About the designer

Barbara Acton-BondIn the midst of a Chinese market, among an array of luscious stones and jades, I found myself irresistibly drawn to the idea of making jewellery. Without training or previous experience but with artistic visions dancing around in my head, I began to gather elements I would somehow bring together. My focus was to make unique, striking necklaces, designs you wouldn't see anywhere else. I wanted the necklaces to be conversation pieces, yet they still had to look both chic and chilled. But above all, the jewellery had to be flattering and easy to wear. As a small child, I was fascinated by stones, their wonderful hues, textures and locations. But it was through my mother, at the age of 3 that my visual education began. Through auctions and markets, I learned to love the atmosphere of antiques, their history, charm, and beauty. And by 8, she taught me the allure of China through books, artefacts, food and culture. At the University of California at Berkeley and later at University College London, while studying the history of art and design, my growing passion for the subject convinced me that the joy of art, in whatever form, must be communicated. Eventually I produced, wrote and presented a television series on art and antiques, and still later, worked on a newspaper as an editor on an arts page, writing essays on art.

But it wasn’t until I was married and my husband was posted to Hong Kong that my interest in both China and antiquities converged. Tombs were being unearthed in China and incredible artefacts began to emerge. All my training, my eye for detail, colour, shape and history came to the fore. I was taught by experienced Chinese dealers and exposed to rare and wonderful pieces, including ancient court necklaces. Yet it wasn’t until I returned to England that my jewellery designs began to emerge.

Inspired by those Chinese court necklaces and the rich materials I came across, my desire was to create an amalgam of the ancient with the contemporary. In particular, I wanted to make necklaces that would bring a sense of history, beauty, and comfort. Within 6 months of starting, after trials and many errors, I was launched, first at the Victoria & Albert Museum shop, and then at Fortnum and Masons and Liberty’s. And now my home is in the British Museum's exclusive shop, The Grenville..

Some of the necklace's rich details