Don’t forget Mother’s Day on 26th March! Here at Argent we’ve put together a little gallery of lovely gift ideas to inspire you, you might even decide to treat yourself!
Don’t forget Mother’s Day on 26th March! Here at Argent we’ve put together a little gallery of lovely gift ideas to inspire you, you might even decide to treat yourself!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As you may have noticed it has been over a year since my last blog post, and what a year! It’s been a bit of a turning point in my life and the life of Argent. Health issues have prompted a rethink, and after a difficult year I have found my direction again, in other words…. I’ve got my ‘mojo’ back! I’m focusing on trying to simplify my life both at home and at work. I’m in the process of restyling my home with a brand new kitchen/diner, it seems like this way of thinking has influenced my jewellery choices for this season too. The new collections we have coming in are Scandinavian and very much reflect the simplicity of Nordic style, from the very beginning my own favourite style of jewellery has been one which conveys simple lines and timeless elegance, it seems like I’ve come full circle.
Whilst visiting the Jewellery Spring Fair at Birmingham NEC in February I discovered the Drakenberg Sjolin brand which was established in Sweden in 2009, it was the first time they had exhibited in the UK. Their brand identity is “pure and mindful jewellery inspired by the nordic light and darkness, seasons of spring and autumn and the constant movement in nature” which really resonates with my thinking at the moment. The silver pieces have an elegant simplicity that reflects the strength yet fragility of nature.
Just arrived in store is another Scandinavian brand, byBiehl from Denmark, created by Charlotte Biehl and inspired by her wish for high quality, simple, stylish and personal jewellery. I was drawn to this range for it’s comfort and simplicity, it is very wearable and easy to personalise. The main collection consists of uniquely designed ‘pods’ for bracelets and necklaces which can be put together to create a simple yet sophisticated look. Each piece is stamped with their signature forget-me-not flower and hand made in Denmark.
I’m loving the Trollbeads ‘Uplifting’ spring collection too, the calm and gentle colours are perfect for the season. I love the way Trollbeads have inlaid subtle but contrasting cubic zirconia into the glass beads, my favourite is ’healing heart’, lavender stones suspended in pale green glass, I also love the the ‘meditation’ bead, the faceted outer compliments the green glass and gold sparkle to give it an energising effect, the whole collection has a feel of balance and contemplation. Talking of which I’m getting back into the swing of my body balance classes, I think we are all constantly striving for balance in our lives and Spring is the perfect time to address this.
As well as the brand new ranges coming from Scandinavia I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the latest collection from Chlobo, ‘Luna Soul’, as the name suggests, the inspiration for this range is the moon and stars. The bracelets are beautifully sparkly, reflecting the night sky with a combination of silver and pink aventurine and rose gold with labradorite, I can’t wait to add some of this celestial collection to my bracelet stack.
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.
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.
The Dragon Egg bead, ‘The egg cracks and out comes new life, luck and magic. A baby dragon is born’
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.
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.The 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!
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!
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, encrusted 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, here we are… the beginning of our ARGENT 25th Anniversary Year!
Here 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Unless you have been living in a cave for the last 12 months, most of you will be aware of the two major events set to hit the UK during the following summer months; The Olympic Games and our Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. With the Diamond Jubilee less than a fortnight away and fast approaching, we at Argent are eagerly anticipating the chance to indulge in all things British as the beloved Union Jack makes a big comeback.
Here is just a small selection of the ranges we have in store that could assist you in flying the flag during this festive summer period.
Last Spring in time for the Royal wedding Trollbeads released their whimsical and charming collection of Trollbeads UK World Tour beads featuring 4 Beads. The ‘English Tea Party’ bead, reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland and a archetypal English summer is one of three silver beads which also includes ‘Love Spoons’ and ‘Celtic kilt’, indicative of Welsh and Scottish heritage; and finally the glass UK Colours bead representing our unification.
This year they have done it again and perfectly timed the release of a new selection of special edition starter bracelets with the Diamond Jubilee. Each bracelet comes in its own presentation box and comprises of a silver bracelet ranging from 18cm – 23 cms in, a classic flower lock and the choice of either a red, blue, or white ‘diamond bead’’. A perfect way for Trollbead fans old and new to commemorate the occasion in a special way.
Sphere of Life
A classic and long running Argent favourite, this sterling silver, gold plate and enamel ‘National Treasure’ flag pendant and chain, perfect for anyone looking for a jubilee gift with an impact, with its deluxe packaging that plays on the spherical theme of eternal continuity.
If you’re looking to add a touch of glitz and glamour to your Jubilee celebrations, then look no further than Argent’s best selling range, Candy Bling.
The signature collection of Shamballa earrings and bracelets combines tradition with current trend through their luxurious crystal encrusted Union Jack beaded bracelets and with prices starting at under £20 there is something available for any budget.
And last but by no means least, something for the gentleman.
Back in March we briefly touched on the arrival of the new Flash Jordan ‘Jack the Lad’ cufflinks which gave a contemporary twist on the linear Union flag design. But if it’s a classic aesthetic that you are after for such an affair as this, then nothing could be more elegant or befitting than Simon Carter’s range of ‘West End’ cufflinks.
The collection features a variety of quintessential British designs of both past and present that reference periods of ultimate style such as mod culture and the swinging sixties and these Union Jack button cufflinks are offered in a choice of either cloth or enamel; which only leaves the question of which pair to choose?!
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.
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.
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.
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.