October 17 2009
A few months ago I sat on the judging panel at an X Factor-style design event held by Liberty of London. Designers from all over the country were invited to come in and showcase their wares. No previous experience or established pedigree were necessary. They just had to present something they had designed themselves and that they could imagine selling in this prestigious store. The turnout was phenomenal, snaking down four flights of stairs and twice around the entire store. The talent, however, was often far less so.
But among the very best who presented themselves was a Brazilian guy named Roberto Costa, who makes beautiful jewellery pieced together from antique and vintage finds. His brand name is Maria Zureta and his work is complex, unique, beautiful, handmade and amazingly well priced. My advice to him was to triple his prices immediately. Even though he is working 14 hours a day and makes every single piece himself, he still chose to ignore me.
Most of his pieces were too large to make commercial sense in the moderately sized cabinets of Liberty’s jewellery department, but you can find him at The Sunday Up Market in the Old Truman Brewery in east London, where he runs his own stall. Expect to find huge elaborate necklaces for women, made from old mismatched chains, antique watches, crystal belt buckles and Edwardian silver salt spoons. There are simpler options for men, made from hemp string and vintage silver- and gold-tone chains. If you are looking for original one-off designs, you will find no better value in London. Catch him now before he decides to act on my advice.