By Åse Anderson
Now in its seventh year, the British Fashion Council's Rock Vault exhibition has become an unmissable showcase for some of the capital's most innovative and talented independent jewellery designers. Running alongside the high-profile London Fashion Week, Rock Vault has a dedicated space inside the Designer Showrooms on the ground floor of Somerset House.
Curated by renowned British jewellery designer Stephen Webster, this year's line-up of 10 designers, all with their own unique approach to jewellery design, is testament to the wealth of talent residing in London. Central St Martins graduate Alice Cicolini joined Rock Vault a year ago and, as well as designing her own collection, she has created guest collections for Annoushka, Designers Guild and 20Ltd. The latest Alice Cicolini jewellery collection, Summer Snow, features ethereally pretty jewels inspired by a bespoke tiara that Alice designed for a wedding last September. Named after the snow-like flurries of pollen that fall from poplar trees in Moscow in the height of summer, the jewels feature arcs of hand-carved blossoms interspersed with coloured gemstones in the shape of tourmalines, sapphires and morganites.
Tomasz Donocik is something of a Rock Vault veteran, having been part of the initiative since its inception. In his last season before graduating from the scheme, he presented a colourful collection that marks a departure from the dark, gothic pieces that we usually associate with this Polish-born designer. Inspired by the cult sci-fi classic Blade Runner, sharp shards of neon gemstones are set in rose gold to mimic the Art Deco-style skyscrapers in the movie. Some of the pieces in the new Electric Night collection of Tomasz Donocik jewellery are also available in more subtle combinations of rose gold and white diamonds, or white gold and emeralds.
Ornella Iannuzzi presented Rock It! - a range of high-end, ready-to-wear pieces that are an extension of her coveted Les Exceptionelles haute couture collection. Featuring Ornella's trademark opal spheres suspended in geometrically shaped dodecahedron cages, the new collection of Ornella Iannuzzi jewellery also incorporates black, white, yellow and champagne diamonds. Developed in collaboration with Parisian jewellery house Capet-Joaillier, Rock It! is lighter and more suitable for everyday wear than the couture pieces, while still remaining faithful to the French-born jeweller's design DNA. The collection encompasses earrings, rings, pendants, cufflinks and sautoirs in white, yellow or rose gold.
Old and new come together in Jo Hayes Ward jewellery, which is designed with the help of rapid prototyping technology and crafted using traditional jewellery techniques. The small building blocks that form the basis of her pieces combine an architectural aesthetic with an organic flow, which catches the light beautifully. The addition of diamonds - either as centre stones or pavé edging - and other gemstones such as sapphires and aquamarines add an extra dimension to her Stratus collection.
Jacqueline Cullen jewellery, made from Whitby Jet, a rare fossilised wood that is more than 180 million years old, is dramatically beautiful. This season, a generous sprinkle of black diamonds adds a tantalising sparkle to her pieces, which only serves to heighten their appeal. Speaking to The Jewellery Editor at Rock Vault, Jacqueline said the new pieces, which will form part of a full collection that will be launched at Couture Las Vegas, were inspired by Art Deco and Bauhaus architecture. She added: "I love being part of Rock Vault. We are all very different but it is great that you can create fine jewellery and still be innovative."
Showing at Rock Vault for a second season, Beth Gilmour's new Spectra collection uses different alloys of gold and sterling silver to create harmonious tonal and colour changes throughout the pieces. Also new for Autumn/Winter 2015 is the Dichroma collection featuring bi-colour quartz and ametrine to create shimmering colour effects ranging from black and purple, to orange and transparent yellow.
Jewellery design duo Shimell & Madden is also a relative newcomer to Rock Vault, having joined the initiative last summer. Their Autumn/Winter 2015 collection Orb was inspired by the movement of celestial bodies and the mechanisms used to track them, such as the orrery. Semi-spherical red cabochon garnets, fiery orange sapphires and circular diamond details bring to mind planets circling around their orbits.
Imbued with a rock 'n' roll edge, the strong clean lines of Hannah Martin jewellery have a distinct unisex appeal. The designer's iconic spur motif is both elegant and fierce, and on these pieces it has been stretched into an eye-pleasing symmetrical shape on both pendants and earrings.
Alongside Rock Vault, a number of other designers were also displaying their fine jewellery creations in the Designer Showrooms. Renowned for her contemporary pearl jewellery, Melanie Georgacopoulos has used coloured gemstones alongside her trademark pearls for the first time in her couture fine jewellery Glow collection. Inspired by the colour of the sky during a summer sunset, Glow features pieces in rose and white gold, with colour-graduating sapphires in pink, yellow and grey.