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I’ve always known it, but it’s gratifying to see how jewellery is now appreciated, by men and women, as one of the most powerful expressions of individual style and identity. Jewellery is intensely personal and so often we have an intimate, even secret, relationship with our favourite jewels, their meanings, memories and messages.

Jewels change the way we feel or face the world, just as we change jewels with our moods, altering the stacking order on our curated wrists or ears to make them look different and very much our own.

It’s not surprising that today the search is on among jewellery devotees to find individual, independent jewellers, designers and creators with something new, fresh and relevant to say through their jewels. I’m on the same quest, as a jewellery historian looking for the most original designers who are pushing boundaries, challenging the status quo and keeping the millennia-long story of the jewel moving forward, directional and dynamic. I look for today’s jewels that mark their moment in time and will carry that moment with them into generations to come. By using my historical perspective, in a way I’m trying to second-guess the antique jewellery of the future. That’s why I’ve created Vivarium, an authoritative resource for jewellery collectors and connoisseurs. I’m working with designer jewellers, artist jewellers and goldsmiths around the world. Some are new, others established, others still private, but all are under the radar and have a strong, well-defined, well-informed and impassioned creative vision. I look for originality, so nothing derivative that looks like the work of anyone else, neither self-conscious nor trying-too-hard newness for its own sake, and I look too for sophistication of craftsmanship, for innovation in material and technique. I crave modernity and strength of form, with a balance and harmony of line, colour and texture – jewels that express a vision of a changing world. But I also tend to love jewels that somehow resonate with an echo of the past, a subtle hint of reverence for history that allows them to glimpse the future. These are often the jewels that unconsciously strike a chord with collectors, mixing the warmth and reassurance of familiarity with the thrill and shock of the unexpected and never-seen-before.

I believe that for today’s collectors, as for me, it’s about discovery; the sense of searching out and finding an individual jeweller whose concept and values suit your own, and having the opportunity to work with the designer, to understand and talk about their vision and ideas in a process of creative complicity and connectivity. Just as I wish I could have sat down with René Lalique or Jeanne Toussaint, with Suzanne Belperron or Jean Schlumberger. Just as I was lucky enough to spend time with the late Elsa Peretti, my design heroine.

I believe, too, that the very best of contemporary jewels are the most fascinating of 21st-century collectibles. They’re wearable, intimate objects of artistry, design excellence and craft ingenuity. Here are some of our Vivarium designers.

Ring in tapered and twisted oxidised steel with 3.01k light yellow organic-cut diamond by Leen Heyne


This extraordinary Dutch goldsmith explains his unique method of twisting and bending gold around diamonds as unlocking the natural forces embedded in the precious materials that are his guiding inspiration. Graduating from an academy for gold and silversmiths in Schoonhoven, Leen Heyne works alone in his studio in Tilburg, north of Eindhoven. Using a mix of strength, skill and instinct, he handcrafts rings that are minimal and sensual, serene and dynamic. Each one is entirely individual, each conjured around an exceptional diamond, hand-selected by Heyne himself, not for value or perfection but for character and charisma, light, cut, shape and form. The complex twists, loops and curls seem to embody the earth’s electro-magnetic energy, inherent in precious metals and gems, and are subtly suggestive of organic forms and the unstoppable growth of nature. He starts with a single strip of metal, pre-sanded, which he hand-models, shapes, twists, bends and loops, allowing the metal to dictate its design and using manual dexterity to turn force and strength into silky fluidity. Once shaped, the ring is left untouched, retaining the metal’s integrity, authenticity and earthiness. Diamonds are introduced as the metal is shaped, never afterwards, and are never set with claws or prongs but instead held in place, as if by magic or, as he describes it, caught in a metallurgic dance of tension. His technique is a secret. Recently, Heyne, 37, began experimenting with steel. He’s drawn to the oxidised darkness of the metal, as it allows him to taper the metal thread which, he says, results in an animal-like effect.


London-based but born and raised in Geneva, Jefford, 54, trained as a fine artist at Central Saint Martin’s, where she focused on etching and drawing. After pursuing a career as an artist and illustrator, she turned to jewellery in 2002, studying design at the Gemological Institute of America and the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. A committed modernist inspired by the Bauhaus movement and post-war American Abstract Expressionist painters, she brings her art background to graphic, abstract, cerebral jewels that are pure compositions of line, shape and form in which her etched ‘illustrator’ lines take an important, if subtle, role. She likes to play with texture and colour, contrasts of sheen and matt, transparency and opacity, as in her collection Absence and Presence of Colour, which sets vivid stones such as mandarin garnet and green tourmaline next to carved, matt-black, onyx, geometric shapes. She delves deep into concepts ranging from machine-age abstraction through typography and molecular structures to duality. For her Duality – Paradox collection, Jefford explored the idea of harmony, consisting of two opposing elements merging into one. She combined movement and stillness through the use of matt-black jade for stillness juxtaposed with the liveliness of a vibrant paraíba tourmaline. To all these ideas she adds emotional resonance, instinctively understanding the emotion that is the raison d’etre of a jewel as in her capsule collection, Susan’s Five, a set of five restrained gold jewels created in homage to her mother, who had recently passed and had been such an inspiration and supporter of her talents.

Gold ring with rubellite and custom-carved chalcedon by Ming Lampson


Something of a jealously guarded secret known only to a small coterie of devoted clients, Ming Lampson is a private jeweller who works from a small appointment-only salon in Notting Hill, with her workshops in the basement. For some 20 years, Lampson, 48, worked solely to commission on bespoke orders and launched her first collection in 2009, which came from her own imagination and was shaped by her childhood. Born in Hong Kong, she settled in London and has been in love with gems and minerals from a young age, training as a goldsmith in Jaipur, India, where she also learnt about gemstones. Back in London, she took a jewellery-making course and studied diamond grading, followed by courses in coloured stones and pearls, before setting up on her own as a jeweller. Since her first collection, Lampson has created three more: Reverence for Nature, in which she channelled an imaginary garden; Secrets, which explored the idea of enticing treasures hidden in chests or behind curtains; and most recently, Origins, re-imagining the earliest, primal forms of human adornment. Gemstones are always the starting point for Lampson, who scours the globe for intriguing coloured stones that she often has specially custom-cut to bring her ideas to life, including her signature stained-glass hoop earrings. Colour is a vital component of her imaginative designs, along with a well-honed instinct for the relationship between jewel and wearer and a dedication to traditional meticulous crafting.

Solitaire Ring in white gold with pavé-set with Old European Cuts and a modified pear-cut brown diamond by Aline Debusigne


In 2018, when Basel-based Aline Debusigne, 45, made the decision to create her own jewellery collection and start a new business, she drew on her academic training in ancient history and philology and her practical experience of working for a leading dealer of antiquities. She was driven by a long-term passion for history, in particular her fascination with collections of ancient and antique jewels and their craftsmanship. Yet Debusigne’s jewels are strikingly contemporary, architectural in structure, ingeniously conceived and exquisitely handcrafted in Geneva and Paris using traditional techniques. She describes her signature style as modernity and reminiscence, referring to her instinctive infusion of elements of antiquity into contemporary design and her equally instinctive understanding of classical harmony, balance and proportion. She explains that, like me, she enjoys the idea of a spark of recognition that comes from the association of modernity and antiquity, and believes a design becomes universal when it crosses barriers of time and culture. A deep bib necklace, for example, constructed in painstakingly plotted geometric segments and linked like chain mail for supreme flexibility, evokes the ceremonial collars of Ancient Egypt. The white gold, left natural and without rhodium plating in a soft, greyish hue, is scattered with diamonds seemingly at random in near-invisible settings to generate a shimmering play of light. She loves jewels that move with the body, like a second skin, balancing ornamentation with wearability. Debusigne works with old-cut diamonds in a variety of shapes, which she hand-selects herself and sets in unexpected positions and angles on single stone rings, subverting the concept of the solitaire and blending the classical with the contemporary.

Emerald Motif ring in 18k yellow gold with cabochon emerald and discarded mobile phone circuit board by Oushaba


Oushaba was launched in 2023 by three friends, art lovers and collectors in London, whose brand concept was generated by today’s burning issue of sustainability and circularity. Their idea was to breathe new life into forgotten industrial materials to create wearable art showcasing artisanal craft skills and techniques and challenge our preconceptions of preciousness. Their debut collection, Connection Salvaged, explores the connectivity of today’s technology and its relationship with the precious resources that are vital components, yet discarded as part of a built-in obsolescence. Oushaba jewels are composed of fragments of electronic waste – mobile phone circuit boards, charging cables, USB sticks and plugs – set in recycled 22-carat gold and 18-carat white gold and silver, accented with sustainably sourced diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. The jewels, including rings, earrings and long sautoir necklaces and pendants are all one of a kind, made to order as limited editions. They’re handcrafted by goldsmiths in Sicily using techniques such as lost-wax casting that have been handed down and refined through generations. The electronic parts, many in vibrant emerald-green, are set in rich, burnished, hand-hammered goldwork, showing the hand of the artisan. The jewels have the look of found treasure, objets trouvés. They’re wondrous unearthed antiquities, futuristic fragments of the past. The name Oushaba comes from the Arabic word for alloy, suggesting a cultural melting pot of ideas and influences. In this case they reference the fusion of past, present and future, advanced high technology and age-old handcrafting. Every jewel is packaged in a bespoke box crafted from sustainable or reclaimed timber, lined with recycled fabric and cork, and made in collaboration with London furniture maker Jan Hendzel Studio.

Taken from 10 Magazine Issue 72 UK – DARE TO DREAM – out now!