Or Why Diamonds aren’t always a Girl’s Best Friend
I’ve met Joanna Lumley! Yes, and properly too, in as to shake hands and exchange a few words before she was moved on to someone more interesting. She looked Absolutely Fabulous, of course, despite the unsympathetically lit surroundings (it was at the Buxton Festival). Her outfit was an effortlessly chic, plain black, wafty trouser suit with a necklace that my parent’s generation would have called a ‘right Bobby Dazzler’. Or what the Fashion Industry might solemnly refer to as a ‘statement piece.’ This particular necklace was made of spangly discs of silver, lots of them, and looked terrific. It cleverly transformed a simple outfit into something unforgettable. Naturally, I immediately identified a gap in my wardrobe and voiced the existence of that void to anyone who would listen.
The Toilet Chain
Shortly after, I was given a box from Butler and Wilson – a present ‘from the dogs.’ Inside was a chunky necklace with a gobstopper sized amber glass ‘jewel’ on a chain that was so thick and heavy, it almost made you stoop. I loved it and christened it ‘the toilet chain’.
Its first outing was to a very smart event of cocktails, canapes and dinner in Mayfair where a lot of super discreet Cartier and Tiffany was (subtly) in evidence. Competing in the midst of it all was the humble toilet chain, decorating my all-black ensemble. And guess what won! Yes!! Never have I had so many compliments on anything I’ve worn before and this from people whose taste I respect and who, frankly, ought to have known better!
So what’s the moral of this tale? Well, diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but you can have an awful lot more fun wearing a lump of brown glass dangling from a stainless steel chain.
Messing about with bling is great – but what if you want something special? A piece that makes more of a statement about who you are? Perhaps individually designed, skilfully handcrafted and with a bit more of a ‘soul’ than a toilet chain?
Where to begin?
You could start with two of my favourites. One is Giovanni Raspini, the other is Azza Fahmy. Why? Well,firstly are they brilliant designers. Second, they are absolute masters of their craft. Finally they are both real people whose passion really shines through in their jewellery and gives it that ‘soul’.
What’s more, unlike diamonds, which are mainly for special occasions, you can wear most of their pieces with anything – from that dress that cost you an arm and a leg, to jeans and a simple t-shirt (or do a Joanna Lumley with that all-black ensemble). The standard of craftsmanship means they are robust enough to wear everyday, even for ham fisted people like me.
The pictures below show a selection of Tuscan Artisan Silversmith, Giovanni Raspini’s work. These can range from the understated and simple to spectacular flights of fancy. I love how versatile it is to wear and the attention to the tiniest detail. I have a bracelet of his which has a ‘secret’ tiny engraving of the date it was given to me. He launches new themes each season. The pieces here here include the sea themed Nautilus and Panthera, reflecting animal strength.
Azza Fahmy is Egyptian. She and her team create astonishingly beautiful and mystical jewellery based on craftsmanship and techniques that were used thousands of years ago. She works with a mixture of precious metals and precious and semi precious stones and often incorporates messages in Arabic. The necklace I have makes me feel very special whenever I wear it.
That’s it! It has been a long blog and I do hope you’ve enjoyed it. Please do send me your comments and pictures of your favourites. It’s always good to make new discoveries.