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!
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 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.
Using traditional techniques such as forging and plannishing each piece of jewellery is individually handmade and finished by one of the team.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
Shaun Leane, four times winner of ‘UK Jewellery Designer of the Year’ is our ‘Designer of the Month’ for November!
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.
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.
Alongside his collections and catwalk jewellery he also produces bespoke pieces for private clients including Sarah jessica Parker and Daphne Guiness.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Spend over £50 on Jeremy Heber jewellery in October and receive an Argent gift voucher.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.