Many jewellers and jewellery houses around the world make bold claims to producing ethical jewellery, but few designers themselves actually make helping others the driving force of their life's work. Having worked across the world in Africa, Bolivia, Panama, and Afghanistan for grass-roots charities and campaigns for the underprivileged, Notting-Hill based jeweller and anthropologist Pippa Small shows a dedication that not many others can lay claim to.
But Pippa Small's jewellery isn't notable just for its ethical production and sourcing of raw materials but for the immediate and almost primal beauty of the pieces. With Pippa Small's jewellery, part of the charm is in the craft itself so much so that you can almost see the fingerprint of the craftsman. Seemingly hewn from the earth itself it is evident that the gold and stones are worked by hand, reminding us of the human element involved in jewellery making and how it can impact communities positively. Pippa Small is known for only using rough-cut stones and celebrates the natural beauty and colour of the stone with simple settings that wrap around the stone.
In this collection we see a charms with gold miniature owls, birds, eggs, and even lentil beads as well as brightly coloured earrings and more elaborate pieces such as the Jellyfish necklace that features a variety of colourless opals in which the opacity appears different in varying lights and with its multiple strands cascades down the neck. Flowers and birds are a strong theme throughout the collection, representing optimism, hope, and regeneration. These were inspired by her travels in India where she encountered a beautiful garden in the middle of the desert. From there she created the Pink Tourmaline Scatter ring and double flower earrings. The bird and and egg necklace is representative of the timeless question of which came first the chicken or the egg - while also expressing fertility and optimism and these were created while Pippa was pregnant.
Then there is the colour that grabs the eye. As well as the feel-good glow of the Fairtrade gold used in some of the pieces, Small has deployed a rainbow of coloured stones throughout that bring the designs to fiery life. Green and pink tourmalines, multi-coloured opals, as well as rough rubies are all used. Again, the settings and the stones themselves lend an earth-hewn quality to the jewellery, clearly influenced by the cultures Pippa Small has visited over her well-travelled life. In fact, the feeling of 'found' could be attributed to the fact that from an early age the designer made jewellery from gems, shells, and minerals. Just look at the giant opal waterfall necklace, with cascading multi-coloured opals delicately strung together with gold, and you'll see what I mean.
What we come back to in the end though is that as well as creating beautiful jewels such as these, part of the joy for the wearer is knowing that Pippa Small's exemplary ethics are an important ingredient. These aren't the highly polished work of age-old ateliers with elaborate histories to tell, these are tangible examples of wit, craft, culture, and moral obligation, all perfectly realised.