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Sheila RousselI visited New Designers at the Business Design Centre in Islington on Wednesday and can highly recommend this year’s exhibition. This showcase of graduate talent from the year’s creative arts students is an annual treat for fashionistas, enthusiasts and designers alike.

Seeing (and trying on!) the fruits of three years hard study and creative work from the hundreds of students who exhibit there is a privilege and even more so to be able to meet the student designers and hear about their design process and inspirations.

This year’s show seems…more diverse. There is a greater variety of style, material and making technique within the students of the various universities this year. Visitors gain a tangible sense of each designer having embarked on their own unique journey of creativity with many students working from a conceptual basis, developing an idea through larger sculptures or objet and finally producing a piece of wearable jewellery.

I also noticed a real embrace of the use of ‘other’ materials in the pieces of work, to the extent that sterling silver seemed to be employed in equal measure alongside pewter, copper, brass, wood and steel for the structural body of jewellery pieces. I felt as if I had entered a realm where silver and gold were not the favoured metals for jewellery making!

This year, as in previous years we will be offering GoJD Gold Memberships to the three graduates from New Designers whose work shows craftsmanship, creativity, integrity, innovation and a commercial edge. As well as these qualities, we are looking for individuals who are keen to start up straight away as self-employed jewellers, so that the PPL insurance and range of supplier discounts will be of best use to them in the first year after graduation.

Hazel Clarrie Baker – Birmingham City University

Hazel Clarrie Baker







Highly symbolic and intimate, Hazel’s pieces have a quiet ‘earthy’ quality cultivated by her fascination with copper patinas and found objects. Her work consists of tiny weathered vessels and shapes of metal that have been chemically and heat treated in various ways to produce a stunning array of coloured surfaces and are then married with each other to form jewellery pieces.


Jennifer MacKinlay – Glasgow School of Art

Jennifer MacKinley







Many of Jennifer’s pieces incorporate found mineral elements collected from her travels in Iceland and North America juxtaposed with wax carved metal castings and found materials. Her interest in ancient man and his methods of protection have fed into Jennifer’s sublime collection of organically tribal jewellery which is simultaneously roughly hewn and finely finished.


Catherine Ritchie – Duncan of Jordanstone University of Dundee

Catherine Richie








It is hard not to be seduced by Catherine’s whimsical movable jewellery. It is cute, it is very solidly made and you can play with it! What’s not to like? She has also been wise enough to design a more affordable range and in doing so, serves two markets with one concept – it is difficult not to be impressed.

Holly Browning – Middlesex

Holly Browning







Holly’s attraction to lines, electromagnets and pylons has spurred her on to design a collection of striking linear neckpieces that are unusual and colourful as well as being eminently wearable. The absolutely brilliant thing about her range of solidly engineered jewellery is that each component has a screw thread at either end, making the whole piece entirely customisable by the wearer. There are literally over one hundred ways to wear her six section neckpiece!


Gloria Wireko – Middlesex

Gloria Wireko







Inspired by the processes of scarification practiced in the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, Gloria has developed this sophisticated and tactile range of jewellery which sees wild shapes and hues married with a highly fashionable finish.


Lois May Freestone – Birmingham City University

Lois May Freestone








Lois has produced a glorious array of stone rings. Each setting is precisely and meticulously fashioned in a variety of cubistic shapes and then set with a length or lengths of crystal. The stones are all pressure set and when viewed from above there are sizable gaps between the stones and the settings, which provides a pleasing and refreshing look.


Sophie Elizabeth – UCA Rochester

Sophie Elizabeth









Sophie makes jewellery that looks as if it has been made by the fairies. She uses mainly CAD technology on the thinnest of thin slices of sterling silver to create delicately flowered earrings and headpieces. Metal that thin doesn’t often have a look of quality, but Sophie’s jewellery is so beautifully finished and structurally firm that it oozes the essence of fine jewellery. Easily, the best fairy jewellery that I have ever seen ;-)


Sheila Roussel - Duncan of Jordanstone University of Dundee

Sheila Roussel








Sheila makes pieces that exude spontaneity, warmth, emotion and nostalgia with a contemporary aesthetic. She employs a number of decorative techniques delicately placed together in her jewellery that tell of a quiet complexity or hide an intimate secret and often uses a client’s own heirloom jewellery as the basis for her designs.


Isabella Liu – Birmingham City University

Isabella Liu








Isabella describes herself as a ‘jewellery and object artist’ which is a very accurate portrayal of her work. As a fan of Kintsukuroi I was immediately attracted to Isabella’s pieces which appear to be a number of solid porcelain table-top sculptures with the signature gold veins of Kintsukuroi repair. After further investigation it emerges that the porcelain structures come apart and the metal element is not only removable, but also wearable. The haphazard ‘vein’ looking structures that become rings, brooches and even earrings are beautiful pieces in their own right. When you discover that they come with their porcelain ‘casing’ (which is incidentally also the mould for their casting) and can be easily reconstructed into stunning objet d’art when the jewellery is not being worn, the whole idea becomes ever more enticing.


Alex Tsai – Birmingham City University

Alex Tsai








Alex Tsai’s passion and fascination for bees has led him to create a range of incredible insect based rings. Unusually, the structure of the stunningly realistic bees’ bodies is created from engineered parts, with the extra surprise that the legs of the bees are articulated and actually move! Most metal artists when faced with the task of creating a small metal bee would reach for a block of wax, which makes Alex’s meticulous creations all the more interesting; it is as if the human, mechanicalized world is using its way of paying homage to the debt that we owe to the humble, natural bee for pollinating our food crops.

Daniella Webb – Sheffield Hallum

Daniella Webb








The weighty pieces that Daniella designs are solid and precisely engineered, which is contrary to the fragile elements that she integrates into their structures. Interactive rings and pendants that snap pieces of charcoal or wear away chalk; a neckpiece that crushes cinnamon bark and a ring that you can actually grate nutmeg on – these are quirky, conceptual pieces that would do well in an exhibition and are really, a great deal of fun.

Ruth Conway – Birmingham City University

Ruth Conway








Ruth has a fascination for geometry and repetition, features which are apparent in the decoration and structure of her work. Her pieces are entirely handmade. Ruth designs and prints her own fabric which is then laid beneath acetate and incorporated into her handmade wooden modules, which are in turn hand stitched together…phew! The result is a collection of highly wearable necklaces and brooches which are both stunning and substantial.


The images of work in this article, lovely though they are, really don't compare to seeing the work with your own eyes. If you’re planning to treat yourself with a visit to New Designers tomorrow (Saturday 28 June) be sure to tell us about your own highlights!

Winners of the Gold Memberships will be announced soon.

Jayne Coulson



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