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.

t1024sm-fashionweek_6 uno-de-50-silver-leather-ride-the-wave-bracelet-p616-5873_medium uno-de-50-web-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

R1217 R1213 group-11

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.

tglbe-00141-trollbeads-enchanted-days-kit.w610.h610.fill cb4d71b4-fe3e-4ae0-8580-a54fa4093de1 99989c40-c411-4a2f-b508-efc62d6af678

 

 

 

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.

Kit-Heath-Pebble-new-hammered-Coast-product-image Kit-Heath-image-Shore-set BEVEL

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

1401748 cornerstone-creations-sterling-silver-cradle-pave-3-set-necklace-p1565-2642_thumb 1401744

 

 

 

 

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.

alexmonroess17entomologybutterfly200x300 Alex-Monroe 5108227_assocImage_3

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.

TB Egg Brac

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’

TB easter Brac

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.

dragon eggs 3GOThrones

 

 

 

 

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 – March

Originally training as a smith 50 years ago, our ‘Designer of the Month’ for March, John Garland-Taylor has spent the last 30 years focusing on designing his handcrafted jewellery collection.

john_garland_taylor_hand_crafted_jewellery_0000_GP1-Curled-Heart_croppedjohn_garland_taylor_hand_crafted_jewellery_0004_GP4-Pencil-Twist-croppedGT27-Narrow-Twist-Earrings_SQUARE

 

imagesindex

John works from a rural Warwickshire workshop, which, with the help of his two sons has developed a growing family business spanning two generations.

His trademark ‘GT’ armourers’ mark features on all of his jewellery pieces and was originally developed to distinguish pieces of armour that John had restored or produced for the National Trust and Warwick Castle.GT-Hallmark-no-border-100px-close-crop

 

Using traditional techniques such as forging and plannishing each piece of jewellery is individually handmade and finished by one of the team.

john_garland_taylor_hand_crafted_jewellery_0004_GR17-Karenjohn_garland_taylor_jewellery_bangles__0027_GB43-Elisabethimages 2

 

 

 

 

I love the way the hammered texture, once polished, really catches the light and the cuff bangles are real statement pieces, great for evening wear but equally as effective reflecting the sunlight during the daytime.

 

Hello 2014

Well, here we are… the beginning of our ARGENT 25th Anniversary Year!

Nomination V-picHere in the shop we are gearing up for Valentine’s Day, I love this time of year! It’s nice to have something to look forward to following the lull after the Christmas Festivities. It is a perfect time to be thinking of that special someone. Any day soon we are expecting the Valentines Collection from our best selling range Nomination. With a starting price of £18 per charm, this is the perfect alternative to chocolates! If collectables is your thing, then don’t miss out on the Valentines Collection from Trollbeads. In the CholBo range there’s plenty of love related stacking bracelets to choose from, popular with many of our regulars and celebrities alike, I too adore my stacking bracelets and take great pleasure in choosing my look for the day.

tb-B120 My_Heart_Spins_Pendant_Rose_Gold_Vermeil_Large_1024x1024

Another range on a romantic theme is Oak, a particular favourite of mine is the spinning heart necklace, now also available in rose gold vermeil. For that extra special present or for those of you thinking about proposing at this romantic time of year, don’t forget we also have diamond jewellery in classic styles as well as quirky designer pieces.

We are always here to help you, if you can’t see what you want online, do give us a call or pop into the store where we can help with any special requirements.

Finally, whatever you decide to do – have fun this Valentine’s Day!

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.

Big brands vs. independent designers

Amanda Cox's Lily collection

Independent jewellers are often known for their small designer collections and products you wouldn’t really be able to purchase from bigger jewellers. That’s what makes them special.

Over the last couple of years everything has gone mass market to meet the demands of the consumer and the type of jewellery they want to purchase. As we’ve mentioned previously, the charm craze and rise of Pandora has played a huge part due to a number of reasons. The advertising spend from bigger brands enhances the popularity and gives customers a sense of confidence when purchasing that jewellery product. It is harder than ever for individual designers to compete.

Customers often move with the trends which can put individual designers at risk. Some designers don’t work to the current trends and can often fall behind as customers move towards the bigger brands. It can be seen as safer for independent jewellers to invest in big brands, having more confidence in their success; whereas in the past, individual designers were seen as more successful offering a wider choice to the consumer.

Jeremy Heber

Including collections from smaller designers brings something different to the market but also demonstrates our continual support to jewellers who are trying to compete against the likes of Pandora and Links of London. We have a gorgeous and completely individual collection from Amanda Cox, called ‘Lily’. Her contemporary use of pearls appeals to all ages and her collection pushes the creative boundaries in jewellery design. We also stock ranges from Julie Pratt and Jeremy Heber, who both use gold and silver together in their work, rather than separating the two materials. Many people like to wear a mixture of gold and silver and these collections offer an ideal way to wear them together in a stylish and fashionable way.

Julie Pratt

At Argent, we stock a mix of big brands and small designers, so we are able to keep on trend for some of our customers, but also have the individual choice for other customers. Stocking only big brands would exclude the opportunity for difference and variety for our customers, with the risk of becoming uniform with the mainstream jewellers.

Argent strives to support small designers and we believe in the individuality and timelessness of their designs. We have a great relationship with the designers and they are a pleasure to work with, maintaining a very personal approach to business. We aim to offer our customers variety and the type of jewellery associated with an independent jeweller. Customers can be assured that when they come to us, they will find something different and not something they could purchase in every other jewellery shop.