Founded in London in the mid-1970s by six members of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, the members of the Designer Jewellers Group (DJG) met at a conference to respond to an approach from the organisers of the London Fashion Collections – to display the work of contemporary jewellery makers alongside the 1976 Fashion Show at the Inn on the Park, Park Lane.
The key requirement for a jeweller wishing to join the DJG is a distinctive style. The original remit of the group was to distinguish art jewellery from fashion. The DJG now exhibits twice a year at the Barbican Centre and the latest collection, on show as part of the Centre's summer exhibitions, unveils work dedicated to highly considered material mixes. The results are unorthodox and innovative, utilising hardwoods, Perspex, polypropylene and textiles, among other unexpected materials. Here is our pick of the best in show …
'Designer Jewellers Group' is on view until 30 June. For more information, visit the Barbican's website
Pictured: two-strand Hexagon choker, in black and white, by Shelby Fitzpatrick
Writer: Hannah Silver
Shelby Fitzpatrick: Shelby Fitzpatrick's laser-cut Perspex pieces are brilliantly vivid. 'Designing jewellery using Perspex offers a chance to utilise varied surface effects – smooth or frosted, say – creating interlocking planes and textures,' says the designer of her preferred material. Varying sizes and combinations of geometric forms generate an infinite fusion of colour and shape
Li-Chu Wu: The possibilities of paper inform Li-Chu Wu's pieces, which use multiple layers to create subtle movements in form. When interlaced with silver and created using metalsmithing techniques, the results are rich and tactile, including rings, necklaces and bangles. It is the quotidian nature of her material that Wu finds particularly engaging: 'The most humble, ordinary material can show its own charm through a designer's creation,' she says. 'When we focus on the purity of it, it can be extraordinary'
Emma Farquharson: 'I want to create a subtle symmetry out of the frisson between the poetic design of the natural world and the chaos of urban living,' explains Emma Farquaharson, who developed the natural geometric shapes she saw in nature to create simple patterns in silver and gold. Farquaharson fuses traditional techniques with modern methods, frequently working with metal and carved wax forms to create distinct outlines
Ute Sanne: Ute Sanne's 'Karfunkel' bangle (pictured) is the jeweller’s twisted take on Rumpelstiltskin, the Grimm fairytale in which a miller lies that his daughter can spin straw into gold. Long, delicate layers of straw form an architectural arch, held together by a sliver of gold, while an oval ruby nestles inside. Sanne delights in the theatricality of it: 'Jewellery should always harbour a little secret and not reveal all at first glance,' she says
Black Lune: Belgian designer Jelka Quintelier is the founder of Black Lune, designing laser and hand-cut rubber jewellery and accessories, and sometimes interior installations. Distorting the idea of traditional ornamentation, Quintelier is inspired by architectural motifs. As such, she replicates the tough, durable nature of the material into bold statement jewels
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