January 2011 - Andrew Geoghegan



Timeless Royal Style

The Albert Brooch

In 1840, Queen Victoria married her beloved Albert. The engagement ring that he presented to her was a snake with an emerald-set head. The snake was a symbol of eternal love and emerald was her birthstone.

Victoria’s wedding dress was decorated with hand made lace and adorned with a sapphire and diamond brooch, presented to her by Albert, the day before their wedding.

via Lang Antiques.

Now correct me if I am wrong but the Prince Albert Brooch has a very similar styling to the recent Royal Engagement Ring. The choice of a serpentine engagement ring is a trend which has not lasted to this day but was subsequently fashionable in the 19th century.

Sapphires are associated with fidelity and a gift of sapphire suggests trust, honesty and loyalty which is why it is commonly used as a stone for engagement rings. I have heard it said that the blood that runs through the royals is blue so maybe the sapphire is also a symbol of their status and nobility.

Three Inspirations

When I started out my career in the jewellery industry in the late ’90s it was a very different creature to what it is today. The word ‘brand’ was not uttered that much and there seemed to be more of a focus on design and craft quality. In my opinion, a more pleasant and authentic era but one must change with the times mustn’t one?

So there I was with a full head of hair, and under that a sponge like substance which was absorbing every bit of jewellery information available. 23, passionate and hungry! They say that your formative years are the most influential with regards your developing personality. Maybe the same applies to your career in that the initial influences when you start out in your profession become inspirations which are evident throughout.  Three companies and designers are etched in my memory and their work still has a place in my rhodium plated heart:

Henrich and Densel

When I looked closely at the work of Henrich and Denzel, I could not really believe what I was seeing. As a mere jewellery designer fledging, I did not know that this level of quality and precision was possible – it was perfect! To match this precision was a stunning simplicity and balance which all added up to creating pieces that were bloody marvellous! The designs, even though simple, were innovative and not too out-there for my conservative British taste so all-in-all this company were a huge inspiration to me and engrained within me to always strive for better quality.

Paul Spurgeon

A name familiar with many in the jewellery industry and consumers alike is Paul Spurgeon. It seemed that every jewellery retailer I approached was stocking this man – he was everywhere! On more than one occasion potential retailers would tell me that they loved my collection but wouldn’t do business with me as they had just invested in Paul! And good reason. This man has created some iconic designs – he has an incredible skill of  keeping designs wearable and practical yet they posess a sculptural and timeless aspect – no mean feat as any jewellery designer will tell you. His focus on the setting of the gems is something which we both share and his approach to keep reinventing has no doubt spurred me on in my endeavours.


You may think that my famous three are a little German heavy when I mention my next inspiration but there is good reason.  I was working in Manchester when I first clasped eyes on the  Neissing’s Tension set ring. I was initially dubious of the strength of the setting but when I actually tried to physically twist a ring I understood that there were some strong German forces at work! As with Henrich and Densel the craft was flawless and the grace of the pieces was undeniable even if some of the pieces got a little heavy for the UK market. An interesting fact is that both Neissing and the late Stephen Kretchmer from the US claim to have invented the Tension Set idea. Kretchmer, who died in 2006, was a brilliant goldsmith and metalurgist even developing ‘levitating’ jewellery using a magnetised platinum alloy. As I have a fascination with innovating settings, the ingenuity of the tension ring was indeed a strong inspiration.

So there you have it – three very important jewellers that have helped me to carve my own path in the industry. There are no doubt many more but it is these that I would like to thank and ask that you keep doing what you are doing.

“Up-cycling” – the new Re-cycling!

Image kindly donated by www.feedthechildren.org.uk

Dower & Hall have unveiled a new “up-cycle” scheme to help transform old gemstone jewellery into affordable, new designs.

Having first designed their Twinkle stack rings twenty years ago, Dower & Hall’s new Sentiment rings have been created “to bring new life to old jewels”, by setting customer’s own diamonds or gemstones into the pre-designed stacking rings.

She added: “We saw a rise in brides coming into our stores with family diamonds that they wanted to use, or they had been proposed to with the grooms family ring, but they felt they needed to add their own style. Sentiment will be a great way to do this.”

via ProfessionalJeweller.com.

Congratulations Dower and Hall – great idea. There must be a huge amount of diamonds and stones which are lying around in unfashionable or damaged jewellery! This clever marketing idea by the Scottish based designers will no doubt do them proud.

A Right Royal Knees-Up!

The ring

Not since 1981, when that fabulous sapphire engagement ring surrounded by diamonds appeared the first time around, has the world been so excited about a royal wedding.  With William and Kate’s announcement of a spring time celebration accompanied by the fabulous news that we all get an official day off to enjoy it, royal wedding fever has enraptured the nation.

Gripped by news stories speculating over the fine details, Andrew Geoghegan Ltd, has been pondering over what would make the perfect royal wedding.  With the UK trying hard to crawl out of the depths of economic recession we doubt William and Kate will go for the pomp and circumstance that regaled the wedding of Charles and Diana back in the eighties.  But we still expect something more than a little bit special to cheer us all up.

We’ll spend time wondering what Kate’s dress will be like; where William will take his friends on the stag do and what jokes Harry will make at his older brother’s expense in the best man’s speech.  But speculate as we may, it’s hard to imagine how this contemporary royal pair will celebrate their union.

We doubt they’ll opt for one of those popular themed occasions which force guest to dress up like Vikings or other historical figures – it just wouldn’t go down well with the Queen and her friends the Heads of State.  We imagine they’ll avoid scenes of faux-fairytales with lots of pink taffeta like those adopted by Katy Price and Posh Spice in celebrity weddings splashed over the front cover of HELLO magazine.

We do imagine that there will be high glamour, exquisite tailoring and some incredibly impressive hats. Like a red carpet occasion, there will be designer outfits galore and plenty of famous faces to spot. And we can only assume that Kate’s huge sapphire will be complemented by something equally as fabulous as she takes the spotlight at as a future Queen of England.

As the crowds delight in watching a new era of royalty take their vows at Westminster, we know guests will be sipping the finest champagne dusted down from the special section of Prince Charles’ cellar and that the canapés served at the wedding breakfast will be much better than those from your average wedding caterer.

With less than an 100 days to go, we know we’ll join the millions of people who’ll gasp in admiration at Katy’s bridal wear on April 29th and feel a sense of national pride as William and Kate become Mr and Mrs King and Queen to be.  But as for the finer details we can only wonder with the rest of the world.  With cameras from all corners of the commonwealth rolling, we know for certain it will be a right royal knees-up!

There’s an interview with the happy couple over on youtube.

Spiritual Designs

After a good few years of enjoying alcohol, partying and all that goes hand in hand with these, I started to feel deeply unsatisfied.  I developed an underlying dislike of who or what I had become. Not entirely because of the relatively hedonistic life style I was leading, but of how much inane chatter was present in my head and how low my confidence was, even though I managed to project confidence externally. After finally admitting this to myself I decided that it was time to have a look at these aspects of my life. During this introspection it transpired that true confidence was something that I desired intensely. I was fed up with the fickle and superficial confidence that I had when drunk or when something in my life had gone the way I wanted it to. So what was the answer, if any?

At this point I was lucky enough to be introduced to meditation. My view, at the time, was that this was an esoteric practise and it appealed to me greatly. Armed with some books, advice and a soft cushion, I delved deeply and whole heartedly into this discipline. My understanding was that by meditating, many benefits could be experienced. The particular ones inspiring to me were: increasing confidence, reducing mental chatter, calming, and any mystical experiences that might come along too!

The initial effects of meditation were exactly as promised in the books. My inane chatter, usually highly critical was starting to lose his voice, friends started to comment on how calm I appeared to be, and I had a deeper understanding of my true nature which in turn increased my confidence. More importantly, I took introspection to heart which has helped to provide me with a growing inner strength for the last 10 years. Along the way Yoga played an incredibly significant part in my life which led me to India learning from the bendiest people I have ever come across! My meditation took me to South Africa and India also, taking part in 10 day silent retreats learning what is called Vipassana. This was the hardest thing I had ever done but I felt like I was taught something almost magical!

More recent events in my life have turned everything upside down again (in a positive way), but I’ll share the details of that with you another time. Coming down to earth a little, it is important to say how all this mumbo jumbo has helped me in my profession. As a jewellery designer creating fine jewellery for over 60 retailers in the UK and Eire, I am quite a busy chap. I am confident in saying that without my alternative interest, my mind would be far too busy to probably even enjoy my job. Even though I have a deep passion for my craft, I also have a healthy detachment from it where I appreciate that the emotions and feelings I experience from and in my business are not me, not permanent and not to be cherished or despised. One intriguing aspect is that when creating my designer engagement rings for example, even though they can take many hours of resolving, testing and adapting, the initial ideas come quite effortlessly. It appears to be less about hard, brow creasing thinking and more about introducing an initial idea and then being receptive. This receptivity allows a flow of ideas and to be honest I am not sure where it comes from…. but I like it!

I can’t believe it’s not butter!

Famous jewellery designer Gurhan ignored the prevailing belief that pure 24 karat gold was too soft, heavy and expensive for jewelry. He studied the craft of the ancient goldsmiths of the Anatolian and Byzantine empires who had been successful in their endeavors to make pure gold jewelry, then refined their methods to develop his now signature technique.

Today his designs are driven by the dictates of the pure metal; every piece must achieve strength, lightness and affordability, as well as beauty in its design. But the warmth and sensuality that is central to pure gold remains at the soul of his pieces and is the first thing that appeals to his devoted followers.

via GURHAN | The Jewelry.

All of the team at Andrew Geoghegan admire greatly what Gurhan has done and Angelina Joley appears to agree, pictured in a pair of Gurhan earrings. There seems to be a wealth of techniques available to us when we start to delve into ancient methods but also, it seems, in mixing with more recent technology.

2 years ago whilst in India, I was inspired to use pure gold but was naturally concerned with the hardness of the metal. Subsequent research has introduced me to the skill of Gurhan but of also the more recent possibility of micro alloys! This is where pure gold is combined with other metals such as titanium thus creating a harder gold. My research carries on and will take me to a lecture in late Jan 2011 by Martyn Pugh. This goldsmithing genius has created an item of table wear from this micro alloy – an incredible feat.

I have designer engagement rings and cocktail rings floating around in my mind just waiting for me to resolve the possibility of using this magnificent metal. I will bring you news as soon as there are developments!

Jeweller designer to the Celebrities

Dramatic jewelry lit up the red carpet at the 2011 Golden Globes  and the most successful looks were truly golden. After years of diamond-intensive bling, this year’s best jewelry styles showed texture and unusual gold work (in addition to diamonds, of course). The trend was best captured by the suites worn by Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez – all by Lorraine Schwartz.

via Modern Jewelry Trends » Globes Truly Golden.

Now I have to admit my ignorance here and say that I do not know who Lorraine Schwartz is.  Of late I have seen her name linked with a plethora of celebrities and it seems, after a quick bounce around on google, that she has her own celebrity status. I feel this will need a little more research on my part but feel free to send any information. This prolific designer is obviously doing something right and I am keen to learn a little more.  She seems incredibly adept at cocktail rings – which is an area that we at Andrew Geoghegan started to focus on in 2010. I am pleased to say that, although we are nowhere near the dizzy heights of Mrs Schwartz, our Cocktail Rings are being sought, bought and admired – mainly, I am reliably informed, because there is nothing else quite like them!

Business Link put out of business

The government has announced that enterprise advice and support service Business Link will close in November 2011, with its paid advisors replaced by thousands of volunteer mentors.

via ProfessionalJeweller.com.

It is not often that I get inpsired to write anything slightly political but why not start 2011 with something new! Business link have been pretty much instrumental in helping me develop my business including basic funding, expansion funding, mentoring, employment advice etc. It was always good to know that there was always help at hand when the decisions to be made were weighty or a few extra pound notes were available to help move my business to the next level. I can categorically say that without the help I received, the quality of our service and even our engagement rings for example, would not be at the highly refined and developed stage they are.

I sincerely hope that the change in the way Business Link is run continues to support business in the UK. The new title for Business Link is B.I.S. – Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. At first glances it seems geared towards those who are unemployed and wanting to start a business. A worthy cause indeed but many of the existing small businesses in the UK are the backbone of the our economy. I suppose time alone will tell re the effects of the change. Good luck UK business!