Pippa Small: philanthropic jeweller and pioneer of sustainable luxury

One of the best-known names in ethical jewellery, Pippa Small's latest designs are the ultimate in eco chic.

Pippa Small Navaratna ring in yellow gold with multi-coloured gemstones

By Ase Anderson in London

One of the best-known names in ethical jewellery, Pippa Small firmly believes the art of jewellery making can help alleviate poverty and reverse the exploitation historically associated with the gem industry. 

As well as working with the world's first registered Fairtrade gold mine in Bolivia, she has also launched collections with Fairtrade company MADE, based in Nairobi, and the charity Turquoise Mountain in Afghanistan. 

The designer's ninth collection for Turquoise Mountain includes doves of peace made of locally mined lapis lazuli, aquamarine waterfall necklaces and a small collection of faceted gems. Inspired by the nomads of central Asia - the Kochi people - a large three-strand lapis necklace celebrates their free and extravagant style. 

"2014 is a pivotal year for Afghanistan," says Pippa. "With both a massive withdrawal of foreign troops and also elections, the fate of the country is hanging in the balance."

She adds that is more important than ever to show support for the craftsmen of Afghanistan and help them hold on to the hope of a future where they will be recognised as skilled artisans. 

With a background in anthropology, Pippa is passionate about exploring ways of making jewellery that can assist in the revival of traditional skills and techniques in communities in Central America and Southern Africa. 

Her latest spring/summer 2014 Invisible Set collection was inspired by 18th-century Portuguese jewellery, when the importation of beautiful new stones from the colony of Brazil led to stunning new designs. 

The collection evokes the quiet glamour of another era by combining the earthiness of uncut stones and the allure of sparkle. The stones take centre stage as uncut Herkimer diamonds in varying sizes are worked together into a tight cluster, set in delicate gold and held in place from behind with a subtle claw.

An ancient empowering amulet from Asia, which bears the same name, inspired the colourful Navaratna collection, another of Pippa's recent creations. Meaning 'the nine gems' in Sanskrit, the traditional Navaratna consists of a single charm adorned with nine precious gems, each representing a different planet.

Pippa says: "I have always loved the idea of gems as talismans - as having a higher role in our life than mere adornment. When I discovered the 'Navaratna' on my first trip to India at 17 I was enthralled - and have remained so ever since."

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