Over the last several years, many jewelry consumers have seemed to agree on one thing: If it’s bold and gold, they’ve gotta have it, particularly with regard to rings. Engagement rings made with substantial metal settings (both modern and classic), takes on signet rings, and even just artfully textured bands—gold was and still is in major favor.
But recently, a heaping serving of silver is starting to get noticed—not quite overtaking, but possibly keeping up with, yellow gold. We’ve developed a taste for sculptural metal, often in large quantities. The Elsa Peretti Bone cuffs worn on both wrists at the 2022 Academy Awards by Venus Williams, for example, showcase silver’s ability to shine on red carpets right alongside diamonds.
Whichever metal a customer prefers, the aesthetic is the same: structural, geometric, carved. And Melanie Eddy, a contemporary jeweler based in London, has that style down brilliantly.
Below, we talk with Eddy on her inspiration, her work and recent experiences in the industry, and what comes next for the designer’s eponymous brand.
Sculptural metal in chunky, substantial sizes is really having a moment right now. How does it feel to see your jewelry trending?
It’s a great feeling that bold sculptural jewelry is getting all the love! I just love working with volume. My boldest signature pieces are silhouettes that I have been making for almost 15 years now and have had a loyal fan base throughout that time, but it is really lovely to see pieces like this having a wider appeal—maybe some of us were just ahead of the curve!
Describe your design process a bit. What sources do you look to for inspiration?
I’ll try to be succinct, as I can get carried away talking about my sources of inspiration. In short, much of my work is informed by our relationship to architecture—both how we inhabit architectural spaces, and how they transform our environments both urban and rural. My interest in architecture is also on quite a meta level, because architecture has two meanings essentially: It can be about the art and practice of designing and constructing buildings, but it also refers to the carefully designed structure of something. For me jewelry is intimate architecture—the design of structures for the body. In a way I am feeling more and more like a sculptor but designing sculpture for the body. More widely, my work also engages with senses of place, and, in particular, memories of experiences of places and interactions. It is not necessarily explicit in terms of its references, and when you work in an abstract way, I realize people may not immediately see the influences beyond aesthetics in your work.
In addition to the bold metal styles, you also work with gemstones. Do you favor one style over the other?
I absolutely cannot pick favorites among these two approaches—they truly complement each other. There is a purity working with the unadorned sculptural forms which I really enjoy, and this work has been a continual thread in my jewelry practice. But the challenge of sitting with a gem and working out the best way to create a jewel to showcase it is pretty exciting as a process. Working out those intricacies gives you as a designer something special as an experience.
You are so highly involved in the industry, design being just one part of the work you do. What do you love about being part of this creative community? Can you share a little bit about one of the most rewarding projects you’ve worked on so far?
It is such a great community to be a part of, I do feel very blessed to have found it (or maybe it found me, I feel like jewelry finds people not the other way around!). Choosing the most rewarding, that’s a hard one! Even though it’s some time ago now, I think it would have to be working on and curating GEM: Contemporary Jewellery and Gemstones from Afghanistan in 2013 in London with the British Council and Turquoise Mountain, which went on tour to Edinburgh in Scotland in 2014. This was a project that commissioned contemporary jewelry from emerging gem cutters, jewelry designers, and makers in Afghanistan—and a few other associated mediums like miniature painting, filmmaking, and furniture. It brought together designers and craftspeople from both the U.K. and Afghanistan in a celebratory exhibition showcasing how years of collaboration and projects had facilitated knowledge exchange around contemporary jewelry design and practice with individuals, benefiting and expanding their practices through the process.
You recently took part in Sotheby’s Brilliant & Black exhibition. Tell us about your experience, and the pieces you designed for it (those amethyst Bermudiana earrings, swoon!).
What a wild ride it has been! To be a part of this seminal exhibition and to be showcased alongside the work of those of both historic and contemporary relevance to me was overwhelming in the best of ways—I still pinch myself sometimes! The community that developed around the exhibition has been truly wonderful—many of us are still in touch regularly. Melanie Grant has been phenomenal: She selected and invited us to take part, but she very importantly continued to support us the whole way throughout the process. She facilitated these amazing connections among many of us, and it became a real network and support system among each other in the run-up to the opening, throughout the exhibition, and since last September.
The pieces I created for it evoked where I have come from and essentially where I am pushing with my work. A set of three sterling silver bangles incorporating two bangle designs that were first launched at my M.A. design degree show at Central Saint Martins, almost 15 years ago now, were joined by a newly designed and created bangle to form a trinity. The statement gem-set Bermudiana earrings and Palmetto ring pushed concepts I have become known for to new heights. All of the pieces submitted evoked my childhood island home of Bermuda in numerous ways but fundamentally showcased the results of my time honing my skills here in the U.K.
What’s next for Melanie Eddy? Any new collections or projects in the works?
So much going on! I’m working on a number of projects this year, and some things I have already delivered will be announced soon, so lots in the works, but sadly not much I can specify just now. I’m really excited with some of the developments happening stateside, which I’ll be announcing in the next few months! And yes, a new collection is part of that, and that will be launching in June!
Part of this year is playing catchup still—it’s been a crazy few years. The pandemic and recent events have been challenging, but it’s also focused the mind on what I really want to spend my time on, so I’ve been streamlining and attempting to free up more of my time to develop new work. I am itching to make some new, ambitious pieces—preparing for the Sotheby’s exhibition set the bar high, so I’ve made some personal commitments to myself to safeguard time to really be able to keep that going with new work. I also have lots of patient people who are waiting for their commissions, and I am so happy for the support I’ve been receiving and to have people seek me out for special pieces!
Top: Photo of designer Melanie Eddy by Ronan McKensie
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