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 – 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.

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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.

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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.

 

Designer Of The Month – February

After a busy festive season February sees the return of our ‘Designer of the Month’ feature. Starting with Julie Pratt, a designer with close links to Argent, she worked with us here in the shop for over ten years and now concentrates on designing and making jewellery from her workshop in Barnsley.Julie pic

Julie graduated from Barnsley College in 1998, her love of architecture and the natural environment along with her passion for travel provide constant inspiration for her work.

 

February is the ideal month in which to feature Julie’s work, coinciding with the launch of a new collection for us here at Argent, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Julie’s ‘Hearts’ collection consists of little silver nugget pendants with heart detail, on silver chain or colourful ribbon along with a matching ring, bangle and stud earrings, we think this new collection will be a great addition to her existing range.

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Julie’s core collection is based around the classical themes of the line and the circle, using a combination of polished and matt finished silver, occasionally contrasting with gold, Julie creates simple, elegant designs. I love the fact that many of her rings are made up of multiple pieces, allowing the wearer to create their own look and making them a firm favourite with our customers.

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Julie’s work will be showcased, centre stage in our window throughout the month of February so come along and take a look for yourself!

 

October – Designer of the Month

Jez HeberThe classic combination of silver and gold in Jeremy Heber‘s designs makes his jewellery a very popular choice for gifts and as many people have already started shopping for Christmas I have chosen Jeremy as ‘Designer of the Month’ for October.

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Jeremy Heber has been making jewellery, more or less by accident, since 1988. Over the years he has gone full circle from working alone in a bedsit to employing “a range of luckless staff” and then back to working on his own again. His style is classic but with distinction, he wants his jewellery to be worn everyday but feels that it should still feel special and look stunning.

 

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JHeber1Jeremy was one of the first designers I started working with back in 1989 and I still love his jewellery today.

 

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Spend over £50 on Jeremy Heber jewellery in October and receive an Argent gift voucher.

September – Designer of the Month

We have just received a delivery of Lesley Strickland’s  jewellery, I’m really pleased with the new colours I selected, they have a lovely autumnal feel, perfect for this time of year so have decided to choose Lesley as ‘Designer of the Month’ for September.lStrickland4

Lesley is a British jeweller specialising in the use of cellulose acetate (derived from cotton oil) combined with sterling silver. Lesley’s passion for designing and making jewellery started in 1976 at the City Literary Institute, London. Her inspiration comes from weathered natural formsand sculptors of the 1950’s.

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For more than thirty five years Lesley has continued to evolve and develop her personal style and manufacturing techniques. Each piece is hand formed and very carefully finished, this is important to Lesley as she likes the wearer to have a tactile relationship with her work. The two guiding principals that Lesley applies to all her work are to strive for elegant simplicity and empathy with the wearer.

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August – Designer of the Month

With August 1st being Yorkshire Day I thought it would be appropriate to choose one of our Yorkshire based jewellers as ‘Designer of the Month’. Amanda Cox is based in Hebden Bridge, we have stocked her work in Argent for over six years and it is always very popular with our customers. Her timeless ‘Lily Collection’ is a favourite, featuring delicately beautiful flower shapes and fresh water pearls, drawing inspiration from nature, the designs are modern yet classical with a hint of vintage style that reflects current trends.

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Amanda Cox’s Lily collection

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Having previously lectured in Jewellery and Metalwork at Plymouth College of Art and Design, Amanda has returned to her original passion – designing and creating contemporary jewellery at her studio in Yorkshire.

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Amanda’s work has developed from and been inspired by a combination of the exploration of metal’s tactile properties and the visual qualities of simple organic forms.

July – Designer of the Month

The month of July sees the start of Argent’s 25th Anniversary celebrations. To mark this occasion we will be showcasing a different designer each month for the duration of the celebratory year.

Alex Monroe will be our ‘Designer of the Month’ for July, his work will be displayed centre stage in the shop window throughout the month and every customer spending £50 or more on jewellery from the ‘Designer of the Month’ will receive an Argent gift voucher.images (3)

I decided to choose Alex as our first featured designer because, aside from him being one of my personal favourites, he is fast becoming one of Britain’s most talked about designers and I am proud to represent his work in Argent. With the Grand Depart taking place in Leeds on 5th July how fitting that one of Alex’s designs features a wonderful interpretation  of a bicycle, complete with moving wheels, a diamond headlight and a ruby rear light!Bianchi About Alex Monroe

 

It wasn’t all that long ago that Alex Monroe was celebrating his own 25th Anniversary, he designed the beautiful ‘Hooray’ necklace to commemorate this achievement. Fans of Alex’s work may also be interested to know of his recently published book ‘Two Turtle Doves – A Memoir of Making Things’ which is available to buy in store (one signed copy left!).book_featured_blogam2012d-gp4

 

 

 

Having trained at the Sir John Cass School of Art in London, Alex started making his own jewellery in 1986, out of a small workshop in South London. To this day all of his jewellery is still hand made by a team of highly skilled jewellers in that same picturesque studio.DSDHAAlex_Monroe_StudioSnowsfields11cDennis_Gil_0Alex Monroe Shopfront137Snowfields-041012-017-500x750

 

Growing up in the Suffolk countryside surrounded by plants and animals, Alex has a great love for nature and it has become a strong theme throughout his work. He has the wonderful ability to translate the attributes of delicate natural objects into precious mepcn10-gp1tals.mgn10-gp1ss11alex130100799-assorted

 

 

 

Alex makes all of his original designs by hand, using traditional jewellery making techniques he works directly into silver as opposed to wax, a method which allows him to achieve the high levels of detail and texture that are such a feature of his jewellery. The intricate detail in the ‘Bumblebee Necklace’, one of his most popular pieces, is amazing and having coveted the ‘Baby Bee’ necklace I finally gave in and am now sporting the gold vermeil version. I wear it daily and it is constantly admired.am_earcrysanthemum2osn1-gp1BrC6rX3IUAA0gNJ

 

 

 

 

I am looking forward to the launch of Alex’s new Autumn/Winter collection, with everyone returning to the ‘make do and mend’ mentality and the success of the recent TV programme ‘The Sewing Bee’ it seems appropriate that it should be called ‘The Haberdashery’. The collection consists of charming representations of key sewing box accessories that only Alex could interpret in such meticulous detail.hab am

 

 

Happy Easter!

I can’t believe it’s Easter already, a great excuse for me to go shopping for Easter eggs in the gorgeous chocolate shop across from us in Thorntons Arcade though. I always notice their fabulous window displays and could easily be tempted to buy their chocolate treats all year round……. however if you’re looking for an alternative to chocolate, Alex Monroe’s ‘Fat Hen’ necklace in rose vermeil is one of my favorites and this year’s Easter collection from Trollbeads is a winner!

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The Bunny is already a firm favourite with us all here at Argent. The Precious Easter Eggs are available in three stunning colours, they are beautiful and a little bit more affordable than the famous precious eggs designed by Carl Fabergé! I read an article recently about an intricate golden egg, 2927824encrusted with diamonds and sapphires, which was bought for £8000 from a bric-a-brac stall in the US. The buyer had intended to melt it down for scrap until he discovered what he actually had was a long lost Fabergé egg worth £20 million! Carl Fabergé designed a total of 50 precious eggs, the first one was produced for Tsar Alexander III in 1885, the Tsar gave his wife an egg every year during the Russian Orthodox Easter festival.

 

The tradition of giving eggs has been associated with Easter for centuries, representing new life and fertility they were originally linked to Pagan spring festivals and later adopted by Christians to symbolise the resurrection.

Happy Easter! I hope you enjoy your Easter gifts whether they’re precious or made of chocolate!

Spring Inspiration!

Spring is definitely in the air! Like me, you may be thinking about putting together a fresh new look for this season. One of my favourite spring collections is Cherry Blossom by award winning British designer Shaun Leane, it features intricate soft pink, lilac and cream enamelled flowers scattered along entwined branches of silver and gold vermeil and complimented by semi-precious stones, diamonds and pearls.10001376_761615913848853_1726984071_n

The collection is inspired by a Japanese fable in which a beautiful Goddess named ‘Princess Konohara-Sakuya’ sprinkles seeds from the clouds of Fuji Mountain which then flourish into white and crimson flowers. This magical bud is named after the goddess Sakuya,  now recognised as Sakura, or in translation, cherry blossom.

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To this day in Japan, the beauty of cherry blossom is celebrated in the traditional festival of Hanimi. The date of the celebrations varies from year to year and is predicted by the Weather Bureau in their blossom forecast. This year, a little bit earlier than usual, from the 13th March onwards parties will be held wherever cherry blossom can be found.

It is said that ‘a cherry tree blooms at the time of good news’. To celebrate this Trollbeads selected the Sakura design as one of their recent ‘People’s Beads’ (designed by Trollbeads fans from around the world). A beautiful silver Cherry Blossom bead is also featured in the main Trollbeads collection and I’m looking forward to receiving the new Cherry Blossom fantasy gift set, to be launched on April 11th  2014 –  I’ve seen pictures and it looks amazing! Until then why not add some colour to your Trollbeads bracelet, take a look at the Spring 2014 collection, inspired by the Hanging Gardens, gold shimmers through the colour in this gorgeous  glass Sparkle Kit.Untitled-3.102936troll11449 (2)1384010_681622725181506_401105017_n63050-Sparkle_Kit

 

 

 

I’m excited about selecting my new Trollbead bracelet combination and coordinating my new spring colours. The light mornings have definitely inspired me to put away those winter woollies, sort through my wardrobe and make the change from winter to spring.