EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with British Jewellery Designer Imogen Belfield

HAVING recently collaborated with Made, a charity which involves Kenyan workers in jewellery making, award-winning jewellery designer, Imogen Belfield, is the bright-minded, charitable, successful woman behind the designs sported by Nicole Scherzinger, Jessie J and Bip Ling.

Imogen Belfield has been featured in Attire, Geist, and Company magazine.
She was also invited to feature – and share her views and opinions – on Channel 4’s Secret Shoppers earlier this year.

How did she know she’d made it? Georgia May Jagger wearing two of her rings on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar last year.

Pillow Magazine spoke with her about jewellery design in Britain, her designs and what type of woman she imagines to wear her jewellery…

When, and how, did you first know that you wanted to design jewellery for a living?

It began with some short silversmith courses in the arty village I grew up in Sussex. This really sparked my interest in metal work and ways with which I could adapt shape and form to adorn the body.

I always knew I wanted to be involved in something creative. My roots lie in fine art and sculpture- derivative of my schooling and art foundation course at Falmouth College of the arts. I suppose you could say my pieces are like miniature sculptures for the body given their raw and organic shapes and structures.

Tell us about the first few months of creating your own brand.

As a new business working as a sole trader, it is always a challenge to be able to manage the work load in all the varying strands that enable a business to operate successfully; whether it’s fulfilling orders, admin work, or marketing and promotion. One of the first decisions I made when starting my business, was to invest in PR and marketing and set up in my own studio.

What is the inspiration behind each of the collections?

The ‘Warrior’ Collection from Spring/Summer ‘13 is inspired by superheroes. This is a development of my AW12 ‘Gladiator’ collection, which was inspired by the Ancient Greek and Roman idea of the Olympics and Champions, with each piece in the collection named after Greek mythological characters from the Odyssey and Iliad.

As well as the Phantom Palladium knuckleduster, pieces in my latest collection also include the Vagabond Glove, the Eagle and Hawk triple finger rings, the Zatanna Slave bracelet, Titan and Callisto necklaces, the Tempest double ring, and the Scorpia and Spectre bangles.

The pieces are created to look like medals, using a Helix style repetition of form. This repetition connects with the core inspiration of my collections which are rooted in minerals and natural stones taking the concept of natural minerals into a scientific form.

What makes your jewellery unique?

I make everything by hand at my studio in central London and all my materials are sourced locally from Hatton Garden and the Natural History Museum.

I like to work directly into 3d form: whether through paper manipulation, hand carvings or model making. I then draw and experiment with line – with pen to paper. It’s an organic and experimental process in itself.

What is your favourite piece to design? Why?

The Palladium Callisto Earrings for my SS13 Shooting Stars collection. Working in Palladium is always an exciting challenge, and due to its lightness as well as strength, there is scope to be daring with designs.

Which is your favourite piece to wear?

The Vagabond Golden Glove.

Which is your best selling piece?

The Ferero knuckle ring.

Do you believe that British jewellery designing is unique, individual and at another level in comparison with the rest of the world?

Yes we’re certainly brimming with talented designers in this country, and I believe it has a lot to do with the high class art and design colleges in Britain.

Your jewellery has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar as well as British and French Vogue. In your opinion, what makes your jewellery Vogue-worthy?

It aims to be daring, challenging, yet commercial and attainable.

What has been the pinnacle moment during your career?

2012 opened up so many new opportunities and the business is growing at a rapid rate. We’ve had some fantastic press with Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, as well as an increasing celebrity following for our jewellery. Winning KickStart at IJL has been the perfect progression for my business, having been awarded the Bright Yong Gem award last year by Hilary Alexander. Most recently I have been awarded by the British Fashion Council, Rock Vault for the last 2 seasons during London Fashion Week; sponsored by the International Palladium Board and curated by Stephen Webster.

You were on Channel 4′s programme Secret Shoppers. How did it feel knowing that your top advice was being broadcasted throughout Britain?

Surreal but amazing. It was great fun to be involved with this.

What kind of woman do you imagine wearing your jewellery?

Well my style icon is Grace Jones! Men and women who love to deviate from convention and relish in a bit of glamour.

Where do you see yourself and your brand in ten years time?

A flagship store in the UK, with stockists covering the globe.

Finally, if you could be anything else, what would it be?

I’d love to work with an Architect. Architecture and sculpture are two of my big passions and influences on my jewellery designs.

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