Brother and sister duo Anna and Mark Jewsbury of the label Completed Works are joining a new avant-garde set of young jewellery designers breaking the traditional mould of the fine jewellery fold.
The siblings are building upon the architectural ruins of the ancient world, calving out their own fluted marble niche in this expanding contemporary bijou category. Influenced by the theory of reductionism, the pair founded the brand in 2013, fusing purist design elements with high-quality, natural 'construction' materials such as marble and jadeite.
'We were actually inspired by groups like the Nouveau Roman or the Symbolists to set up a brand that would work like an artistic movement,' explains Anna Jewsbury, who studied mathematics and philosophy at Oxford. 'We wanted to emulate that continuity, but also that freedom. I don't think I ever really set out to work with jewellery. The interest was first with certain themes and ideas we wanted to explore and the jewellery became a way to visualise and represent them on a small and intimate scale.'
Her brother Mark, formally a journalist with a background in history, offered the genesis for the pair's research-based, theoretical approach. Their debut collection Pillar, designed in the midst of the Euro crisis, initiated this cultural commentary; its hand-crafted, ancient columns forming a motif for how civilisations slowly decay.
We continue the conversation with Anna at her South London studio...
W*: What was the starting point for Pillar?
Anna Jewsbury: The initial inspiration was a trip Mark took to Southern Lebanon and later to the Beqaa Valley. There's a stark contrast between the way people interact with the ancient ruins there and the way they do in Europe. For instance, in a town called Sour, the ancient Hippodrome is still used by people to take their evening jogs. We started thinking about the idea of change and civilisational shifts, which became the basis for the collection.
Tell us about your use of marble as a key 'building' material?
It is interesting to see how certain marbles reflect conceptual shifts within a society. For instance, one of the marbles we use in the collection, Porfido Verde Antico, was used by the Romans to embody the power of their emperor, before being completely forgotten. It was then rediscovered by French explorers in time for it to be used to represent the glory of the church; most notably in St Peter's Square. Today, in a time of consumerism, we are using it in products.
Beyond that, the marble is also a way for the collection to use colour in a way that doesn't envelop the ideas. It allows for shades of colour and tones not possible with just gemstones.
Your inspiration may be ancient, but you utilise the latest technology for your moulds…
As this was our first collection, the accessibility of 3D printing made it a useful tool for us, taking the ideas and designs to wax stage in a much quicker timeframe and greatly reducing the workflow during development.
You have also revisited age-old techniques, however, by carving the marble pieces yourselves?
Yes, each cutting is brought back to our studio, where it is then painstakingly fluted and polished by hand.