Six young jewellery careers poised for lift off


ILJ KickStart winners announced

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The lives and careers of six talented young jewellery designers are poised for lift off after they were selected as beneficiaries of the 2018 IJL KickStart initiative.

Chosen for their 'strongly individual stories' the six will get premium exhibition spots at International Jewellery London 2018 in addition to a raft of marketing and business tips from ILJ and their sponsors The National Association of Jewellers to fast track their young careers.

The benefits of winning this accolade will ensure they get a head start in what has become a challenging and tricky commercial environment. These benfits include a mentoring package, workshop programme, branding and marketing support as well as a bursary funded directly by the Benevolent Society to assist with London transport and accommodation costs.

In addition they are assured meetings with some high level influencers in the industry and the opportunity to win a free stand at IJL 2019 in the special Industry’s Choice award.

“It will be a pleasure to work with these selected jewellers over the next six months,” said NAJ industry ambassador, Lindsey Straughton. 

“The judging was challenging narrowing down from a large number of  entries to just six, but each chosen designer’s work has a strong individual story,” says LIndsey Straughton, NAJ Industry Ambassador.

“Congratulations to all of our six KickStart designers," added IJL show manager, Sarah Kitley-Spencer. 

"As ever, they show exceptional creative flair and their styles are very diverse, making for an interesting collective at IJL 2018. We  look forward to getting to know them all better at their pre-show workshop in June and are confident they will all benefit from this unique commercial launch pad. This is just the first, very exciting step on their IJL journey.”

The 2018 KickStart line-up comprises:

Karina Fagras, Blush & Bashful

The idea for Blush & Bashful’s interchangeable signet jewellery collection began over a decade ago when Karina fell in love with a friend’s signet ring. This demi-fine range features interchangeable signets set within distinctive sterling silver settings. Karina draws inspiration for her work from nature, symbolism, and the traditional English countryside. Her designs combine clean modern lines with the intricate detailing of period jewellery, resulting in eye-catching pieces suitable for everyday wear.

“Being selected for KickStart has given me a huge confidence boost to have industry acknowledgment after starting the brand only a year ago. Receiving the phone call from IJL was a moment I will cherish for a long time to come. I can't wait to show my designs at the show in September. I intend to make the most of the invaluable mentoring and networking opportunities that KickStart will provide.“

Aishleen Lester, Le Ster Jewellery

Aishleen Lester arrived in the world of jewellery by a slightly unconventional route. Having finished her Masters at the Royal Academy she worked as an artist making large sculptural installations, working with the Riflemaker Gallery in Soho. Her work was exhibited internationally, shown in galleries in London and New York and saw her collaborate with choreographers and dancers creating interactive stage sets. She worked on larger commissions, including an installation for the Selfridge’s Wonder Windows. Holding her love of an artistic narrative close,  she then  tested her creative limits by working on smaller scale pieces that could exist within the everyday lives of her enthusiasts. Following her enrolment onto a soldering course, she moved from strength to strength.  Aishleen launched Le Ster Jewellery in 2017,  a brand which offers unique, modern designs drawn from the narratives of art. The first collection, Light through the Grey, combines the graphics of Pop Art, Lichenstein and Warhol, with the dynamic explosions of fireworks, and is a celebration of energy and confidence and a reminder to light up the skies.

“I am really excited to be part of Kickstart. The training day will be so useful providing bespoke advice from leading industry experts. I can't wait to meet the other jewellers and feel part of a team in the lead up to the show, sharing knowledge and experiences and the show itself is a fantastic opportunity to showcase my first collection to potential stockists, stylists and jewellery press. So looking forward to it, thank you IJL!” 

Ruth Chipperfield, Ruth Mary Jewellery

Ruth Mary’s silver lace jewellery collection lends a contemporary twist to traditional lacemaking. Taking inspiration from couture embroidery and royal court dress, Ruth Mary hand stitches each design with a needle and silk thread to form highly unique lace prototypes. The delicate silver jewellery born from these motifs is a stylish reminder of the timelessness of lace, with the additional option of gold plating available.

“I'm absolutely thrilled that my lace jewellery collection was selected for Kickstart! I am looking forward to forming new relationships with stockists and journalists as a result of this and taking my brand to a new level.”

Helen Mangral, Helen Rankin Jewellery

With the ultimate focus always on movement and wearability, Helen's jewellery exudes modernity and simplicity. Her signature aesthetic is defined by angles, interlocking, overlapping, contrast and scale. Based in her Hove workshop, Helen utilises rapid prototyping technology to achieve perfect symmetry and combines it with traditional jewellery techniques. Meticulous hand finishing maintains a luxury feel to the collections.

“I am delighted to have been chosen for IJL’s Kickstart 2018. It’s fantastic to get some recognition and I’m so thrilled that I get to showcase my designs to a wider audience and meet new people. I’m really looking forward to September and all the creative and business opportunities this could lead to.”

Natalie Ball, Natalie Perry Jewellery

Natalie Perry specifically creates ethical and sustainable fine jewellery. Each piece of jewellery is inspired by the stories the designer has collected on her travels, and is worked in Fairtrade Gold and/or recycled silver . Through themes of unconventional beauty, imperfection and disintegration, the collections convey a delicate and fragmented aesthetic.

Natalie developed her signature style and craft at Middlesex University after completing a Batchelor’s degree in Jewellery & Accessories in 2014. During this time she worked as a designer for diamond and gemstone experts, Kothari Jewels in Jaipur, where she specialised in fine hand rendering of traditional Kundan Meena jewellery. Upon her return to London, she assisted leading British jewellery designer, Alice Cicolini, before moving into the vibrant world of jewellery PR.  Natalie Perry Jewellery launched in 2017 and the debut Floral Fragments collection was born. It has been featured in leading titles such as The Times, JFW Magazine, Global Blue and A Magazine. 

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been selected as one of the Kickstart designers this year! This will be my first time showcasing my collections to the trade at an industry show so I’m looking forward to receiving expert feedback and hopefully making some new retail partnerships.”

Elisavet Messi, Elisavet Messi

Elisavet Messi, an award-winning Greek jeweller based in London, is known for her creative and innovative use of wire.  She bases her work on efficient essentialism; embracing the properties of the materials used,  to create minimal designs with sculptural values which typically find a balance between chaos and order, organic and geometric - a balance similar to the one that the wearer has to create in everyday life.  Elisavet has recently won the Gold Award of the Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers as a part of the Goldsmiths’ Craftmanship and Design Awards. 


Kate Laven


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