One of the recurring threads in Annoushka Ducas’s very inventive career has been to reference her Russian ancestry in jewellery form. This goes back to the days of her first highly successful business, Links of London – I still have a frosted rock-crystal onion-dome pendant on a silver box chain from those days, when she also worked copies of Russian coins and Orthodox crosses as bracelet charms. Now with her own-name business she makes even more individual pieces, including beautiful pendants inspired by amulets handed down by her Russian grandfather, imbued with symbolism, as part of her Mythology series.
The current exhibition in her Chelsea store celebrates her quarter century in jewellery design and the many items on show demonstrate how her personal history often sparks new ideas, along with her other interests such as art, nature and the environment. She describes the newest, very unusual amulet – a beautifully worked diamond-set turtle locket – as “a modern keepsake”, but it is also an interesting symbolic mix. “The turtle is an ancient symbol of longevity and perseverance, so it seemed appropriate to celebrate 25 years of work,” she says. “As a child I also had a pet turtle that I was very fond of and it’s nice to commemorate him.”
The large amulet (£19,500, first picture) is created with her brand’s customary craft, the hand-carved 18ct gold shell set with white, brown and black rose-cut and brilliant diamonds, while the underside and the feet are also carved to mimic the animal’s features. A hinge unlocks (second picture) to reveal a highly polished gold interior, while in a playful, tactile twist, the legs, head and tail, all set with white brilliants, are articulated to wiggle if touched. The bale loop to hang it from a chain is also diamond set. Only 24 large turtles are being made, and the first four arrive at Annoushka’s London stores this week. A small version without the locket (£3,800, second picture) will be more widely available, including online. Rather more elegant turtles than the Ninja version.