Pippa Small talks personal taste: Part One

Self-taught jewellery designer Pippa Small specialises in Fairtrade gold and ethically sourced gems with a “river-tumbled”, imperfect aesthetic

Image: Brijesh Patel

My personal style signifier is an Indian shell bangle I wear on my right wrist. I haven’t taken it off since I was 24 and it’s become part of me. It is hugely sentimental and, as I’m quite shy, it makes me feel protected, as if I can hide away inside it. I also always wear lots of jangling bracelets. The wrist is the one part of the body where I feel liberated to express myself.

Road of Death, Bolivia
Road of Death, Bolivia | Image: Getty Images

The last thing I bought and loved was a smock shirt by Dosa from The Cross in Notting Hill. It is covered in botanical drawings. I admire the designer, Christina Kim; she does with textiles what I wish I could do with stones. The Cross, 141 Portland Rd, London W11 (020-7727 6760; www.thecrossshop.co.uk). www.dosainc.com.

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And the thing I’m eyeing next is a painting from the Lacy Gallery on Westbourne Grove. A bit like the galleries on the Left Bank in Paris, Lacy specialises in amazing antique frames, but also has a selection of abstract works by Russian and Siberian artists dating from the 1950s onwards. 203 Westbourne Grove, London W11 (020‑7229 6340; www.lacygallery.co.uk).

Small’s Ancient Greek Sandals Clio sandals, €120
Small’s Ancient Greek Sandals Clio sandals, €120 | Image: Brijesh Patel

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Bolivia. I was on the highest pass out of La Paz on my way to the Fairtrade gold mine that I work with high up in the Andes and I was taken aback by the beauty of the vast and elemental landscape; I could feel my soul soaring.

Gold Le Rond Pendant by Pablo Picasso.
Gold Le Rond Pendant by Pablo Picasso. | Image: Louisa Guinness Gallery

The last accessory I added to my wardrobe was a pair of Clio sandals in undyed leather by Ancient Greek Sandals, which I wear everywhere – from Kabul to Kenya, Panama to Jaipur. I can slip them off easily – very useful in Asia – and they go with everything. €120;www.ancient-greek-sandals.com.

Dancing Girls by Elena Gorokhova, £680, from the Lacy Gallery
Dancing Girls by Elena Gorokhova, £680, from the Lacy Gallery | Image: Jakki Abrey Media for the Lacy Gallery

The last meal that truly impressed me was a simple supper I shared with my craftsmen in Kabul. They ate mutton, but I’m vegetarian so I stuck to rice and vegetables. We sat on a Persian carpet on the floor and ate with our hands. Being hospitable is important to Afghans to and these people have become my friends. The meal gave us a great opportunity to talk about things outside work – families, our love lives – and to laugh and relax.

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The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Picasso. He was a genius. I have one of the jewels – a gold sun pendant – that he designed in the 1950s and 1960s. I bought it from the Louisa Guinness gallery and it’s one of my most prized possessions. 45 Conduit St, London W1 (020-7494 4664; www.louisaguinnessgallery.com).

The person I rely on for personal wellbeing is my wonderful osteopath Kristian, who I see regularly. I had serious back problems, and from a crumpled heap on the floor, he put me back together again. He is a kind and gentle healer; I leave feeling cured, cared for and questioning the patterns in my life. 221 Westbourne Park Rd, London W11 (020- 7243 0007; www.kjw-osteopathy.co.uk).

An indulgence I would never forego is shawls. I collect them wherever I go  and always have one with me. In Delhi, for example, I buy them from Kashmirloom or Cottage Industries. I wear them in different ways – over my shoulder, around my waist – and I find they act both as a security blanket and as a pick-me-up, adding colour to an outfit. Cottage Industries, Jawahar Vyapar Bhawan, Janpath, New Delhi (+9111-2332 0439; www.cottageemporium.in). Kashmirloom, C-65, Basement, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi (+9111-2431 8947).  

The site that inspires me is an area called Shakwati in Rajasthan, where I spend a lot of time working. Jaipur is so intense that I like to drive out of the city to visit a man who breeds Marwari horses. I ride through the desert and once I stopped at a village to join in a fertility ceremony, during which the priest put a coconut under my shirt.

My favourite websites are TheGuardian, for news, and Survival International, which is full of stunning images and fascinating stories, both tragic and triumphant, about indigenous, often forgotten peoples. It gives a voice to discriminated-against tribal people around the world. www.theguardian.com. www.survivalinternational.org.

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