Wear your heart on your sleeve (or neck, or finger, or ears)

I just designed another custom order, and it occurred to me that one of my favourite things about designing for a specific person is that it often allows people to physically wear their interests. The current design is music-themed (a customer after my own heart!), but I’ve recently created a few science and maths-themed pieces. These are in some ways more interesting for me because I’m an Arts girl, so it’s nothing I would ever design for myself.

The three bespoke STEM pieces I’ve made recently are:

  • A large ammonite necklace for my nature-loving grandma
  • An ammonite and amethyst lariat necklace for a Geology student’s ball
  • A set of mathematical symbol studs for a Maths student

The first piece was a commission for my grandma’s birthday. She’s a botanical artist married to a Wildlife Trust director, so she pretty much loves anything related to natural history and plant life. She also likes a statement necklace, so my grandad and I came up with this:

The smaller version of this ammonite necklace is one of the most popular in my Etsy store, so I wasn’t too surprised when I got a custom order enquiry about it, but I definitely wasn’t expecting such an interesting commission. The enquirer was a lovely Geology undergraduate called Mo who was hunting for a special piece for her graduation ball. She’d seen my ammonite necklace and was hoping for a themed necklace to go with the outfit she’d already bought.

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This was a really fun one, because I bloody love designing for specific outfits and occasions. Mo had chosen an absolute show-stopper – a dark purple, v-neck playsuit with a flowing train:

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With a dress that eye-catching, the necklace had to simultaneously match up to and not detract from the dress. An amethyst was the obvious option, and I chose a faceted stone to suggest natural minerals. Paired with the ammonite, it made an unusual, perfectly-themed choice:

The final STEM design I’ve done this season is a set of tiny, delicate, algebraic earrings and a nose stud for a Maths student. I love these, and was tempted to make some for myself, but I felt it might be a bit strange to wear symbols that have no meaning to me…

So, from my recent designing experience, it seems that students wear their interests more than graduates. I suppose this makes sense, since their whole daily lives are defined by their degree choice. ‘Theming yourself’ has another benefit though – it helps you find like-minded people. And, as a relatively-recent graduate myself, I also know how hard it is to meet adult friends once you leave university (or school, if you don’t take the uni route).

Suddenly, for the first time ever, you’re not surrounded by an immediate pool of your peers that you can fish friends out of. How are you supposed to tell if that likely-looking person in your office is actually interesting on a friend level without quizzing them like a creep? (Seriously, if anyone has the answer, let me know in the comments…)

Sometimes it’s easier to start a conversation if you already know you have an interest in common, and interest-based jewellery (or clothing, or accessories) is shorthand for similarly-inclined potential friends to read and start conversation:

Wear a quaver pendant and someone might pipe up, ‘What an unusual necklace, do you play an instrument?’

Ammonite necklace: ‘Ooh, do you like fossils?’

Mathematic symbol earrings: ‘Did you by any chance study maths?’

Boom, instant small talk and a foot in the door to talk to a potential friend (without feeling so weird). I know that probably sounds a bit forced, but there’s also possibility 2: they notice your pretty necklace, comment on how they like it, and you start a conversation about the meaning behind it and find out if you do or don’t have that topic in common. Or you’re already talking and you find something else you both like. Or you decide you hate them and can therefore avoid them. Whatever the outcome, your choice of accessory has enabled a conversation…

The best thing about Etsy is that there are so many wonderful artists you can find something to express your interests. If you can’t find exactly what you’re after, almost everyone will make a custom order if they can (as I may have mentioned before, they’re some of my own favourite design projects). This is just a tiny selection of the interest-based jewellery Etsy has to offer:

So get out there, let your stylish freak flag fly, and meet some fellow humans!

The Best Jewellery from AW17 Fashion Weeks

The latest Paris Fashion Week finished last week, which means all the major fashion houses have had their say on this year’s Autumn/Winter trends. Apparently duvet dressing is still in this season (thank you, Mulberry, Preen and Margiela), although I’m going to take a hard pass on the socks-with-sandals look…

Amidst all the furore about the clothes, jewellery design can sometimes get forgotten in the main news coverage of Fashion Week, so I’ve compiled my favourite jewellery collections from London, Milan and Paris, and found a few handmade Etsy versions as well.

London, 17-21 February: Mulberry

Old meets new with crystal ear cuffs and vintage-style brooches and cameos alongside tweed, checks and embroidery. Love, love, love this aesthetic, and it’s actually achievable off the catwalk, too: grab a patterned shirt and cardie and you’re good to go. Stand-out piece: that gorgeous be-ringed hand pendant.

Milan, 22-28 February: Dolce and Gabbana

The prints are cute, the jackets are cute, but let’s be real – the reason this was the runaway runway winner of Milan Fashion Week is the abundance of crowns. Sadly this look isn’t as doable in daily life (unless you work at Disneyland or you don’t mind getting some really weird looks at the Post Office), but how good would it be if you could actually wear a crown all day, every day? If, like me, you want a crown to wear around the house, Etsy’s bursting with choice. Most of them are ‘wedding’ crowns, but they’re surprisingly affordable, so I’m tempted to just buy one for myself. Sod the wedding! A couple of my favourites:

Paris, 28 February – 8 March: Dior

There are so many things to love about Dior’s AW17 collection, not least the fact it looks like high-fashion Beauxbatons uniforms. The delicate, layered necklaces in this collection are just gorgeous and, like the Mulberry stuff, easy to incorporate into your wardrobe. When it comes to subtle necklaces to layer up, Tiding of Magpies has you covered:

This one even comes pre-layered:

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I’m working on a new line of multistrand necklaces like the one above, so check back in a couple of weeks for more…

Edit: The first new design has dropped. Check it out here.