New for spring!

Since completing my home improvements last year, I have found this enthusiasm for renovation has spilled over into the shop. I have really tried to look at the shop with fresh eyes and feel it is time for Argent to receive a facelift. Our last refit was over 17 years ago, and although I feel this has really stood the test of time, there are a few things that need updating. Our outlet floor was originally an experiment but its success over the last two years has encouraged me to make it into a permanent feature, we will be moving some cabinets upstairs in order to maintain a professional feel and maximise the use of space.

I’m excited to be making plans for the future of Argent but in the meantime we are looking forward to some new collections arriving in the shop.

Having recently returned from this year’s Jewellery trade fair at the NEC in Birmingham I am filled with new ideas and inspiration for Argent, and one of the brands I have discovered is ‘UNO de 50’. The brand utilises leather, Swarovski crystals, mother of pearl, handcrafted crystals and silver-plated base metal, and each piece is 100% handcrafted in Spain. The combination of colour and materials creates bold statement pieces that have a chunky boho vibe. This more casual look is completely different from anything else we have in the shop, and I feel UNO de 50 would be a welcome addition to our range of brands and designers at Argent, where we endeavour to provide a wide assortment of jewellery to suit any price range and taste.

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In recent years I’ve taken the decision to downscale our stock of diamond  jewellery but I do feel there is a lack of choice on the highstreet when it comes to wedding bands. I still want to be able to use my expertise in precious jewellery to cater for wedding ring customers and have decided to invest in the Contour Wedding Ring Collection by Prism Design. This is a brand I trust implicitly: within two weeks of graduating, I went to work for Barry and Sally (the husband and wife team who founded Prism Design) in the idyllic, picture-postcard village of Bradford on Avon. This was such a lovely experience for me and what I learnt during my time there gave me invaluable insight into the jewellery industry, it has been so nice to reconnect with them thirty years later, it seems fitting to return to my roots.

contour-catalogue-300x300 The Contour Collection showcases over 150 shaped wedding rings and is one of the largest collections in the UK. With over fifteen years experience, technological advancements in 3D scanning and the utilisation of CAD, Prismare able to offer an exclusive bespoke service where a wedding band can be created which perfectly complements any engagement ring, no matter what its shape, size or complexity of design. These can be made to any requirement in a wide array of metals, including white, yellow and rose gold, palladium and platinum.

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We are also looking forward to receiving new pieces from some of our existing designers including Trollbeads, Chlobo, Kit Heath, Cornerstone and Alex Monroe.

 

Trollbeads’ new Spring 2017 collection ‘Kindred Spirits’, is a continuation of the brand’s whimsical aesthetic. The collection offers a variety of new silver beads all based around a magical fairy theme, which brings back so many nostalgic childhood memories. This new collection includes six glass beads which can be bought separately or as a set, the ‘Enchanted Days Kit‘. One of these beads in particular has an internal framework pattern which I have never seen in their glass beads before.

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This collection really showcases the unique craftsmanship of Trollbeads and the way they are constantly evolving, there is little wonder why customers eagerly anticipate these exciting new releases!

I have had a sneak preview of Chlobo’s spring summer collection ‘Maya’s Light’ which is on a spiritual theme with new charms representing balance, positivity and serenity. It incorporates sterling silver and rose gold along with blue lace agate which has calming, protective qualities and promotes inner stability for it’s wearer, and white moonstone which is known to bring a pure energy and success in love. For the first time they have introduced sets of two bracelets each enhanced with the luxury feel and sparkle of cubic zirconia. These new designs will be available in April, Chlobo never fail to deliver and I’m excited to see which new pieces I can add to my personal collection, I particularly like the ‘Dreamcatcher’ necklace in rose gold.

Kit Heath’s new designs draw inspiration from asymetrical natural forms with an edgy, contemporary aesthetic, as always they offer high quality designs across a spectrum of styles and price points.

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I still love Cornerstone’s ‘cradle’ collection and am looking forward to the arrival of some new additions. A simple teardrop shape provides the focal point for each piece and the designs incorporate cubic zirconia, rose gold and black rhodium finishes to create a timeless yet contemporary aesthetic. Paul Spurgeon, the award winning designer behind Cornerstone Creations has developed a brand with a conscience through his charity collaboration with craftspeople in South Africa.

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Alex Monroe’s new collection entitled ‘Entomology’ is due to arrive in April. It features moths, butterflies and beetles in different colour combinations which I think will be well received by fans of his popular bee necklace. My favourite piece is the gold vermeil and green amethyst damsellfly stud earrings which are exquisite.

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Looking to the future I am contemplating the introduction of handmade cards and luxury artisan accessories. I’ve had my eye on a particular designer who designs and makes leather handbags.I feel the role of the independent store is to source and represent up and coming designers. Whilst I recognise that bigger brands are an integral part of my business it is important to me to bring an element of variety and individuality to the highstreet.

 

Joys of Spring

 

I love this time of the year, after the clocks have gone forward, the extra hour really makes a difference and seeing the daffodils in bloom gives you that springtime lift.

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Trollbeads have managed to capture the essence of Spring with their new Daffodil Tassel bead, ‘a symbol of new birth and beginnings, the daffodil lets us know that spring is here’. It’s part of the mythical, magical Easter collection from Trollbeads which also features two new silver beads and a lock.

A silver Easter Dragon bead, ‘a dragon as a freind means joy, magic and adventures’ and a Dragon Lock, ‘guard my treasures with courage and fire’.

The Dragon Egg bead, ‘The egg cracks and out comes new life, luck and magic. A baby dragon is born’

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Here at Argent we’re all looking forward to series five of Game of Thrones on the 13th April, the Dragons Egg bead reminds us of the eggs guarded by the character Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons.

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If you know a Trollbeads collector the beads in the Dragon Egg bead would make a great Easter gift.

We have quite a few other Easter and Spring themed pieces in stock at the moment. One of my favourite new collections is Linda Macdonald’s quirky illustrative jewellery.L McDonald BunnyThe cute rabbit necklace is part of her Enchanted Collection, ‘inspired by nature and animals frolicking in the sun’, she uses flower, heart and bird motifs in all her work.

 

Continuing on a Spring theme we also have lots of new work in from Reeves & Reeves including the animal sillhouette necklaces, the stags head pendant was very popular at Christmas and it looks like the Hare and Hen are going to be top sellers this season. Perfect for Easter, their beautiful egg pendants on long chains are bang on trend with the fashion for layering necklaces. I do love the layered look!R&R Eggs2R&R HareR&R Hen Egg

 

Looking ahead to the next few weeks I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of new collections from some of my favourite designers including Shaun Leane and Chlobo……..watch this space!

Happy Easter!

Designer of the Month – November

Shaun Leane, four times winner of ‘UK Jewellery Designer of the Year’ is our ‘Designer of the Month’ for November!images

Shaun is internationally celebrated for pushing the boundries of jewellery design.Trained in Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery quarter, his idea of fusing fashion with tradition introduced an exciting element to fine jewellery.index

Working alongside his good friend, the late Alexander McQueen, Shaune Leane is responsible for creating some of the most iconic catwalk pieces we have seen to date. Spanning a period of fifteen years this collaboration with McQueen brought him international recognition.

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Alongside his collections and catwalk jewellery he also produces bespoke pieces for private clients including Sarah jessica Parker and Daphne Guiness.

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His work has been described by London’s prestigious auction house, Sotherby’s, as ‘antiques of the future’. Darkly romantic and beautifully crafted, Shaun Leane’s signature style is strong refined and elegant.shaun-leane-boucheron-queen-of-the-night-necklace-openring

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A firm favourite of mine, in fact the only earrings I wear, are Shaun’s Signature Tusk long earrings (I’m embarrassed to say I have them in every colour!). They are constantly admired and truly come alive when worn, the sculptural shape of the tusk catches the light with every movement and the classical elegance of the design makes it a winner day or night, whatever the occassion.signature tusk

Meet the Staff. A little bit about me………

imageClaire Douglas (Owner/Director)

I’ m planning on introducing you to the staff at Argent over the next few months so I thought I should start with a little bit about myself.

 

I studied at……. Birmingham School of Jewellery for a BA Hons in Jewellery and Silversmithing.

When I was growing up I wanted to be…….. an Air Hostess, it seemed like such a glamorous job but now it wouldn’t appeal to me at all. I think I could have enjoyed being an Interior Designer and nearly chose that course over Jewellery but I think Jewellery has served me well.

Favourite piece of jewellery that I own…….. Shaun Leane signature long tusk earrings.

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Piece of jewellery that I aspire to have…….. the 18ct white gold and diamond set version of the Shaun Leane long tusk earrings.

I can’t live without…….. my boys (my husband, two gorgeous sons and labradoodle dog).

Favourite pastime…….. walking my dog Billy or sharing coffee and cake with close friends.

Favourite restaurant in Leeds…….. Shear’s Yard, not only is the food excellent and beautifully presented but the restaurant has happy memories for me as we used to go each year for the Argent Christmas party.ShearsYard

 

 

Best holiday ever…….. two weeks spent travelling around Tuscany and Umbria, beautiful. Next year it’s my 50th birthday and I would love to go to Bali, the very first range of jewellery I bought was Balinese and now Chlobo is one of my favourites, I think it would be an inspirational trip!Bnq_1RZIIAA6pjV

 

 

Highlight of my job…….. feeling like I’ve really connected with customers, many have become my friends.

One thing I’m most excited about at the moment……..  our 25th Anniversary event in the shop on 11th October! I’m really looking forward to celebrating with our customers so many of whom have become good friends over the years.

Favourite perfume……. Molecule byMolecule1 Escentric

 

 

 

Favourite film…….. Barbarella, Edward Scissorhands, Moulin Rouge. Book….. anything by Penny Vincenzi – pure escapism.

Favourite jewellery designer…….. A difficult one, I have many…… Shaun Leane (of course), Alex Monroe and Chlobo. I’m thrilled to be getting a Chlobo cabinet installed in the shop, the range is so wearable, it’s described as ‘boho chic’. I love the story behind the range and I’m always excited to see the new collections which are inspired fashion and current trends.Bf3eQnxIQAA4HBPIMG_1644

 

 

 

 

In the holiday mood

Having just returned from a lovely break in Tenerife I’m definitely feeling the chilled out holiday vibe.

I was thrilled that the new ‘Let’s Dance’ Chlobo collection arrived at the shop just in time to help me put together my beach look. I loved adding a pop of colour to my gold Chlobo stacking bracelets.

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As designer Chloe says, “The ‘Let’s Dance’ collection captures the fun mood of the summer season and brings to mind beach holidays, lazy days by the sea and long summer nights dancing under the stars.”

I love the way Chloe has introduced the neon look with tassels in coloured thread. In the core collection the silver tassel is used as a symbol of protection, translated into neon colours it gives this new collection a more casual and funky feel and the vibrant colours bring a fun, fashion element to the summer collection, reflecting this seasons trends.goldturqnkhearthamsa

 

 

 

Another favourite for summer holidays is the Lucky Eyes collection, their ‘Monaco’ friendship bracelets come in a variety of semi-precious stones with contrasting silk cords, representing on trend summer colours. The diamanté set rose gold vermeil adds a sparkle which allows you to take the look through to the evening.lucky eyes

 

It was great to come back to sunshine, and with a bit of a tan! I can finally ditch the black boots and winter woolies and feel at one with my new collection of Chlobo neon brights.

Bonkers about Bangles


This week’s summer story is on the subject of Bangles, which are undoubtedly this season’s wardrobe staple when it comes to accessorizing.
Top catwalk shows from designers across the globe were littered with wrist wear in an array of forms, with the implicit premise that any statement summer outfit required a form of jewellery equal in its boldness to complete the look.
So with three key summer trends in mind, here is a pick of just some of the bangles we have to offer at Argent.

Sportswear
Think minimal and futuristic with clean lines and simple shapes, materials may include plastics, a typical trait of designers such as Sarah Packington and Lesley Strickland, but also an adventurous and cutting edge use of silver and
gold plate with Stubbs and Co’s textile like bangles, with simple twists and knotted detailing.

 


Ethnic
Boldness in print and in colour, oversized statement pieces with a use of varied contemporary materials such as wood and plastic perfectly fit the criteria of both Lesley Strickland and The Branch. Whilst these designers choice of materials is opposing they both remain highly similar in their organic appearance.


Ladylike

Elegance and intricacy are the two main principles held by this seasons ‘ladylike’ clean image when it comes to jewellery. Such class is realized through the use of polished metals such as gold and silver, which stand alone and proud with Ntinga’s magnetic mesh bangles. Meanwhile wrist wear from Nomination and The Branch sees the use of gold as a setting for semi precious stones such as agates and quartzs, Nomination’s ‘Extension’ bracelets offer a selection of natural hard stones, 18ct yellow gold detailing and stainless steel for an affordable and classic Italian aesthetic.

You can shop all of these looks and more on our website and instore.

 

 

The ever-changing habits of a jewellery customer

As a small independent jeweller, we really get to know our customers and we are known for being able to recognise faces and names of people who visit the shop.

There is one thing in particular we notice from our customers, and that’s the habits and tastes of what they like. We pride ourselves on the range of jewellery collections and designers we stock, as we hope to offer something that will appeal to everyone.

Changing trends
We’ve noticed a definite change in the habits of jewellery customers, who are moving to the more well-known and recognised branded pieces. As I mentioned in my last post, the Shamballa trend is becoming increasingly popular, as well as the significant move into charm ranges such as Lovelinks, Trollbeads and Thomas Sabo. The attraction of these sorts of pieces is that they provide easy and affordable gifts for family and friends to buy for their loved ones. It’s a great idea to get a charm bracelet for someone as a gift as not only can they add to it themselves to create an individual piece, but it means there is a gift for every occasion.

To stay ahead of this trend we’ve bought in the Italian charm bracelet by the Italian brand, Nomination, where you can put together an individual and personal charm bracelet in a completely new and innovative way to those which are so popular now. Argent is the only stockist in Leeds to hold Nomination bracelets.

Shaun Leanne’s collection has also become far more popular since appearing in fashion magazines, on the catwalk and being worn by a range of current celebrities.

The changing consumer
When the shop first started out as a stall at the Granary Wharf, it was more craft orientated and tourist based. Weekends were incredibly busy as the market would offer new themes and events to keep people coming. It was described as the Camden of Leeds.

When the shop made a move to the city centre there was a shift to more ‘designer’ ranges as well as giftware. More branded ranges were introduced and then we took on the bead and charm trends to keep up with the trend and to extend our customer base.

Because we’ve been here for so long (24 years) we’ve noticed that in times of recession the public seem to be drawn to glitz and glamour, which helps to create a feel good factor during a more bleak time. In times like these it’s ranges such as those with Swarovski crystals that appear to sell well. However in more affluent times, people appear to downplay their jewellery with matt finishes and pieces which are more demure. I can see charm bracelets and the layering of jewellery – especially on the arms and around the neck – being here to stay for a while as popular looks among customers.
I find that customers are very brand away and are more driven by reality TV shows and celebrities when it comes to choosing jewellery now, as celebrities often help them to feel more confident and assured when it comes to picking jewellery.

Price point
There’s been a definite reduction in what customers will spend now. We have always been renowned as a silver shop first and foremost but we do sell a lot of platinum/ 18ct gold jewellery. There has been a noticeable correlation between the amount of money spent on pieces going down and the prices of metal continuing to go up. Jewellery has made a move to the forefront of fashion which has been helped massively by the celebrity culture.

What’s next?
As the price of metal is constantly on the rise I see silver as very much becoming the new gold. The new Rebecca range (which we now have in the shop) makes the silver statement piece more affordable in the designing of silver plated bronze jewellery. The Branch range which we already have in store has also made a change of this sort, using plated base metal as opposed to sterling silver to make their jewellery more affordable.

In the not too distant future I can see many designers looking for alternatives to keep the prices of their jewellery more accessible and affordable to a greater number of customers.