Heidi Garnett Selects
NYC based luxury expert and jewellery aficionado Heidi Garnett is known in the industry for co-founding the illustrious jewellery club Gem X. Over lockdown she hosted the Zoom series Gemflix, which brought jewellery lovers from across the world together to bond over their shared adoration for precious gems, metals and everything in between.
A talented writer, Heidi has appeared in many publications including the Wall Street Journal. See her selection of Goldsmiths’ Fair 2021 exhibitors below.
When I moved to London from New York City several years ago, one of my favourite discoveries was the Goldsmiths’ Fair. It was a feeling close to awe the first time I wandered around the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall lit up with the gleam of the finest jewellery and silversmithing in the UK. I spent hours walking around talking with designers and trying on every piece I could get my hands on.
Everyone who has been to the Fair understands that having the opportunity to select five “favourite pieces” from amongst this extraordinary collection is an honour, and also impossible. While I have far more favourites than space, there are five that stand out. All have a tactile quality. Something I have found I appreciate all the more after a time when visiting new places and touching new objects suddenly could not be taken for granted. Each piece is clearly handmade with beautiful textures, sculptural movement and the lustre of wrought metal. The kind of pieces I can’t help but reach out to touch.
Against Nature: Buttercup by Christopher Thompson Royds
Christopher Thompson Royds continues to create some of the most extraordinary flowers I have seen. This talent has earned his work spots in some of the most exclusive collections in the world, like the Victoria & Albert Museum. But where previous pieces had the ethereal beauty of pressed flowers, this year his flowers have put down figurative roots and for the first time blossomed into three-dimensional objects set with diamonds. There is a lovely sassiness as well as a classiness to the Buttercup earrings, which look as beautiful on as they do in their sculptural stands—or twirled between your fingers.
Blue Ocean Earrings by Francesca Marcenaro
A selection of jewellery never feels complete without statement earrings. The Blue Ocean earrings by Francesca Marcenaro are one magical statement. Using enamel and a signature technique called “glass granulation”—inspired by the traditional process of granulation in which tiny spheres of metal are applied by hand to a surface—Ms. Marcenaro somehow manages to create jewels that appear to shine and shimmer with an inner light. These earrings are a beautiful colour, they use texture to great effect, and I love how the silver and gemstone bubbles sparkle on their surface.
Floral Earrings by Jessica Jue
gold and silver into delicate, organic forms. She has the rare ability to find movement in metal. Despite the impossibility, I would feel surprised were her beautiful Floral earrings not to flutter in a breeze. Beyond jewellery, Ms. Jue creates spellbinding beakers, vases, jugs and even shot glasses. Each piece is distinctly hers. I highly recommend a stroll through her Instagram feed (@jessicajue_jewellery) when you have some time, where she takes viewers behind the scenes and shares what goes into her creations—hammers, flames and all.
Pinky Promise Ring by Jenny House
The Pinky Promise ring by Jenny House, founder of her brand Origin 31, is simple, yet it manages to capture a feeling and memories that many of us have from childhood. Playful and nostalgic are two words that describe jewellery by Jenny, which also includes pieces like the Rock Candy Band ring and the “Marry Me” ring (a proposal ring that bears those very words). The ring made me smile, and also left me planning who will share my next pinky promise.
Caldera Ring by Emefa Cole
A visit to the Fair must include a tour of its exhibition “Rings from the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection 1961–2021.” If you are a member of Gem X, you might have had the wonderful opportunity to hear Goldsmiths’ Company Curators Dr. Dora Thornton and Dr. Frances Parton discuss the exhibition last Wednesday alongside a handling session of exceptional jewels from their vault. The Caldera ring, a more recent acquisition, is a piece they spoke about, noting how Ms. Cole uses the ancient lost-wax carving technique to create pieces that are revolutionary, new and bold.
A deep reverence for handmade craftsmanship can be seen in the ring. In addition to casing her jewels using hand-carved wax models, Ms. Cole has spoken about the influence upon her work of watching a potter raising traditional clay vessels at his wheel as a child in Ghana. These influences are apparent in the smooth oxidized silver and textured gold leaf vessel of the Caldera ring. Inspired by the void left after a volcano erupts, the ring is anything but empty. I’ve heard it sits beautifully on the finger, large enough to lightly rest on each finger on either side.
International Introducing: Leen Heyne from the Netherlands
To close, the Goldsmiths’ Fair asked me to share a piece by one international maker who has not exhibited at the Fair before. The Ring Fold by Dutch jeweller Leen Heyne immediately sprang to mind. When I asked Mr. Heyne about the ring he said, “I draw my inspiration from the character of the material, taking great notice of the form it wants to take, following its nature.” In his hands, the nature of metal appears to be flowing silk. Certainly, a piece I want to reach out to touch.
If you would like to learn more about Mr. Heyne, good news: in a few weeks, Mr. Heyne will be a guest speaker on Gemflix, the Gem X series of online talks about jewellery. Our guest host, another talented maker and fellow member of the club named Stephanie Carendi, will speak with Mr. Heyne about his inspiration and process. All the details will be posted on the Gem X Instagram @gemxclub.
I’ll be sharing some more about each of these extraordinary designers and what touched me about their work on Instagram @heidielizabethgarnett. What stood out to you at the Fair this year? I’d love to hear what you think.