Liverpool jewels in V&A show

A glamorous ring is representing the north west in an exhibition celebrating iconic 21st century jewellery in London. Amanda Griffiths meets the talent behind the designs

When Rebecca Hawkins, head designer at Boodles Jewellers in Liverpool, joined the company 20 years ago she could never have imagined that she would be creating a little history.

 But that is what she’s done, as one of the most popular pieces she has ever created has gone on show in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The ring, part of her ‘Raindance’ collection sparkles with diamonds like raindrops glisten in sunlight. It is arguably one of the most popular Boodles has ever created - everybody who is anybody wants a Raindance ring. But with a price tag of �7,500 they retain a degree of exclusivity. It’s something to be cherished.

‘People buy jewellery like this for emotional reasons,’ says Rebecca at Boodles headquarters, in Liverpool city centre. ‘A lot of people will come and buy a piece for a birthday or anniversary and then come back a few years later wanting something to match for another special occasion.

‘I think it’s important when you buy a high-end piece like this that you can find something to match years later. One of the things I really strive to achieve is to make something that looks fresh and of the moment now, but still looks fresh and timeless years later.

‘I can’t believe its ten years since I designed the Raindance collection. I never thought the ring would be in the V&A. It’s fantastic! It was chosen as part of an exhibition to celebrate iconic jewellery in the 21st century.

‘I was surprised by the feelings I had when I saw it, but you do feel a connection to the piece you’ve designed.’

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Rebecca and her Lancashire design team have added to the iconic collection this year with a number of one-off and limited edition pieces.

‘The bracelet featuring star sapphires, aquamarines and mint tourmalines sold almost straight away,’ says Rebecca. ‘It was inspired by that meandering water flowing along, it’s very calm.

‘The 2010 Raindance collection explores water in a different way. Its that splash that hits the ground. Some pieces are inspired by the way droplets collect on a plant after it rains, there’s another bracelet that is inspired by the dynamic rush as the water swirls in fast flowing water.

‘Each collection will have at least one ring, sometimes two or three, earrings, pendants and a bracelet. The pieces normally start from around �1,500, the most expensive we have ever made was a ring for �700,000 and an emerald one-off necklace we’re currently making for the new store at The Savoy in London which is �450,000.’

When Boodles latest boutique at The Savoy opens this month it will be their ninth store; there’s three in the north west; Liverpool, Chester and Manchester, one in Dublin and the rest in London.

‘Each of the stores think they are the flagship store,’ laughs Rebecca, ‘but Liverpool is still head office and where it all happens, design-wise anyway!’

Boodles was founded in 1798 in Liverpool and soon became the city’s leading jewellers. It’s been in the Wainwright family for six generations and moved to its Georgian home in Lord Street in 1926.

‘I joined the company because they were looking at developing their own range, to create and make in house; they were looking for someone to set up a design department,’ she says.

And it seems that classic saying that diamonds are a girl’s best friend is true. ‘You can create almost anything in diamonds, they are the perfect look,’ says Rebecca. ‘But I like to mix them with something else, like black opals, for drama.

‘I particularly like greens and blues, but pinks also suit the English complexion,’ she says.

‘Most of our diamonds come from Antwerp or New York; there’s a team of specialist stone cutters in Germany who we use a lot.’

Of course as well as the collections, Boodles are also well known for creating one-off pieces - celebrities, footballers and businessmen have all approached the company to make special pieces, although Rebecca remains the soul of discretion and refuses to name names.

‘Jewellery is probably 98 per cent of the commissions we get, but we have done football trophies, Grand National trophies and cups for the Chelsea Flower Show in the past,’ she says.

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