Follow Us on Twitter

Goldsmiths' Fair 2010

Melanie Ankers. Mandala ring trio. Three silver rings with gold-plated and oxidised radiating circles patterns. £180 each ring.

Event preview

GOLDSMITHS’ Fair, the annual selling exhibition of innovative jewellery and silverware by contemporary designer-makers, will take place at Goldsmiths’ Hall from September 27 to October 10, 2010.

Goldsmiths’ Fair is the ultimate one-stop destination for those seeking out jewellery and silver by the most exciting independent designer-makers in the UK. Over the past 28 years, the Fair has grown in stature and allure and is now considered to be one of the most important, prestigious events of its kind in Europe.

This annual selling event, which is open to the public, positively buzzes with talent, passion, creativity, innovative design and superlative craftsmanship. Forget mass production, Goldsmiths’ Fair is all about the bespoke, the original and the one-offs. Each piece is hand-made by dedicated artists in small workshops around the country and collectively the Fair represents months of intense skill and artistry.

For two weeks only, these inspirational makers come to Goldsmiths’ Hall to present their latest collections. It’s an opportunity for them to talk to the public about their work, explain their techniques and inspiration. The two-way interaction adds a vital personal element to the whole process of buying, as well as making it more enlightening and educational.

The ancient, traditional skills of the jeweller and silversmiths are much in evidence, in some cases excitingly fused with cutting-edge technologies. Jewellers Tina Engell and Roslyn Millar, for example, use the cuttlebone from cuttlefish to cast their jewellery, a technique widely used by Renaissance jewellers which results in an attractive grainy texture which looks both antique and yet very modern.

At the other end of the spectrum, advanced laser welding is enabling jewellers and silversmiths to scale new heights previously thought unreachable. Tom Rucker‘s breathtaking jewellery, for example, is made by painstakingly laser welding fine platinum wire together to produce an intricate molecular lace like effect.

Equally, silversmith Kevin Grey, exhibiting at the Fair for the first time, uses laser and TIG welding techniques to join individual hand-raised formed pieces of silver to produce his beautiful seemingly seamless vessels, remarkable for their simplicity of form, line and volume.

Fashion no longer dictates that metals should never be mixed, hence jewellers positively relish the freedom and experimentation that this allows. White gold, yellow gold, green gold, rose gold, silver and platinum are regularly combined to great effect – be it by weaving or drawing gold wire as seen in the jewellery of Andrew Lamb and Catherine Martin, or coiling techniques as practised by Daniela Dobesova.

Another jeweller, Angie Boothroyd, has recently explored the blending of different colours of gold using up to 17 different alloys in her latest collection to produce a striking continuous spectrum ranging from white, to green, to yellow, to rose, and back to white.

Rose gold, so called due to its pinky hue has recently seen a huge rise in popularity. Its soft warm tones perfectly complement earthy coloured diamonds such as cognac, cinnamon and champagne which are also much in vogue.

Top jeweller David Marshall has used rose and red gold extensively in recent designs, many of which he will be bringing to the Fair. He loves the colour which he feels has a delicacy about it which is further accentuated when set with tiny diamonds.

Jeweller Jane Sarginson, in particular, uses rose gold together with chocolate and honey pearls as the colours harmonise beautifully and give her classic, timeless pieces a contemporary edge.

For those who prefer the rich, luxurious intensity of yellow gold, jeweller Polly Gasston works exclusively in 22 carat, which she combines with semi-precious stones. Polly never polishes her work, but lets the gold develop in lustre and shine resulting in a hand made, almost antique appearance.

In total contrast, oxidised or blackened silver jewellery with its dark, edgy feel is still hugely popular with both jewellers and buyers. Daphne Krinos‘ latest range of large distinctive flower rings are made in oxidised silver each set with a different semi-precious coloured stone.

Numerous themes and trends are in evidence at the Fair, such as narrative and nostalgia, particularly notable in the whimsical jewels of Zoe Arnold and Ruth Tomlinson and the exciting use of mixed media – precious metals with wood, silicone, stone, and an array of found or recycled objects. Exponents of mixed media include Kirsty Eaglesfield, Grace Girvan, An Alleweireldt, and Hidemi Asano.

Versatility is another important factor of contemporary jewellery – stacking rings remain ever popular with the ability to rearrange the order, and interchangeable elements, for example, feature in Catherine Hills‘ collection of extremely attractive jewellery.

On the whole the look is totally individual – bold outlines with an emphasis on detail and texture often incorporating a single stone as a highlighting feature. There is also a strong element of “fashionablity” about the Fair – it’s possible to get a complete, workable bejewelled look from several different jewellers, or find pieces to accessorise with a particular outfit.

In addition, a strong ethical ethos runs throughout the Fair exhibitors. For example, jeweller Shivani Patel, a recipient of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s graduate award scheme, makes many of her gold pieces by recycling unwanted pieces of Indian jewellery. She enjoys transforming a piece of poorly manufactured, traditional jewellery into something contemporary, individual and lasting.

In addition to Shivani, nine other recent graduates have also been given free stands by the Goldsmiths’ Company to help launch their careers. This adds a further element of excitement – the potential of making an exciting discovery and buying a piece from someone who has yet to make their name.

This year’s rising stars include jewellers Jonathan Boyd, Jessica Poole, Milena Kovanovic and Ros Millar and silversmiths Phil Jordan, Samantha Moore, Victoria Coleman, Susan Dunford and Karen Simpson.

Young silversmith Louise Chesshire sums up the feeling shared by all of her colleagues at the Fair: “I am passionate about my craft. It is important to me that I make everything by hand so that each piece is truly individual and has its own unique, sculptural shape as well being completely functional. I hope everything I make will be used, loved, and passed on as heirlooms of the future.”

Louise’s silver organic leaf shaped spoons (£120) and her stylish silver coffee scoops (£150) make attractive presents and with Christmas only three months away the Fair provides the perfect opportunity to buy seriously original gifts at affordable prices which are designed to delight.

Goldsmiths’ Fair is retail therapy, philanthropy, entertainment and enjoyment all rolled into one – it’s an event not to be missed!

Goldsmiths’ Fair 2010 Gallery

Admission: By catalogue, purchasable on the door (£7 for one week, £12 for two weeks).

Times: Monday to Friday 11am to 7pm (last admissions 6.30pm); Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm (last admissions 5.30pm).

NB: Closed Monday, October 4 for change-over.

Goldsmiths’ Hall, Foster Lane, London, EC2V 6BN

Tel: 020 7606 7010