By Ase Anderson in London
These perfectly formed regal crowns may look fit for a king but in art, as in life, appearances can be deceptive.
Measuring just 5cm x 5cm, the miniature sapphire-studded crowns were commissioned in 2010 by White Cube artist Raqib Shaw to adorn the heads of two new sculptures he had created that have traveled to exhibitions in London, Basel, and New York.
Created by Nicola Pulvertaft, designer and owner of jewellery brand Powder Hill, they are perfect scaled-down replicas of the crown worn by the king of Bavaria.
Raqib had asked for the crowns to be encrusted with multi-coloured sapphires and, as luck would have it, his sister owned a sapphire mine in Punjab. After using computer technology to produce the miniature 3D designs, Nicola was presented with two ice-cream containers bursting with colourful gemstones. Of these, 532 stones were set into each crown.
Renowned for her signature themes of wildlife, Victorian adornment and country field sports with a quirky and playful English edge, Nicola has designed exclusive collections for Harvey Nichols, Holland & Holland and Alice Temperley. She set up Powder Hill (the name is derived from the Old English roots of her family name: Pulver = Powder, Taft = Hill) 18 months ago and recently launched an online shop selling the brand's collections.
Her Spring/Summer 2014 Best-Kept Secret collection includes sumptuous cocktail rings, with circles of sapphires echoing the spinning targets of clay pigeon shooting on signature double-barrelled shanks. Wing earrings, with a flock of pink sapphires gently flaring out from the ear, are inspired by the wings of birds of prey, with a nod to Victorian scroll designs.
An exquisitely simple bangle is dressed up for cocktail hour with a champagne-coloured golden citrine framed by orange sapphires. It is also available with rose quartz and pink sapphires or sea green quartz paired with diamonds.