Goldsmith and artisan jeweller Jo Thorne is on a mission to reinvent the hairpin as a piece of statement jewellery, and it looks like she's succeeding.
Her Passion Flower Hairpin, delicately crafted in 18ct gold and set with green sapphires, won the gold award this month at the prestigious Goldsmiths' Craft & Design Council Awards.
The integrity and originality of the design, as well as Jo's innovative use of gold wire, impressed the judges. A large part of the piece is sculpted from a single length of heavy gauge gold wire, and the design is set with 60 rare green sapphires totalling 30 carats.
Jo says that picking up a gong at the awards, which are often referred to in the industry as the "Jewellery Oscars", was "a genuine honour". She adds: "The other really significant thing to me is the inclusion of a fine contemporary hair accessory in the awards. I'm driven by a passion for these forgotten icons of the fine jewellery world. I think a renaissance is long overdue."
Based in Lewes, East Sussex, Jo trained at Sir John Cass School of Art and recently completed a year mentoring under Annoushka Ducas on the Crafted programme, which is run by Walpole British Luxury and sponsored by Vacheron Constantin.
She says her fascination with hair accessories was born years ago when she saw an exquisite Lalique hairpin, made from carved horn, gold and diamonds, in the Musée D'Orsay in Paris.
"It was one of the most extraordinary and original pieces I'd ever seen," she says. "I suddenly had a realisation of the incredible beauty and sculptural potential of this genre of fine jewellery that was all but forgotten. Since then it's been my mission to reinvent the hairpin and tiara as fine contemporary jewellery. I want to create statement pieces that express something poetic as objects of beauty in themselves, but that also take on an extraordinary new dimension when worn."
This spring looks set to be a busy one for Jo. As well as launching her first 18ct gold collection and a new website, she is showing at the Royal Academy from 3-5 April as part of "Crafted: Makers of the Exceptional", presented by Walpole British Luxury in association with Vacheron Constantin. She is also looking for selected retailers to showcase her pieces and hopes to make an announcement in April.