About the Necklace

Bi-disc necklace

Each necklace is a bespoke design, that is, customized to my own requirements, so that no necklace will ever be the same. Even if I wanted to reproduce what I have designed, the elements I use are simply not available. The pendants are unique and the stones, metals even colours cannot be found again. I can repeat effective colour ways or designs, but the materials and pendants will be different. The down side is that a necklace you might want, may not be available anymore. The up side is that only you will have the necklace you purchase. You can browse currently available necklaces on this site in our online shop which can be accessed via the menu at the top of each page.

My necklaces are a blend of Asian ideas with Western tastes, antique elements with the contemporary. Using raw materials, some with inclusions and interesting flaws, and some highly worked and polished, the necklaces can be dramatic, but they never overwhelm. Some are delicate, almost classical; others are chunky and mildly ethnic. Colour, harmony, texture and charm are primary considerations. But the necklace usually begins with a pendant, full of symbolism and delightful stories. Its colour, shape and mood dictate my choice of elements.

With each necklace, I have chosen from a mixture of semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls, antique and new jades, handmade silver, gold, vermeil, antique bronze, mammoth, bone, Georgian, Victorian and Art Deco elements, along with hand blown glass, shells, and even polished seeds. Harmonious colours, sometimes bold and other times subtle, are the key factor in selecting each bead.

Two elements I return to endlessly are both wonderfully handmade items, artworks and individual pieces of sculpture in themselves. One is the Karen Hill Tribe silver from Thailand. Each bead uses very pure silver, 96% silver in content, and is crafted with great pride and skill. I have never come across silver beads, unless made by artists in the West, with such attention to detail and imagination.

Glass blowerThe other element is hand blown glass. Recently, on a heavenly trip to Venice, I discovered by chance, a wonderful glass blower making beads in his own Venetian studio (not in Murano). I was completely won over. He is an artist and a glassmaker who actually welcomes visitors, not as a tourist attraction but as a working artist engaged in his chosen form of art and he has chosen to devote his talents to the small form of bead making rather than anything grander.

Glass rodsKnown as “il Muanero”, Moulaye Niang is the first Senegalese immigrant to become a master in the art of glassmaking in Venice. Originally from Senegal, he moved to Paris to study art at the Academy and then moved to Venice where he was blown away by the Venetian skills of glassmaking. He studied at the Abate Zanetti Glass School in Murano and his mentor was the master glassmaker, Egidio Costantini. For over a decade, Moulaye has been creating glass beads without getting tired of his trade because he aspires to evoke the colours and atmosphere of Africa with the techniques and traditions of Venice. He continuously experiments with techniques often creating matte surfaces by applying an acid to the beads, and then adding silver and numerous coloured canes to just one bead. He can work on a bead for hours. Moulaye grew up breathing art but the art was fueled by his African roots. It is often said that you can almost hear the birds flying over the plains of Africa, as you look at and feel his richly endowed beads.

My colleague Conchita San PedroChinese knotting, which is magnificently crafted with such care and expertise by my colleague Conchita, a Filipina who has adopted Britain as her current home, has learned this skill and now takes it in her stride, but it is a difficult technique to master. Using a silk/polyester cord, I have opted for this traditional technique because partly it is a link to the past, partly it sets off the design so that the stones don’t dominate, and partly because it makes a heavy necklace lighter and more comfortable to wear. The cord is washable. It is not detachable, as it is integral to the whole necklace. 

I must also add here that Conchita is my “quality control” officer.  If a bead is missing or the wrong size, she courageously alerts me to “the problem” causing an emission of grumbles because it means I have to re-string the necklace.  But the necklace must be right. Without her sharp eye for detail, my necklaces would be missing their lovely finish. More importantly, having known Conchita for over twenty-five years, she is not only a dear friend but also a remarkable woman for her generousity, her readiness to respond to new challenges, and her tireless energy.  I have always been able to turn to her whenever I am in a pickle or need help.  And always Conchita comes up trumps.

All clasps are of the toggle design, hand made of silver or gold filled, which is silver plated 4 times with 14kt gold. 14kt gold is also used but will always be stated.

I also make a simpler and less expensive necklace using a base of either a silk handmade band, a silk handmade chain or a handmade band consisting of multi strands of coloured PVc covered steel wires which sports a  magnet clasp. From these I hang a melange of pendants and elements: a rich hit of fascinating colours, shapes and textures.

Whether worn with jeans and a t-shirt or a suit for the office, the necklaces tend to pull a look together and give it a kind of buzz. This is what I’ve tried to achieve, and, according to my clients I have succeeded beyond my hopes. Many clients relate the complements they receive. Others tell me they never take the necklace off. And there are still others who have a mass of my necklaces.

But some clients have come back with unforgettable stories. One told me she wore her necklace on her way to hospital. Not only was she complemented on her appearance, thus giving her spirits a boost, but she also found enormous comfort in gently touching the jade pendant. Another client told me that the day after she bought her necklace, having been told the story of fruitfulness which the jade pendant held, her daughter in law became pregnant, having tried for years.

I have often been asked why I don’t make earrings or bracelets to coordinate with the necklaces. The reason is simply overkill. Because the necklace is a statement in itself, a simple matching pearl, gold or silver earring is just the right balance. I do however offer a few earrings that complement the necklaces. They are either antique earrings, or they use antique materials. These are available in the Online Shop. They will either appear on the page near appropriate necklaces, or they will be suggested when you choose a necklace to look at.