This year’s Russian Revolution centenary has prompted many jewellery designers to look to the country for inspiration, but Annoushka Ducas has done so from more of a personal angle than most. Her sumptuous Touch Wood collection, which arrives in Annoushka stores on Monday September 4, channels Russia through her memories of her mother, a fiercely independent woman who, after emigrating to the UK, used to travel to Russia regularly – often with a young Annoushka in tow – to import quarter horses.
“I remember the extraordinary wooden churches, built with no nails, and the amazing skyline of golden spires in St Petersburg,” the designer says. “My mother also had a wooden ring that she used to touch for luck when she was worried, and I wanted to bring all these elements into the collection.”
Indeed, each item contains a little piece of smooth ebony; on a pair of drop earrings it is placed on the reverse of a sizeable diamond, while on the rings it is inlaid in the shank, so that it is kept in permanent contact with the owner’s finger. There are also onion domes (recalling St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow) on the earrings and charms, made sometimes in darkest ebony, sometimes in icy, translucent shades of aquamarine or carved prehnite.
A stunning gold ring (£9,800) has three ornate, movable onion domes with diamonds set in blackened gold, with white-gold twists, while a pair of drop earrings (£15,000) features inverted onion domes that dangle beneath a spire of textured, hand-engraved gold, with a tapering tip of diamonds. Other motifs include a diamond incarnation of the multi-armed Russian Orthodox cross, which appears as a charm (£1,900), along with ebony (£525), aquamarine (£2,500) and prehnite (£2,200) domes.
Two pieces - the Touch Wood diamond ring (£9,800) and diamond drop earrings (£15,000) - are highly limited, with just 24 of each being made, stocked at Annoushka’s two London stores.