is this delicate balance which defines the era of Leane and McQueens work and still influences the House of Shaune Leane today.
To coincide with the “Savage Beauty” exhibition at The Victoria & Albert Museum, Leane has launched his latest collection “Quill”. Drawing upon elaborate ear cuffs created for the Irere show. Ear adornment and the way earrings are worn has been a long source of fascination for Leane. At the end of a Safari holiday Leane was in a rural gift shop buying trinkets to take home, at the till he noticed a pot of black and white sticks, he enquired as to whether they were for sale and bought the entire pot. These sticks turned in to the porcupine quill ear cuff, with Leane recreating the pattern on these special stake style earrings as part of the Quill collection.
Leane’s collections draw upon the opulent pieces created for McQueen’s catwalk, with his darkly romantic jewels a wearable form of exstravagant corsets, crowns of thorns. Leane’s iconic hook motif is his Signature Tusk collection evolved on the catwalk.
I had the privilege of interning for Shaun Leane during the preparation for The Savage Beauty Exhibition at The Met. I remember being down in the archives trying to find these amazing pieces amongst mountains of tissue paper and boxes. It was a joy to unearth large spears, ear discs and Silver jaw bones. I am looking to own my own piece of catwalk jewellery history and will be investing in the Porcupine Quill Earrings for my jewellery box.
You can shop Shaun Leane’s collections instore and online here
Our annual event, Open Call, invites jewellery designers to come and see us for one day only, to seek advice and a professional opinion on their work. We had the first designers knocking on the door shortly before 10am and we didn’t stop talking till nearly 6pm. There were so many budding designers willing to show us their work and it was an absolute pleasure to see it all, try it on and offer the best guidance we could!
Whether they are established jewellers showing fully formed collections or part time designers working out where they sit in the market, each designer had a 15 minute appointment with both of our buyers Alison and Charlotte, and a second appointment with our head Goldsmith Jude Huntley. During these appointments they received one to one mentoring on everything from how to finesse the manufacture of their work to price points, customer bases and wearability.
They were all bursting with great passion about their work and how to move their collections further, we came away with a real excitement for jewellery – you can’t help but get swept up by their enthusiasm.
Sorry to all of those that we couldn’t manage to fit in on the day, but we already can’t wait for next time, so keep an eye out if you’d like to join in next year!
“It is always enjoyable meeting people as passionate about jewellery as we are! Alison, Jude and I met a range of designers, from those wishing to develop a hobby into a job to people coming back to the trade after a long absence. What I love most about holding our open call is that every party learns from it, for the designers it is how to approach the right jewellers for their work and how to build, develop and grow a collection. With one budding brand I learnt that the “Love lock” phenomenon actually started high up in the mountains in China. There were so many different designs with rib cage rings forming perfectly to the finger, striking double sided earrings built from layered wire appearing like sculptural adornment, to fretwork lockets of Shakespere’s “Romeo & Juliet” . We saw some covetable jewels which I would love to have in my jewellery box.” Charlotte, our Assistant Buyer.