Romantic gifts for women for Valentine’s Day… and beyond

From sculptures that evoke significant memories to love letters with a difference

Clients of I Love Spoon tend to share images, quotes or lines from songs for their intricately appliquéd and embroidered love letters
Clients of I Love Spoon tend to share images, quotes or lines from songs for their intricately appliquéd and embroidered love letters

A handcrafted love letter

When it comes to tokens of love, what we give is becoming ever more personal. A particularly fine example can be found in the intricately embroidered and appliquéd love letters created by Naomi Avsec, visual artist and creator of bespoke needlework label I Love Spoon. Clients tend to share images, quotes, lines from songs and moments that are personal to them, from which Avsec – who has worked with Liberty and Paul Smith – will make an initial sketch before working with thread. The pieces take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks to complete and cost from £175 to upwards of £1,000, depending on their complexity. Commissions come from around the globe and clients are a diverse mix – regulars include a theatrical agent who sends love letters to the directors, writers and actors she works with. Bigger, ornate works capture a moment in time in the same way that 18th- or 19th-century needlepoints did. Some clients have been known to pay thousands for larger letters. “I like to think these will become heirlooms for families to pass down to the next generation,” she says. ilovespoon.co.uk. CLARE COULSON

Sadie quartz, black rhodium and silver earrings with gold filigree carriage cover by Larkspur & Hawk, from $1,500
Sadie quartz, black rhodium and silver earrings with gold filigree carriage cover by Larkspur & Hawk, from $1,500
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Contemporary jewellery with old-school romance

It was the lost Georgian art of foiled jewellery that prompted Emily Satloff to found Larkspur & Hawk, a line of modern accessories rooted in historical tradition. The New York-based designer’s signature pieces – from rivière necklaces (from $1,800) to statement-making rings (from $850) – have a dedicated following that includes Sarah Jessica Parker and Oprah Winfrey. Satloff has now channelled her feminine-though-never-frilly aesthetic into a revival of a romantic but long-forgotten Victorian creation: carriage covers. This ingenious device for disguising one’s fine jewels from thieves when being transported by horse-drawn carriage (hence the name) took the form of simple, unadorned orbs, usually in matte gold, which clipped over the diamonds, rubies or pearls. Satloff's sleek and sculptural contemporary interpretations (from $1,550) can be created in a delightful array of bespoke options – from yellow- or rose-gold boules embellished with fine filigree to more minimalist polished silver spheres – for both earrings and necklaces. The designer is also happy to incorporate mementos from a client’s own jewellery box. larkspurandhawk.com. CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS

Meadow, displayed in a Peephole Box, by Katie Spragg, £4,600
Meadow, displayed in a Peephole Box, by Katie Spragg, £4,600
Amy Isles Freeman's hand-turned and handpainted vessels range from £145-£300
Amy Isles Freeman's hand-turned and handpainted vessels range from £145-£300

A favourite place, portrayed in porcelain

Imagine lying dreamily among wild flowers in a fragrant summer meadow as insects hum around in the afternoon sunshine. Such are the sensations rekindled by ceramicist Katie Spragg’s evocative depictions of the natural world, designed to “evoke feelings and memories we associate with special places.” Spragg, alumna of the Royal College of Art Masters, works in unglazed clay. Every blade of porcelain grass rising from a clump of “turf” in her series of the same name (from £400) is hand-modelled, and porcelain plants or grasses peek from cracks in the concrete bases of her Blooms series (from £420). The concept succeeds spectacularly in her Peephole Boxes, in which porcelain meadow grasses are displayed in oak boxes (£4,600) made by woodworker Geoffrey Hagger with moody internal lighting suggesting late evening or early morning. The artist also welcomes “place responsive” personal commissions (from £650) – a powerful way to relive a moment in a place redolent with memories. katiespragg.com. NICOLE SWENGLEY

The bespoke fragrance by Penhaligon’s will be presented in two handcrafted 200ml bottles
The bespoke fragrance by Penhaligon’s will be presented in two handcrafted 200ml bottles
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Joyful handpainted wooden vessels

Turn to woodwork artist Amy Isles Freeman for wonderful hand-turned and handpainted vessels that are both utilitarian and delightfully decorative, in a signature graphic, illustrative style that celebrates female sexuality, using motifs of flowers, birds and women with long, flowing hair. The bold, brightly varnished exteriors of her vessels contrast with their plain, smoothly oiled inner surface. Her work ranges from £145-£300 and the designer-maker relishes working to commission (from £150). Bespoke projects are often bowls but have included stools, a jewellery box and a hanging plate, to be used as a suspended fruit bowl. It’s fitting, says Freeman, that she is often asked to make bowls for lovers, as well as wedding gifts. “So much love is poured into my work, which explores themes of freedom and joy,” she explains. “Since art school I have been immersed in feminist art, but I want to elicit smiles and laughter.” amyislesfreeman.co.uk. CAMILLA APCAR

A personal “couture” fragrance

There are signature scents and bespoke fragrances, and then there’s this year’s new perfume experience by Penhaligon’s. The British perfume house has a long history of creating unique scents; in 1902, for example, it was commissioned by the 9th Duke of Marlborough to produce a fragrance to celebrate his family’s ancestral seat at Blenheim Palace. Today, the revival of its luxurious bespoke service – the “olfactory equivalent of couture” – is headed up by Alberto Morillas, one of the world’s leading master perfumers. The Seville-born nose leads clients on a 10-month journey to create their own unique scent, a process that costs from £35,000 and starts with an intimate consultation at Harrods’ Salon de Parfums. This is followed three months later with the presentation of up to three fragrances to help refine the commission. It then takes two rounds of amendments to decide upon the final perfume, which is presented to the client in two handcrafted 200ml bottles and a small travel atomiser, encased within a beautifully carved wooden box. The unique formula remains a secret and, of course, more can be ordered (at a cost of £3,000) when the unique elixir is exhausted. penhaligons.com. BEATRICE AIDIN

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