The jewellery – some placed in glass cabinets and others hanging from pins on canvas – almost seemed too beautiful and delicate to touch, but gallery owner Lesley Craze didn’t hesitate. She eagerly picked up several pieces including a ceramic bracelet, made to look like chain links, and slipped it on her wrist.
Craze went out of her way to make it clear that this was a gallery and not your typical jewellery shop.
“I try to have work that you really can’t see anywhere else,” she said. “I encourage people to keep creating interesting, new work. I think many places want to sell safe work, which is not what I’m about.”
This is clear not just from her gallery, but from Craze’s exhibition for London Jewellery Week (LJW) as well. The exhibition features 11 designers each with a unique look. Some of my favourites included designers Nora Fok and Maud Traon.
Fok’s avant-garde pieces, many of which hung on the walls, stood out more than some of the others confined to their glass cabinets. Her pieces, especially the neck ware have some interesting titles and concepts. For example, one piece called Bubble Bath is made of nylon crafted to look like a large assortment of bubbles surrounding the neck like a collar. Fok’s looks seem to match the exotic styles of pop singer Lady Gaga.
Also catching my eye, were designs by Traon. Her rings looked like they came from a mine in a fairytale land. The sparkling gems were extremely colourful. Although the costume jewellery-style pieces are clearly works of art, Traon’s designs have a fun, care-free feel to them as well.
When I asked Craze how she selected the close to 100 designers her gallery houses, she answered simply, “It’s based on what I like.”
And she definitely has interesting tastes. Craze tries to instill her love of these pieces in her customers. “We encourage our clients to be experimental as well,” Craze said. “We have sold one of our clients a concrete necklace, and another a white nylon snood that goes over your neck and comes over your head like a hood. That one sold for around £5,000.”
Though some people may consider the prices out their range, Craze isn’t phased. “We’re still here,” she said. “And we’ve been here more than 25 years now.”
And she certainly has taken advantage of those years. Craze has had exhibitions overseas in Chicago and Seattle, and many exhibitions by international artists. This is apparent from the variety of textures and arrangements in the pieces displayed.
Though the gallery has regular exhibitions, gallery assistant Kathryn Marchbank feels that it is important for them to participate in LJW.
“It’s created an umbrella for a focus on jewellery, which is a long time coming,” Marchbank said. “It’s about jewellery on a whole, as well, not just the advertisements. It focuses on the designers.”
Marchbank believes that the creation of jewellery is definitely an art form.
“It’s up there with painting, that same skill base, it’s on the same par,” she said. “The thought and narratives that go into these pieces are very similar to other artwork.”