Handmade Designer Jewellery

Anna McDadeAW2012 is seeing oversized statement pieces becoming firmly entrenched in British wardrobes and ensembles. Mere boxes no longer suffice to hold a girl’s jewellery; nowadays a whole drawer, or chest of drawers is required to house a jewellery collection, such is the growing size of the average neckpiece or bangle.


Past seasons’ ‘big’ is now even bigger, but not necessarily bolder; rather ‘cleverer’ or ‘more unique’. There is a strong sense that handmade designer jewellery is here to stay and that consumers are starting to develop an appreciation for artisan crafted jewellery pieces. Small scale studio casting has never been more accessible for independent makers than now, making the design possibilities for bespoke customers even wider.


Camali Design









 Characteristics across the autumn/winter themes are:

-    Other body jewellery. New arrangements in the form of multi-finger rings, ear cuffs and upper arm pieces (to name a few) have become fashion staples over the past few years. Many jewellers are now actively experimenting with new concepts, whilst others are beginning to explore new shapes and arrangements previously tried by other jewellers to see if it will be well received by their customers – how your own clients will respond to new pieces is something that only you will be able to gauge.

-    Oversized earrings in the form of shoulder dusters, hoops and chandeliers. They were big before; now they’re bigger!

-    Oversized handmade designer jewellery statement pieces  - chokers, collars, bibs and cuffs

-    Rings, again, huge and oversized. Cocktails rings have sometimes grown into full scale sculptural affairs.

-    Brooches. We began to see vintage brooches reappearing a few years ago along with the whole retro trend – this season the brooch makes a comeback in its own right.

-    Pearls in various colours, shapes and sizes - always a classic.

-    Bright and bold colour mixes with all the colours of the rainbow in a single vibrant jewellery piece.

 Ruby James








And the themes for AW12 are:

-    The colour black is set to dominate this A/W, both for clothes and jewellery, meaning good news for jewellers on two fronts. Black stones, beads and metal finishes will be popular as jewellery components and the predominance of black clothing provides the perfect backdrop for bold jewellery pieces.

-    The spontaneous bohemian look of layered pendants and beads is still popular, although as with other long standing trends, it is always wise to introduce a fresh interpretation with a new season – it gives your customers an excuse for a new purchase.

-    Multi-media jewellery is still sought after, with jewellers becoming ever more inventive with new textures, hues and materials.

-    Vintage jewellery of all eras is still prevalent with many jewellers frequently being approached by clients presenting their own pieces for remodelling.

-    Tribal and Far Eastern design elements are still a strong feature in current designs.

-    Jewels in huge traditional cuts, but increasingly rough cut gems and unusually shaped organic shards of stone.

-    Personalised jewellery has become a widespread staple over the past few years. Customers are still eager to wear that special piece that has sentimental or symbolic significance to them. These items are often lighter and more subtle in design.

-    Bold, ornate jewellery with a luscious meld of design influences, shades and surface treatments. Jewellery artists are getting the chance to explore their creativity and the jewellery buying public seem eager to wear something new.

Stephanie Bates










As with all trends, knowing your clients and having a strategy for reaching new customers is vital. Lifestyles are in flux and shopping habits are adapting with new technologies. Be prepared to market your work on as many different platforms as possible. In the ongoing shift away from high streets, customers are increasingly turning to the internet to find that unique ‘something’ and a plethora of online boutique websites have emerged recently to fulfil this market. They are all carefully curated and styled with the shopper in mind and selling your work through this genre of online retailer may be an option to consider.

If you haven’t already embraced social media for your business, do! Social media sites offer you the chance to communicate directly with your customers enabling immediate feedback on new designs and ideas. Furthermore, research has shown that the SM sites do result in improved sales, with Twitter at the top of the league table. And they’re free……what’s not to like?

Jayne Coulson