March 30 2011
If you’ve never seen Ute Decker’s jewellery before, the names she gives the pieces provide a clue as to what it’s like. She calls her extraordinary, huge rings – one measures 9cm in diameter and resembles a firefly’s meandering flight path – “hand sculptures”, and larger-than-life bracelets – one is about 21cm x 16cm long and features trapezoid shapes – “arm sculptures”.
Their size suggests they’re destined for extroverts, but, being bespoke, they can be modified to suit anyone’s taste. And her silver, gold and platinum pieces are subtle for being matte. These swing between two extremes – fine, when fashioned out of metal filaments, or chunky. Her ethereal silver Curvature bracelet looks like a swirling ribbon (from £535), her silver Land’s End cuff resembles a large, luxuriant plant’s leaf (second picture, from £1,200).
“I meet clients to discuss designs, materials and pricing,” says Decker. “Then I show them ideas. Once they’ve made their choice, I hand-craft the pieces. The entire process, which may include a final fitting, usually takes a minimum of five weeks.” Her clientele is international: “Someone from China recently read about my work, and commissioned two gold pieces.”
Decker is also driven by a serious ethical and eco agenda: “It is essential to the ethos behind my jewellery that I only use the most ethically sourced materials available, which is, for gold, Fairtrade, for silver, recycled, for platinum, Fairtrade and, for resin, non-toxic bio-resin.” She is also one of the first jewellers to use Fairtrade and Fairmined gold (in her case, from the Oro Verde mining co-operative in Colombia). This new scheme ensures that gold is responsibly mined, with a reduction wherever possible in the toxic chemicals used to extract it and a guarantee that miners get a higher wage than normal. Called Pure, her gold collection includes what she calls her Architect’s ring (available for commission, from £1,100), cuff links (from £1,300) and arm cuff (first picture, from £8,500).
Decker hand-delivers the finished pieces to clients who live in or regularly visit London – for, she says, the most rewarding part of her work is “seeing their eyes light up when they open the box”.