IJL Design Gallery showcases the best of UK jewellery design talent
By David Brough
Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough outlines a fresh initiative from International Jewellery London (IJL) to support outstanding jewellery design talent.
MAY 31, 2019 – IJL Design Gallery showcases the best of UK jewellery design talent. The IJL Design Gallery is a showcase for the best emerging talent in the UK, a hotbed of creativity in the global jewellery industry. Design pioneers like Birmingham-based Fei Liu will present their latest collections in the IJL Design Gallery this year.
“The IJL Design Gallery reflects the spirit of British creativity in the jewellery industry,” Fei points out. “It has also become the international stage attracting retailers from the U.S. and around the world who wish to showcase ‘Britishness’. I think the Design Gallery is the best opportunity for UK-based designers like me, to show off our work.”
Fei will be presenting his new “Victoriana” gold jewellery collection, a combination of vintage and modern chic, at the IJL Design Gallery in 2019, and will show some of his most recent bespoke diamond and gem-set pieces.
Rachel Galley, another star of the UK jewellery design scene, who has exhibited in the IJL Design Gallery, highlights that the UK is a fabulous environment for designers to test their creativity to the limits with Fei Liu adding that: “The diversity of multicultural Britain has greatly impacted our jewellery industry. A freedom of imagination has enabled British creative talent to be at the centre stage not only of the jewellery industry, but also in fashion and other industries.”
“I think maybe people in Britain think outside of the box a little bit more in terms of design and are not afraid to push the boundaries of both design and manufacturing techniques,”
Brian Hill, Consultant, Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council, suggests that: “The community of designer makers in the UK remains strong and vibrant. The UK is one of the leading countries to encourage and support creative talent in jewellery and silversmithing.”
On the subject of fresh talent within the industry, Sofie Boons, Head of Academy at the British Academy of Jewellery, commented that: “With a variety of jobs available in the sector and a range of support accessible to those starting their own businesses, the UK’s jewellery industry is keen to welcome and support them to emerge and flourish.”
IJL has an international reputation for showing new talent and has run innovative events such as “Bright Young Gems,” which has helped the careers of fledgling designers to take off. Showcases like the Design Gallery are important for these rising stars because retailers take greater risks when they invest in emerging talent, compared to established brands.
The Design Galley separates the smaller, more independent designers from the bigger brands in a clear space, Rachel notes. “The layout is open and clear and allows the visiting buyers to see all the designers showing their latest pieces in one place, the area is a great environment for designers to show their individuality and new products in an intimate and relaxed way.”
“British creativity has always been known for representing something new and different. The Design Gallery has become the opportunity to demonstrate all kinds of new ideas.”
Isabella Liu, who is shortlisted as Young Designer of the Year in the forthcoming 2019 UK Retail Jeweller Awards, is an example of a designer who came to the UK from her native China, attracted by the appeal of Britain as a hotbed of jewellery design talent. She believes that the UK’s educational institutions in jewellery making and goldsmithing, help the country stand out as an ideal location for talent from around the world to develop and commercialise their own brands.
The strength of the arts and creative industries in the UK is what Isabella thinks “attracts many national and international students to develop themselves in the British arts and design system, including jewellery and craftsmanship courses.”
Alexander Davis, a former winner of Best Designer at the UK Jewellery Awards, believes the UK presents a great opportunity to budding designers through its design colleges and mentoring programmes saying, “The UK – and London in particular – is a melting pot of trans-cultural influences, and is an environment where entrepreneurialism is promoted and cherished”
“The ethos in the UK is that you can dare to be different, and you don’t need to be scared to be creative.”