This week in our ‘Behind the Designs’ series, we meet new jewellery designer Flora Bhattachary, fresh from her win at jewellery boutique EC One’s ‘Unsigned’ Awards where we were on the panel of judges.
Recently graduating from an MA course at Central St Martins, Flora’s debut collection is entitled ‘Lubhati’, the Hindi and Sanskrit word for ‘Desire’, and reflects the evocative tales Flora uncovered whilst researching her ancestry. Tracing family members back to 18th century South Asia, Flora explored historical artefacts, personal stories and objects, and brought these together to develop the designs.
Overlapping elements of different cultures reveal themselves gently through different parts of the individual pieces, fusing Islamic, south Asian and Flora’s own London roots to create an aesthetic as exciting as the melting pot of London itself.
Highly sculptural, showing influence from 1920s Cartier and the jewellery designer Suzanne Belperron, her pieces are hand carved in wax by Flora and then developed further using CAD or other methods, and the stones all hand carved to immense precision in the UK.
Complex, undulating designs reference geometry and are undeniably precise, but radiate with opulence and richness, the colour palette as deep and seductive as the stories Flora has uncovered. Evidence of this is seen in her beautiful sketchbooks, which showcase her drawing and sketching skills and obsession with geometry and pattern, as well as a depth of research and detail that only an MA can reveal.
Ideas of migration and the resulting emotional journeys are explored; materials that have ‘travelled’ to and from South Asia are often used as the focal point of a design.
This rich and diverse debut collection manages to balance wearability with a strong story and a beautifully crafted aesthetic that feels authentic and steeped in history, yet also contemporary and fresh. A perfect balance. Available from The New Craftsman now and from EC One in the new year.
Jewellery Designer Flora Bhattachary
After being inundated with requests for help on buying beautiful jewellery presents, here’s our quick jewellery christmas gift guide featuring a few of our favourite pieces under £350.
From chunky, slick signet rings, statement party earrings or chic minimalism, these are all available to buy online or in-store from some of London’s best independent jewellery designers this Christmas…
Unisex Signet ring and necklace by Effra
Bold, graphic colour: Enamel Crescent Gold earrings, £120 by Katie Jamieson, available at EC One
Organic inspiration and 18ct Fairtrade gold rings from the ‘Revealed’ Collection
Continuing our ‘Behind the Designs’ series, where we interview prominent jewellery designers about their design processes and inspirations, we visited Hattie Rickards in her London home to rifle through her sketchbooks and photograph some of the beautiful pieces from her collections.
The kinetic ‘Rubix’ ring in 18ct gold from the ‘Geo’ collection, and a selection of Enamel rings.
Hattie Rickards set up her jewellery brand in 2010 after gaining experience working for high-profile jewellers such as Solange Azagury Partridge and Kara Ross. Her aesthetic is clear and well defined – bold, graphic silhouettes are paired with a punchy colour palette and a love of kinetics – elements twist and spin using hidden mechanisms and extremely impressive craftsmanship, resulting in playful yet sophisticated pieces.
A ring from the ‘Revealed’ Collection in 18ct gold, amethyst and hematite.
Hattie is single-minded when it comes to research and inspiration – she purposely avoids following the work of her contemporaries and trends or fashion do not interest her – she prefers to remain instinctive about her style and direction. A large proportion of the business is comprised of bespoke commissions, where a close relationship is established with the client in order to discern what they are after. A comprehensive, revealing process; one which Hattie is passionate about and extremely motivated by.
Pages from Hattie’s sketchbook
Pages from Hattie’s sketchbook
Pages from Hattie’s sketchbook
It is obvious from speaking to Hattie that this intimacy she develops with her clients is a huge driving factor for her when it comes to designing bespoke engagement rings or commissions, the challenge of pulling and extracting ideas from someone who doesn’t always know what they actually want is a process she finds very exciting. She is clearly a very intuitive designer, and the pleasure derived from seeing the client’s reaction after she presents the finished piece is something she thrives on.
Reworking and redesigning existing antique pieces
As part of the bespoke design side of her business Hattie also reworks existing, often vintage pieces of jewellery. This is a fantastic way of recycling materials, using existing stones and metal from a piece that might otherwise have been unworn or hidden away, kept only for sentimental reasons. Breathing new life into old jewellery is one of Hattie’s skills and also aligns to her ethical values and sensibilities when it comes to gemstones and gold, a murky industry with little transparency.
Hattie’s aesthetic has evolved since the launch of her business, and from more organic, naturalistic beginnings it is now bolder with colour, and more graphic, but nature still plays a large part. These succulent plants were used instead of flowers at her wedding earlier this year, but represent her love of symmetry in nature, with repetition and clean lines a dominant feature in her designs.
With the rising demand for bespoke engagement rings, Hattie now devotes a lot of her time to this facet of jewellery design – surprise proposals are the most exciting commissions to work on, and getting to know a wife through their husband is something she relishes. Developing personal relationships through working on family commissions and engagement rings clearly gives her the most pleasure as a jewellery designer, and the painstaking process of working with her team of craftsmen, suppliers and makers is hugely important.
A bespoke diamond, emerald and sapphire engagement ring with original computer designs and hand sketches
This intimacy which is clearly so inspiring to Hattie is probably most visible in her range of fingerprint pieces (example shown below). Fingerprints of children or loved ones are taken and incorporated into a design; a pendant, cufflinks, a ring, resulting in a permanent and beautifully sentimental piece of jewellery that somehow manages not to appear too laden with schmaltz.
The Hattie Rickards brand also encompasses this feeling – jewellery designed with obvious care and meaning, resonating down to the core ethics of the company (a fact which is not rammed down your throat at every opportunity but underpins the company in its own quiet way) – yet this sentimentality is never overbearing. The clean, graphic style and bold use of colour is a refreshing change to the typical ‘ethical’ offering in the jewellery world, and this is what makes the company unique.
A fine jewellery brand with a refined, luxury aesthetic, yet an ethical backbone. Bravo, Hattie…