At the House of Hackney

I am going crazy for House of Hackney, is there nothing that they cannot make beautiful!?

This I know is a deviation from the golden metal pieces that I normally cover, but I don’t care I have to put on paper how much this brand has impressed me.

I first discovered the room of my dreams in the interiors show in Birmingham NEC. I was happily walking around looking at designers and showrooms, when I stumbled upon the new designers section. There was suddenly a little more light surrounding me, everything seemed a little brighter and more to my taste. I was standing with my back to the gorgeous delight that is the Dalston Rose Room, currently captivated by a man making fun designed brogues in many exciting colours – and to my joy turned around to be facing this room. When you first see it you feel that it is beautiful but after a while you notice the complexities, the wallpaper is darker at the bottom of the room, it sort of fades into a midnight blue and gives the impression of being in a film – but an old film where the cameras can only record so much light in the focused area and has to give up the ghost towards the end of the frame

dalston rose

So I carried on with the day’s duties but made a plan to pop back later to talk to the designers and find out more information about the whole thing. When I came back there was still no one there, so I sat down on the corner of this room and gazed into it for a while, just imagining walking up and pulling back those rose printed covers to make a pot of tea in my printed tea cup, getting back into bed and sitting there for an hour or so reading or just being. Whilst enjoying this little daydream I was suddenly pulled back into the real world of the slightly more jarring NEC huge halls. A woman was standing next to me saying how much she loved the room – so I jumped in with how much I loved it too and then grabbed the show book that they had placed on the floor and started showing this lady other designs and rooms that had such imagination and playfulness and most importantly the quality to die for ! It was a little while before I realised that this lady thought that I was the designer as I was so into it and lots of the other sections did have people manning the designs to pass on info on their stuff. So I had to admit that this was not my creation and that I was merely a happy daydreamer that had wandered into this enchanting world that had captivated me to the point of not being able to walk on by, but to stop and stare awhile.

One last thing that I did want to impress upon was this quality that I spoke of earlier, it is most relevant in the animal print above on this sofa. It is the idea that these playful images of animals get given a splash of decadence because of the divine rich sumptuous fabric. I found it very hard to tear myself away from the world of this design as it seemed to fit me, it made me feel at home and excited to be there. It reaffirmed my idea that nothing has to be dull, that we can live in love with everything around us.

Hidden Treasure

A while ago now I bought this ring from Jewel Heritage. I was on a search for it after seeing it in the evening standard on the tube. When I saw it I almost said out loud how beautiful it was to my unfamiliar neighbor. I see jewellery like something that you have to hunt down. Once you have it in your sights and focus on it you will have to get it at whatever cost!

So I looked them up online that evening, having enjoyed the idea that they are two sisters, that wish to make reasonably priced jewellery for the regular and extra regular person. I had been looking at VeraMeat previous to this and was on board with the animal type (skulls or alive) pieces. However I am not some trend follower who would jump on any piece with a skull in sight. For me it has to be about good craftsmenship and it has to spark my imagination. Basically I have to be able to attach a story to it, or at least feel like a story could come should I want to think of one.

So you may be starting to see a pattern in my taste that I adore the fantastical. I love to feel like a piece that I am wearing has been made of pure imagination twinned with talent.

So this piece by jewel heritage is great for me because it is a great piece that already has a story of being anti blood diamond trade, with the four skulls holding up a stone that is not a diamond, but it also could be treasure that has been found on a sunken pirate ship. That has somehow found it’s way to me.

I find that my fingers change shape quite regularly and so this ring although it fit when I first bought it, during the winter period it became to loose and with this ring it is quite frustrating as it is very raised and the stone would fall with gravity to rest upon the side of my finger. I wear this silver chain necklace most days, it was given to me by a dear friend Johanna, she bought it from brazil so unfortunately I can’t say where exactly where it came from. The silver chain has a tiny silver bird on it, it lies flat against you, it is simplistic in style. At first I really liked it but I had no idea how important it would become to me. This piece has become like something I have had forever, I can’t imagine life without it. I don’t wear it every single day, but then that is not my character, I do wear it most days and sometimes I miss it when I don’t put it on. I think that it is really about intent, my friend bought this for me because she could see me in it, she at that moment saw me more clearly than I could see myself.

I was having one of those days when the ring was loose and so I put it on the silver chain as that was what I was wearing, I imagined that I would get a gold chain eventually. Then I realized that I really liked the way that it looked the mismatching and the way the tiny silver bird seemed to fly through the gold ring, sometimes in your line of sight and sometimes just behind and out of sight. The piece for me is now more dynamic and I rarely ever wear it now on my finger!

This is the wonderful thing with jewellery, is that it becomes yours, you feel after a while that it is more yours than the designers or the shops that sold it, and you don’t think of all the other people who have bought it too. Good jewellery pieces do become intimate and they do begin to belong to you, more I think than clothes by the nature of the material as it is durable and therefore when you choose to wear a piece you know that potentially you could wear that piece for the rest of your life.

Empress rings

When and why did we stop using the word emperor and empress. I have no desire to be a queen as it sounds old, princess sounds like a pathetic little child, but empress sounds like fun. I went on the quest for empress style jewellery. This for me was looking for jewellery with real strength.

This one that is actually called the Empress Ring by Mimata is a great example as it is feminine with the four pearls, but also has this edgy look of a knuckle duster. When you put it on from above you can only see the pearls, but it still has this slightly riotous feel.

The next is a personal favorite of mine, it looks so impressive, it is – Ista design by Mevesh, sold at bottega online. The pieces have the look of the ottoman empire. The black with these little barb like bits coming up to hold the gem in place, reminding us of wrought iron gates, which evokes a feeling of old fashioned romanticism but also of something just slightly dangerous or unknown, which makes the piece look exotic. I love the contrast of the dark (black) metal and the white grey stone with the embellished gold and diamonds. The actual ring would look rather masculine except for the gold circular floral patterns. It is a slightly manly ring, however as I was discussing with a lady who runs a vintage leather and fur shop on portobello, girls can get away with it, if they are wearing a trench coat they look either cool or not (depending on how they wear it) but rarely do they look like a pervert. However with men it can be a fine line. I know many a man that has been mistaken for a homeless person, just because of their style, and that would look a little frightening if met on a dark alley. But woman, we get away with lots of stereotypical harsh looks and look all the better for it.

Sultan

I have also discovered a new designer for me and that is Jayce Wong. She is a central Saint Martins graduate, which makes me happy, as am I. The rings are so beautiful, they feel amazing on. The one which is held up by four white pearls is my personal favorite, although the other is perhaps a more exciting and unusual design. I love how high they sit on your finger but how right they feel, it is the mark of good design that you put them on and within minutes you are used to how they feel on your finger.

So these are some of my favorite empress like pieces. Rings that are feminine but with an edge, they are big rings but with the aid of good design able to feel and look like positive fine pieces instead of costume designs.

I have to just add one more piece that I have recently tried on and it is just gorgeous, it is by cabinet and stocked at Kabiri Kings Rd, where you will find really interesting well informed staff, that make the whole experience that much more fun. This is the ring that is next on my wish list it is a jet stone on I believe rose gold. This has a special significance for me as when I was younger I borrowed my mum’s jet stone necklace and loved it, it became a part of my dressing up phase at art college that was quite a massive part of my life. We would take over a hallway in the college and dress it with wallpaper fabric and all sorts of props – then we had a wardrobe to die for thanks to friends of mine bringing in their relatives designer dresses. And then we would play and get everyone involved, male female, art student or visitors. Well my mothers jet beads were a part of this scene and personal favorite of mine and this piece reminds me of that time.

It also, as a ring makes you feel great whilst wearing it. The design is the most important thing here although the jet stone is very impressive, it is the way it is raised with the four claws of gold clutching onto the black stone and the sweeping golden cradle underneath that make this ring a personal favorite of mine.

Road To Kabiri

On the search for unusual and unique pieces of jewellery, my internet research all seems to lead to the same shop – Kabiri. I have been reading up on the Vogue jewelry blogs and two that were of interest to me sent me straight to Kabiri, one was a review on the new jewellery designer Gisele Ganne – who is actually not so new as I hadn’t realised at the time that the reviews were more than a few years old.

The gisele ganne jewellery is similar to the very on trend fashion of animal skulls but with the added delicacy of minute flowers in gold and soft colours. It is said to have Victorian influences which makes sense as to why it appeals to my taste.

The second vogue blog was on Brunini, which was also said to be stocked at Kabiri, there was an image of a Brunini ring that was so beautiful –

New Kabiri store

The simplicity of the style and the gorgeous colour of the silver metal with this soft grey green pearl and just the hint of diamonds.

So I had been successfully directed to Kabiri Covent Garden by my adoration of these items, and Covent Garden was said to be stocking the edgier items – Yes please!

Imagine my joy when I go onto the Kabiri website to take a quick peak before setting off into the world that they also stock the delicious Clare English Magpie Swag ring !

So no matter what else happened that day, my mission was clear to get to kabiri and try on some rings !

The day started with a boring transaction needing to be at Urban Outfitters who overcharged me for a sale item, with this completed, my boyfriend and I set off through the backstreets of Soho towards our goal of Covent Garden. He has lived in London all his life but still looked like a lost pup, so I grabbed his hand to weave my way through this land of London like a sailor through iceberg riddled water.

On this journey I start to tire, my low blood sugar is making the decisions now, so we decide to stop for sushi, we dive into China town and walk down the main street to soak up the colour and sounds, and end up standing outside of the Tokyo Dinner a favorite sushi place of mine, we look at the menu – mouths watering and decide that we would have to spend a fortune to fill ourselves with sushi and that perhaps a more sensible option is chinese dim sum. So we walk on and spy a little dark looking restaurant, there are lanterns above each individual wooden table and it looks most inviting, so I make the impulse decision and we scurry in. Inside it is no disappointment, the walls are a deep rich wood the same as the tables, it has a simple beauty and we happily settle down to what turns out to be a most delicious meal of dim sum, king prawn noodles, tom yum soup and amazing honey roast ribs. All for a mere £25 at Beijing Dumplings just off china town.

So with food in our bellies we continued with the journey towards gold. A quick walk from china town and with a naughty stop on the way at a tempting sweet trove buying the closest thing to red vines our country has to offer and some sugar coated marshmallows. We continue and finally arrive at the covent garden market, we start walking around and duck into Links London to ask where Kabiri is. A man with the neatest bushy beard I have ever seen admits that he has never heard of it, but that they have only been there for 5 weeks, this makes me slightly nervous. He also directs us to a charms style unusual jewellery store, N2, that we made it to later, although not to my taste it was rather fun to look round.

Walking round the market we walk into another jewellery store and ask the same question, to my utter dismay they say that it was next door but closed down a few weeks ago. NO !

I walk next door and pretty polly has replaced my anticipated treasure trove of Gold! The legs with frilly tights lining the shop window seem to be mocking me, pretty polly indeed!

This has pushed me towards a spiral into gloom, my inner spoilt child comes to the surface and pouts, leaving my boy to make all the decisions about where to next and with the job of cheering me up, or looking at gloom face for the next few hours.

We head for regent st, he is saying on route how we will find the most beautiful jewellery stores and they will taste all the better for all the hard work that we have put in. So I put gloom on hold for a moment and we skip through the manic post christmas streets of London. We’re on Carnaby Street and he pulls me into this native american looking jewellery store, I state perhaps a little loudly that it is not quite right and then we ask where does unusual jewellery and I add in that we are after slightly smaller pieces that are more designie, obviously realizing how rude that this sounds after I have said it ! We are directed around the corner and like a beacon of light, I see it ‘Beyond the Valley’ finally a shop that I know will have at least one thing that I love in it. Now as much as these boutique’s are the best way to shop you do pay for the good taste in produce by always having to put up with a moody manager, who looks at all customers like they just let there dogs poo on her brand new white rug. I think that it must be in the job description, we want people to know that we are a cool shop we need a horrid moody manager and then a flurry of very cute nice young girls to take the edge off, standard fashion boutique package. Anyhow I got to try on beautiful Naomi Klien and violet darkling rings which I had not yet seen in the flesh. And we saw the lovely undergrowth’s Tina Tsang’s white patterned crockery that we have known and loved for a while!

tea set by Undergrowth Design

And then onto liberty’s for more trying and not much buying. We decided that Kabiri would have to be a mission for another day as it was getting late and there was not much chance of getting to the marylebone! I called the head office and a very helpful person talked to me about the new store in Kings Rd and whether the Clare English ring was stocked there.

I did finally make it to the Kings Rd store and was surprised to find that I was actually a big fan of the more traditional jewellery by Arik Kastan. When lying next to the magpie swag ring you could really tell the quality difference – not to say they don’t have their own unique beauty, but the Arik Kastan pieces are things that will grow with you, they have a unworldly beauty rather than a fantastical facade.