General Gallery Reviews

The Times LUXX Magazine 27 Nov 2010

The Times LUXX Magazine 27 Nov 2010

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About Us

The Times
LUXX Magazine
27 Nov 2010

Luxury shopping boils down to the quest for the best, Here the experts guide you to the ultimate purchases, from fine watches and covetable gadgets to collectible Scotch and luxe streetwear

The new collectibles
Base materials
REPORT Maria Doulton PHOTOGRAPH Helen Mellor

Welcome to the brave new world of "art jewellery" and the quirky kingdom of jewels made out of humble, run-of-the-mill materials, a place where the mundane becomes the extraordinary, where paper, acrylic and aluminium are transformed into treasures. "These jewellers are not working in commercial workshops making things to order," says Clare Philips, jewellery curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. "Instead, they go out on a limb because their work is all about self-expression. We are used to thinking of Damien Hirst's work as art, yet still expect jewellery to be pretty and manicured. These jewellers are working with the same freedom as fine artists."
Rene Lalique, of the Art Nouveau movement, was perhaps the first to elevate a base material to new heights, but Dalf, Picasso and Cocteau also dabbled, and helped encourage later names, such as Catherine Noll, who worked in the late 20th century. Catherine Denueve has talked of how Noll's jewels seduced her with their primitive yet sophisticated, African yet modern shapes (pictured on the previous page). Noll was commissioned by couture houses, such as Dior, Nina Ricci and Chanel, and she collaborated with Tiffany and Baccarat. Today, her pieces sell at Harry Fane's London gallery for £1,000 to £10,000.
At the Adrian Sassoon gallery in London, Adam Faxon's work fetches up to 19,000. His writhing, wet-look acrylic forms look like they've been freshly netted from an extraterrestrial rock pool. Joanna Hardy, formerly head of jewellery at Sotheby's, bought a ring by Ines Schwotzer for a few hundred pounds from Kath Libbert's gallery in Bradford. "It's a lace flower made like bobbin lace, but using steel wire," she says. "I don't care if it is stainless steel, as technically it is superb and looks great."
So how to choose between a cornflower ring by Nora Fok and a Douglas Mason crushed Coca- Cola ring? All the experts and gallery owners agree: "Buy what you love." As Philips says: "You have to have an emotional reaction to the piece." Libbert says her clients are interested in jewels that push the boundaries. "We think of ourselves as an antidote to the high street," she says. Harry Fane, Electrum and Lesley Craze, all in London, as well as Libbert and Adrian Sassoon, are all good places to start an education, with knowledgeable staff to guide you.
And the best thing about these works of art? If you tire of wearing them, you can always hang them on the wall.

Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery, Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford BD18 3LA. Tel/Fax 01274 599790. For directions see About Us
Open Monday - Friday 10am - 5.30pm. Weekends 10am - 6pm.