Hidden Depths

World Tour Beads

 

This July saw the arrival of Trollbeads exciting new selection of World Tour beads and what better way to mark the occasion than to celebrate with our customers by offering sweet treats and champagne, giving out goody bags and holding a raffle with the opportunity of winning a £50 voucher to spend in store! Not surprisingly the event was a hit and both we and our customers thoroughly enjoyed ourselves that Sunday afternoon.

Autumn / Winter 2012

But just when you thought that Trollbeads might have packed their schedule to the brim manufacturing over 50 beads from our International neighbours as well as designing their new autumn collection, they then decide to coincide this with the arrival of their new range of Universal Unique Malwai beads!
As a family run business one wonders how on earth they manage to fit it all in, they really never cease to amaze!  Nonetheless this new collection is just as special as everything else Troll brings to its followers, if not (dare I say it) even more so in the amount of spirit founder Lise Aagaard has put into establishing the project.

Malawi Universal Uniques

Lise Aagaard and the Malawi team

This is a development that gives a well-built sense of optimism to a challenged group of around a dozen young people from Malawi who between them have varying issues in their personal life, whether these be in relation to their own health or loss of family to AIDS. Speaking of the project the Trollbeads founder gave words on her strong aspiration to lend a hand to bettering the lives of others;

 

“I am now in the position to help others. I believe the best way to do so is to help them create an existence for themselves, providing help for self help is close to my heart”.

By offering the opportunity to learn the art of glass making first hand from someone that is at the forefront of jewellery design, Lise Aagaard has given a window of hope to those less fortunate.
Each bead tells a unique story, inspired by the idiosyncrasies of the life of the maker in question which in turn forms a truly personal collection.
By all of the beads being ‘Universal Uniques’ the design not only fits onto Troll bracelets but also other leading branded bracelets so everyone can enjoy the artistry, thus giving a wider prospect in terms of commerce and sending the collective on its way to becoming completely self sufficient!

In times like these with such an unvarying inflation throughout the high street prices, it’s hard as both a consumer and a retailer not to allow oneself to get too wrapped up in cynical thoughts on where this leave the buyer and the merchant.
But then projects such as this allow us to stop for a moment and gain a little perspective on what is really important right now, generating opportunities for those less privileged, the unemployed both here and overseas. Many of us are struggling in some way but that doesn’t mean we can’t take the time to give a little back.

This brings me to my next account of an ethical jewellery venture, which too is led by the same form of premise as is held by Lise Aagaard and is just as fresh off the press.
It goes by the name of Cornerstone and while being a completely different project this and Trollbeads are united through the mutual ethical concepts that are the driving force behind these organisations.

Cornerstone started its life back in 2011 when distinguished jewellery designer Paul Spurgeon took a trip to South Africa where he led lectures to small businesses, sharing the personal philosophies behind his brand. It was there that he was struck by the work of local jeweller Nqobile Nkosi who has become the first person to ever open a jewellery store in his home town of Soweto.
Inspired by such revolutionary movements Paul has since collaborated with Nqobile to form the project as a means of progression, taking such labours of love out of Africa and into Europe.

Currently the designs comprise mostly of silver and enamel due to the current market and project funds, through time as business flourishes Nqobile and his team hope to gain full independence of, with the prospect to expand their horizons both artistically and within industry; and it is the proceeds from the project that will go towards turning this vision into a reality.

 

The brand was officially launched at The Jewellery Show in Birmingham earlier this year and this was swiftly followed by the support of The Jewellery Show London and Treasure in their naming Cornerstone as their Social Enterprise partner for the June show at Somerset House. Meanwhile Weston Beamor have offered a helping hand in providing all of the casting and silver for free and in August Paul organised a sponsored bike ride from London to Paris to raise further funds as well as to promote interest within trade press and further afield.

These projects prove to consumers that when it comes to jewellery, there need not be any reason to compromise on style when choosing to direct the focus on ethical means of manufacturing. Who would know, when viewing these collections that established designers such as Paul and Lise were working with ethical motives? The fact that the making of these pieces is done with such conscious makes each one all the more candid and unique and just goes to show that there really is more than meets the eye when it comes to big name designers.

 

 

For further information on the Malawi Universal Unique beads as well as other Trollbead and Paul Spurgeon products available please visit our website.

Ethnic-inspired elegance with The Branch collection

These past few days, I have found myself donning my warmest winter wares once again to brave the unpredictable British weather, such a far cry from the blistering Egyptian heat I was encountering a mere week ago.

After a busy start to 2012, I relished the opportunity to relax and replace my heavy winter woollies with fresh and exciting summer pieces, both within my wardrobe and jewellery collection. The choice of bolder pieces of jewellery seemed apt to suit warmer climates and the surroundings of the Middle East. Locations such as this conjured up mental images of jewellery that is deeply rooted within an ethnic aesthetic we associate with a history of Warrior Queens and Goddesses. These women adorned themselves as an expression of empowerment and social status, as well as seductively accentuating the female form.

Ancient civilisations played a key part in the history of jewellery design, with some of the earliest recorded jewellery found dating back over 90,000 years before the Christian era. However it was really within founding cultures, such as the Egyptians along with Mayan (South America), Enkoni (Turkey) and Harappans (of India) that consideration for the decorative aspect of design within the making    of these pieces began to emerge.

Typically, Egyptians preferred the use of gold in their craft for luxury and durability. However, the sourcing of materials for the purpose of jewellery design opened up the floodgates to a whole number of new materials for the time, allowing a subsequent expansion of trade across borders.

 

Each country’s approach to design influenced another, as trade allowed people to be inspired by what was available and what they saw occurring overseas. Even now we allow ourselves to look to other civilisations and ‘tribes’ for fashion inspiration. Throughout the last decade, we have seen a resurgence of statement design within the jewellery domain. This goes to show how much all culture, be it past or present, influences our fashion trends.

Such external influences are important at a time when the demand for precious metals has caused prices to rise staggeringly, so that it no longer has the same availability to us now as it will have done to past civilizations. As a result, we must be open to the idea of the use of alternative materials and look elsewhere for inspiration.

A designer to have done just that is Wendy Pickard, founder of ethical jewellery brand – The Branch. Her sought after wooden jewellery has been worn by A-list stars such as Gwenyth Paltrow and Kelly Rowland and is regularly featured in all of the high-end fashion magazines. Stocked in over 100 luxury UK boutiques, this range really flies the flag for sustainable, ethical, ethnic jewellery through the use of wood as the main component. The Branch also holds true to the lavish nature of jewellery design by accompanying it with semi-precious stones and smatterings of gold and silver detailing.

Wendy had always been a traveller, inspired by trips to Indonesia, building up a collection of crystals and quartz along the way. It was during her visit to Africa that she was inspired by the boldness of the indigenous jewellery and set about commissioning a wood carver to make a selection of pieces. Keen to create more, but also maintain an ethical source of wood, she relocated the workshop to Indonesia where a group of talented craftsmen were available.

Finding unconventional materials that still manage to embody the expensive finish that jewellery commands is a difficult task in itself, matched with the imposing factor of a material that is also physically difficult to work with, shows the complete ingenuity in this grand scheme. Only the very best craftsmanship could create this collection, which is why Wendy has outsourced people who have a detailed knowledge and understanding of such materials, therefore not only supporting the use of environmentally conscious resources but also sociological.

There is no need for complicated design, the simple choices of the shapes accentuate the natural marbling of the wood and the clouding of the Agates make each piece unique. Understated design allows the collection to lend itself to all directions of fashion, with its versatile nature giving the potential to be placed not only with a bright summer wardrobe but an autumn and winter one too.

 

Above all, it is down to the fantastic finish of each and every piece within The Branch collection that allows it to be categorised differently from other ‘crafty’ jewellery, placing it firmly in the high-end field. It is most definitely the materials that speak for themselves.