There’s no place like home, and when sourcing something dazzling, this rings truer than ever. Shining a light on both heritage craft and contemporary innovation is an emerging crop of female jewellery designers in London disrupting the global scene with delectable colour and precious stones.
Here, we spotlight the names to know, from the newly established to those long coveted by A-listers and connoisseurs alike. Whether you’re lusting after traditional bling or chunky styles with an edge, read on for London’s best independent female jewellery brands and designers to invest in now.
How would one describe the signature design style of Cece Fein Hughes? “A luxury tattoo on 18K gold,” declares the art historian turned goldsmith, who founded the wonderfully whimsical label Cece Jewellery in 2021. Hughes, who studied history of art at Exeter University, translates her penchant for lore and symbolism into exquisite, enamel-painted pieces dotted with fairy-tale motifs and twinkly diamonds.
One example, she points out, is her sweet bubblegum pink enamel heart and arrow design, “complete with an engraved banner reminiscent of traditional sailor tattoos,” says Hughes. Other styles include rounded belcher chains strung with delicate diamond charms to frosted hoops adorned with intricate engravings and climbing floral patterns.
Chelsea-based goldsmith Jessie Thomas brings an unfussy charm to traditional silhouettes with pieces as versatile as they are unique. Thomas, who shares a workshop with her father, David Thomas, a celebrated master goldsmith, hones in on baroque pearls, dainty diamonds and ethical, coloured stones to infuse each design with movement and a shapely appeal.
"I like my pieces to feel contemporary and a bit unusual, but not in a way that will date them," says Thomas, whose signature designs include Wave rings studded with floating diamonds and textured chains that suspend the mightiest of pearl pendants. "I am drawn more towards weighty, sculptural shapes with unusual stones, set slightly off-centre," she adds. "I don't like anything that feels at all messy, so my pieces must be well made and thought through, so I know they will work design-wise but also be wearable."
"I strive to create lovingly handcrafted designs which are charmingly individual," says independent jeweller Loveness Lee. "This creates a feeling of exclusivity to those who wear our jewellery, no matter if they choose a statement or everyday piece." Lee, who founded her eponymous jewellery label in 2016, channels the beautifully complex shapes of nature for abstract bling handcrafted in recycled metals and lab-grown stones.
"By collaborating with nature as a designer, I push the boundaries of traditional jewellery-making techniques to achieve unique and modern pieces which, although consistently recognisable, cannot be predetermined," says Lee, whose cult designs count Ellie Goulding, Rina Sawayama, Lucy Hale and Munroe Bergdorf as fans. "These elements create the serendipitous wearable sculptures that you see within our collections today."
Dower & Hall
Sustainable jewellery designer Diane Hall's work is distinctive in its bold and bright aesthetic. Hall, who established her eponymous jewellery brand, Dower & Hall, with her husband, Dan Dower, in 1990, is a creative force in the British jewellery scene, offering precious, handcrafted heirlooms at a refreshingly affordable price point. "Sculptural, timeless classics that are non-seasonal and endlessly wearable," says Hall, of her signature design style. "I create meaningful pieces that will last a lifetime and beyond."
For such treasures, the husband-and-wife duo reference art, travel and the natural world to play with proportions and create statement adornments. "It's all very natural and organic in form, but with that little extra something to ensure it's treasured forever," says Hall. Choose from hammered gold cuffs, earrings and sculptural rings studded with ethically-sourced gemstones to add zing to your jewellery box.
The high-octane creations of Minka Jewels are a serious jewellery connoisseur's dream. Founded in 2016 by British gemologist Lucy Crowther, the London-based brand specialises in exceptional gemstones, carefully handpicked in a rainbow of hues. "The gemstones, for me, are such a big part of the design and often the starting point of the jewellery," Crowther explains.
Constantly inspired by her travels, Crowther translates the many flora and fauna she encounters into bold, architectural shapes spun in 18K gold. "Every gemstone is handpicked for its beauty and quality," she notes. "Having worked as a stone trader, I am very picky about the stones we use." On the importance of female role models, Crowther expresses great admiration for her fellow peers. "There are so many incredible females doing so many great things in the jewellery industry right now," she says. "This is so wonderful to see and so important as it helps educate and inspire."
For fun, fabulous creations to elevate any ensemble, Roxanne First should be your go-to brand. Its namesake founder launched the label in 2018 with vibrant, mood-boosting pieces for everyday wear that have fast become the most instantly recognisable jewels in town.
Today, the brand's designs centre around "diamonds, coloured sapphires, semi-precious stones and a variety of gold," says First, who was catapulted into the spotlight after the Duchess of Sussex added the designer's now-iconic gold Snake hoop earrings to her personal treasure trove. Those looking to join Markle by embracing their inner magpie should delve into First's offering of playful keepsakes, spanning beaded strands with personalised initials to rings, bracelets and earrings, each with their own firework display of colours.
After cutting her teeth at Sotheby's, New Zealand-born Mayfair-based diamond darling Jessica McCormack started her namesake jewellery brand in 2008. McCormack's fascination with cultures, both past and present, permeates her designs, from ancient Maori carvings recreated in gold for her Tattoo collection to the Japanese fairy tales that inform her bridal offering of love-forever pieces.
A grand 19th-century townhouse at 7 Carlos Place is what the McCormack brand calls home. Featured within: not only her most beloved jewellery collections (which include Jewels of the Urban Night, Messenger of the Gods, and Perfect Storm) but art, antiques and the workshop where a handful of makers build her creations.
"My collections are a visual representation of my feelings, emotions and experiences," says award-winning Beirut-born jeweller Nada Ghazal. "They are a window to my soul and a representation of my story, which in essence is a universal story of human emotion." 21 years after founding her eponymous jewellery label, Ghazal moved with her family to the English capital, marking a new beginning for the Lebanese designer.
Beloved for her delicately gem-set pieces in brushed gold, Ghazal continues to pioneer with timeless, design-forward creations that pay homage to her most treasured memories and stories. "My pieces are bold in form, yet still organic and feminine," she says. "They are both timeless and definitely ageless - a bit like how I aspire to be. I love using coloured sapphires and tsavorite," she concludes. "But my selection of colour always depends on my story."