Background

“I’m a jewellery designer maker based on the South-East London/Kent borders. I offer a one-to-one design consultation service for wedding and engagement rings, either sculpted, mokume gane or traditional, from first sketch to finished piece.

“I have made hundreds of uniquely sentimental and romantic rings and charge similar to high street prices for a bespoke product. I am also open to any and all other commission ideas.

“Please have a look through to see what’s possible and get in touch if you have an idea that you think I might be able to help with. There are also a lot of stock designs that are available in a shorter time-frame so email us if you are interested.”

Biographies

 

 

Richard – Jewellery Designer/Maker

After finishing school in 1999 with physics, chemistry and art A-levels Richard studied a foundation art course at Central St Martins, before moving on to a silversmithing and blacksmithing degree at Camberwell Art College in 2000. He had got very much into painting, enjoying a slightly more refined version of the fauvist’s use of colour, and clay sculpture, but felt metalwork combined his love of science and art. He used this to make some damascus steel knives and experimental musical instruments. Sculpture had been an interest to him before college, but he had decided against studying it because he was becoming inspired more by processes, wanted to get his hands dirty, and was frustrated by all the talking. It was during a study exchange to Germany that his love of sculpture found its place in metalwork, when he was introduced to lost wax casting. It was also here that he learned to combine the freedom of British creativity with the seriousness of German craftsmanship.

 

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Although the main focus of Richard’s degree was metalsmithing, the techniques he learnt inspired a lot of his early jewellery, and he still applies many of the skills and styles he learnt to what he makes now, from mokume gane, to the crude forged rings. He also studied photography for his degree, which has been extremely useful for documenting his work.

Whilst at college, Richard had the fortune to be invited for a brief stint of work experience with the sculptor Anthony Gormley, who made the Angel of the North. Richard also had great experiences teaching silversmithing at summer camps in the USA. Americans are really quite good at heartfelt expression of their feelings, which comes up quite a bit in his trade.

Before he made jewellery-making his profession, Richard was a secondary school art teacher in London for three years, which included running a department in a school in Tulse Hill. It could be argued that after working with children for so long he felt it was less important to be a clever conceptual artist and learned to embrace a much simpler design style.

 

Becca – Business Manager

Becca spent thirteen years working in the City of London as a secretary and then Accounts Executive for major Financial PR firms. She became the multitasker-in-chief for particular kinds of genius who need help dovetailing with the world, and developed into an expert in making sure very clever ideas became actual things that actually happened.

When Becca met Richard at the beginning of 2013 (this was probably the most suave moment in Richard’s life, but that’s another story), she had begun to realise that it was time to leave the City, and Richard was also feeling like he needed some help with the business. The skills that Becca gained over her 13 years working in the City gave her the perfect background for taking over running Richard’s business. Richard’s work has improved immeasurably since he doesn’t have to do two people’s work any more, and he no longer looks quite as shell-shocked all the time.

It was a huge learning curve for Becca as she didn’t know anything at all about jewellery, but within a year she had got to grips with it and has hugely enjoyed absorbing an entirely new subject, and is planning on taking a gemmology qualification once baby rearing has been done!

2015 was a slightly quieter year for Becca as she became pregnant and gave birth to Lexi in October, but as of May 2016 she was properly back in her seat. Lexi’s apprenticeship is due to start in 2017.

Spirits, a fairy cake, and why I decided to make jewellery for a living.

 

 

“During my degree I wrote my dissertation about cave paintings. I was interested in how art began and tried to put far too many things into one essay, just about scraping a pass. As with many things in my life so far, the worse I objectively did, the more I use what I learned in my day-to-day life. There are a lot of theories about religion in cave art and one thing jumped out at me, which is that people all over the world, at completely different times, thought that the spirits of their ancestors went into stone when they died. This seems like quite a strange thing to say, and if someone showed you a stone and told you their dead great grandfather lived in it, we would question their sanity, but this seems to be an idea that resonates with us, what we now refer to as ‘sentimental value’. To me, metal is the technological progression of stone. It comes from stone, extracted through various ritualistic and spellbinding methods: it’s hard and heavy like stone, but much, much tougher, and we can shape it to incredible degrees through this magical process we call smithing.

“The most spiritual metal objects were once weapons, holding the power of life and death, and where faith could give you an edge in battle. These days they’re treated with a healthy scepticism among those who generally try to avoid warfare, plus the fact that now the best weapons are mass produced, reducing the magic of the craftsman and the weapon’s uniqueness.

“This is why I make jewellery. Things like wedding rings, engagement rings, signet rings and other special, commemorative gifts, strike me as the greatest modern vessels for the spirituality we once assigned to stone. A wedding ring might sit on someone’s finger for sixty years, taking tiny marks from everything they do and absorbing their personality. I like to think that in centuries to come we will be able to place a wedding ring into a machine that will analyse all the molecules and use that to extrapolate every aspect of the wearer’s life, a bit like the fairly cake in the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. While I don’t necessarily believe the ghost of the wearer is held in the metal, I think there is definite value in embracing the sentimentality, which is why I love my job so much.”

Richard Chown, July 2016