The jewellers turning their hand to home furnishings

Cutting-edge jewellers are applying their art to interiors, crafting bijouterie for the home that shares the DNA of their gems. Ming Liu reports

Beau Han Xu handmade crystal champagne and cocktail glasses, £250 each, swizzle stick, £150, and Drop! decanter, £900
Beau Han Xu handmade crystal champagne and cocktail glasses, £250 each, swizzle stick, £150, and Drop! decanter, £900

They are dazzlingly different art forms, but fine jewellery and home objets fulfil a similar purpose – one bringing a finishing touch to an outfit, the other decorative polish to an interior. Both express individual style, too, which is why venerable brands such as Asprey have long included treasures for the home within their troves. Asprey introduced accessories like cocktail shakers through its silver collections in the Roaring Twenties – and continues to respond to the spirit of the times, most recently with its whimsical Octopus Ink crystal barware (from £165) and Lion Head decanter (£2,900). Tiffany & Co references its famous blue gift box in contemporary Color Block tableware (from £45 for a dessert plate), and its timeless signature style in loop-handled cutlery (from £40) and sculptural Thumbprint home accessories (sterling-silver bowl, £190). Meanwhile, the Home Objects collection (from £175) by Cartier celebrates l’art de vivre with bowls, trays, boxes, candleholders and a clock (£32,100) adorned with art deco motifs. 

Dina Kamal brass and rubber doorstop, £790
Dina Kamal brass and rubber doorstop, £790

But it is the new breed of cutting-edge jewellers who are further blurring these boundaries as they conjure bijouterie for interiors that shares the design DNA of their gems. Salini works with contrasting and unexpected materials – his jewellery conceived as artworks that are made entirely by hand by Italian artisans. Salini’s new London atelier and base in Rome are glittering venues peppered with objets crafted from leather, rock crystal, shells and horn – recherché materials that have become synonymous with the designer’s singular aesthetic. Cue sugar bowls made from shells (£300) with a spoon in mother-of-pearl, and a silver tray (£8,200) sporting handles made from warthog teeth. Inevitably, it is the designs adorned with non-precious stones that draw the strongest comparisons with his jewels, from art deco-style mirrored trays (from £6,000) to coasters (£700 each) punctuated with chalcedony and onyx beads, and salt and pepper bowls (£900 each) made from grey agate, rock crystal or pink quartz. He loves the fact that these forays into other forms have brought another dimension to his work. His ostrich-egg candlesticks (£1,000), for example, topped and tailed with silver and onyx beads, are an exploration of the contrast between nature and refined craftsmanship. “I’m intrigued by the juxtaposition – something rough and alive that stands up to something beautiful and polished,” he says.

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For London-based Florentine jeweller Carolina Bucci, all design has storytelling at its heart. A collector with a particular passion for Murano glass, she has dedicated an entire wall of her boutique to her own glassware (from £140) – created in collaboration with the storied Venetian house Laguna B. Bucci wanted to work with the manufacturer becauses it shares her vision for preserving craft through schools and apprenticeship programmes (her family oversee such initiatives in their native city). The collection, in colourful swirls with hints of gold, recalls Florentine marbleised paper, and each handmade piece differs slightly from the next.

Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co sterling-silver and enamel Thumbprint bowl, £190
Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co sterling-silver and enamel Thumbprint bowl, £190

Bucci’s heritage is also explored through stones such as Carrara marble, grey Bardiglio marble, black- and gold-veined Portoro limestone and blue sodalite. Many hail from the mines of the Apuan Alps in Tuscany and are made into hefty spheres (from £90) that can be used as paperweights, doorstops and bookends, or into coasters (from £320), and can be engraved with bespoke text. The Alps border the seaside resort of Forte dei Marmi – a beloved childhood holiday destination that inspired Bucci’s Lucky jewellery collection based on friendship bracelets. But she is best known for jewellery with a traditional Florentine finish (a hammered-gold technique passed through generations of Italian artisans that gives dramatic sparkle), which she says can be applied to any object, from photo frames (from £1,400) to coasters (price on request) to furniture (price on request). 

 Lara Bohinc Murano-glass and bronze Venturi vases, £2,400 each
Lara Bohinc Murano-glass and bronze Venturi vases, £2,400 each

Slovenian-born jeweller-turned-furniture designer Lara Bohinc is of a similar mind and sees her transition as part of the creative process, the difference a mere matter of scale. Bohinc’s first foray into furniture in 2014 – producing the Solaris Kinetic table (£45,000) consisting of four colossal discs with shining inner dishes representing moons – was born from a collaboration with stone specialist Lapicida. She has since produced the Celeste chair (£2,859) and console (£13,998) and marble Stargazer candleholders (from £312), which in turn recall her planet-inspired jewels. Her work also echoes many of the dichotomies found in her gems – heavy versus light, angular versus fluid – and her Murano Venturi vases  (£2,400) take otherworldly forms of voluptuous coloured glass set within rigid metal frames glazed in bronze. The pieces are handmade in Venice and allude to the foundations upon which the city is built. Her playful, geometric Urushi boxes (£9,000) came to life following a residency in Wajima, Japan, which is famed for the centuries-old lacquer technique of urushi. Her first exploration of wood as a medium, they are made from katsura with a “building block” design that recalls the simplicity of Bauhaus. Equally architectural is the Fortress range (from £294) – exaggeratedly angular boxes and candlesticks in iron, ceramic or bronze that nod to the octagonal towers of Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia. 

Lara Bohinc brass and marble Solaris Kinetic table, £45,000
Lara Bohinc brass and marble Solaris Kinetic table, £45,000

It was only a matter of time before Lebanese jewellery designer Dina Kamal – a trained architect who refers to her jewellery as “miniature architecture” – turned her attention to the home. As the queen of the oft-overlooked pinky ring, it is fitting that her first piece is the equally overlooked doorstop. Kamal’s “champion defender”, as she calls it, is a brass sphere (£790) with rubber orbs that channels the rebellious vibe of her jewellery. Inspired by the “bouncy, random and chaotic black dots that pop into my head when I’m designing”, the piece is produced in finishes (copper, bronze and oxidised brass) with a similar edgy feel to those of her bracelets and pendants.

Cartier stainless-steel and mineral crystal Exceptional clock, £32,100
Cartier stainless-steel and mineral crystal Exceptional clock, £32,100

Chinese artist and jeweller Beau Han Xu spent almost a year with William & Son as artist in residence and has patented a special fluid of “floating diamonds and precious stones” that is injected into crystal to create jewels or glassware. His designs include the Splash! range, which captures the energy of exploding water droplets, and the Beau Cut Swarovski decanters (Drop! £900) with crystal stoppers filled with the sparkling liquid. “His work is utterly fantastical,” says William & Son director of homewares Lucy Asprey. 

Theo Fennell glass decanters, £650 each, and silver skull stoppers, £845 each
Theo Fennell glass decanters, £650 each, and silver skull stoppers, £845 each

Silverware and jewellery designer Theo Fennell sees the two crafts as opposite sides of the same coin. “They go together like comedy and tragedy,” he says. This is especially true of his Hero and Villain portrait rings, which have been reinterpreted as silver decanter tops (£995) bearing the likenesses of historical figures: Chairman Mao, Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein. “One person’s hero is someone else’s villain,” he adds. 

From top: Stephen Webster bronze and Damascus-steel Ram chef’s knife, £4,425, and Salmon fish-filleting knife, £3,500
From top: Stephen Webster bronze and Damascus-steel Ram chef’s knife, £4,425, and Salmon fish-filleting knife, £3,500

Fennell’s work embodies the wit of silverware created by makers from the 16th to 18th centuries who courted attention with ironic and playful designs. His English Breakfast set (£3,715) transforms everyday condiments such as Marmite, Colman’s Mustard and Heinz Tomato Ketchup into ornaments with silver holders and lids. Personalisation is also important in his work and his silver-skull decanter tops (£845) can be commissioned as gifts wearing different hats – a mortarboard for a graduate or a wig for a barrister. 

Asprey crystal Octopus Ink barware, from £165
Asprey crystal Octopus Ink barware, from £165

Jewellery maverick Stephen Webster’s pioneering spirit has led him down a similar creative path. What began as a commission for a one-off ceremonial sgian-dubh dagger has grown by word of mouth into a kitchen collection that launched last December at Design Miami. The range reflects the punk irreverence of the house. His Beasts chef knives (Ram, £4,425, and Salmon, £3,500) are six fantastical carved bronze handles set on Damascus-steel blades (which can also be made to order with custom blades and the handles replicated in sterling silver). There are also funky sea-urchin salt and pepper pots (£3,500) in blackened silver and yellow gold, as well as tequila tumblers (£220) and shot glasses (£90), handblown in England, etched with a silver cow’s skull motif and pairing stylishly with silver-rattlesnake-topped cocktail shakers (£6,100). He has complemented these with a bespoke tequila set (£22,840) in a Tanner Krolle leather case that holds four glasses and silver bar tools decorated with a design inspired by Mexican folklore.

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Webster is fired up by his new venture, not least because it feels so close to, well, home. “When I started out as a jeweller, what was important to me – attention to detail, quirkiness, a touch of rock ’n’ roll – has been reignited with this collection,” he says. “I haven’t had to step out of my comfort zone to step into the kitchen.”

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