‘There was a recurring theme of space across a lot of Astley Clarke's previous collections,’ explains Dominic Jones of the inspiration behind ‘Astronomy’, one of a triptych of micro-collections designed by him as the jewellery brand's new creative director. Jones’ arrival at Astley Clarke also marks the first time a jewellery brand has been invited to show as part of the official London Fashion Week schedule. As such, the A/W 2017 shows signalled the designer’s return to London, three years after he presented his tenth and final eponymous collection here.
Jones’ references blend past and present representations of the solar system. ‘I looked at all sort of things like illustrations from the Hermetic and Rosicrucian texts from the Ritman Library in Amsterdam,’ he says. ‘Images all the way to the most recent and mind blowing images taken from the final missions of the NASA spacecraft Cassini. I think the pieces sit quite strongly between these two references.’
‘Ruby Mars’ ear jackets in yellow gold with ruby and emerald. Photography: Aylin Bayhan
His designs act as microcosmic representations of the planets, like the ‘Agate Saturn’ ring, with circling orbits of diamonds, ‘Ruby Mars’ ear jackets and murky ‘Moss Agate Venus’ ring. Using a single set emerald, Jones’ ‘Mars’ pieces feature a cheeky Martian glinting from its home planet. ‘The most difficult technique was the lapidary of all the custom cut stones used for the planets,’ he explains. ‘It’s a hard process to get ones that are cut in thin slices. They're less like stones in settings and more like natural paintings in gold frames.’
Inspired by René Lalique and Suzanne Belperron, Jones also used enamelling in his ‘Earth’ pieces. The planet’s land is represented using green enamel, and its oceans using sapphires. A pearl also represents the orbit of the moon. ‘Traditional enamelling has been lost from manufacturing because it has been replaced by “cold enamel” which is essentially baked plastic resin. It is much cheaper and easier to use.’ Jones says. ‘It was important for me for both preservation and aesthetic's sake to source an traditional enamelist that we could reintroduce it to our production chain.’ Time for blast off.