Little Works of Art #1 – The Strawberry Heart Necklace
To inject a little sparkle into these strange times, we’re running a series on some of Stephen Einhorn’s most unusual and exclusive designs. We’ll be talking to Stephen about the inspiration behind them and how he goes about making these Little Works Of Art. No 1 in our series is the ever so shiny Strawberry Heart Necklace with its dazzling 136 brilliant cut rubies.
Where do you start when you’re designing something like this?
Sometimes when I’m designing something I have a very strong idea of where I’m going. I’ve got an idea in my head, and I’ll go forward and do that. The other thing I always do is just start sketching. I’ll do a million variations and gradually one of them will reveal itself and I’ll develop it. This design was like that. I knew I wanted to make something big, something really showy, something using pavé (lots of small gemstones across the surface of the piece). I’m always experimenting, trying out new techniques and then seeing how I can employ those in a special piece of jewellery. So I started playing around with shapes and sizes of a heart. There are so many little decisions to make. If you start with a wider shape at the top for instance the whole perspective of the shape is instantly mapped out. That’s what makes it feel really alive.
Why a heart?
Well. it’s a very obvious symbol, but I wanted to make it my own. There’s that meeting of the classic and the contemporary that’s in a lot of my work. It’s all the little details. The bale (the loop that attaches the heart to the chain) is really smooth and clean and sleek – that feels very modern. And the details of the chain – there’s nothing flowery about it. It’s quite a solid chain that the pendant will run really nicely on. And there’s the back which has that cut out pattern with those radiating circles to give it a kind of energy. I wanted the back to be as beautiful as the front, to have a slight filigree feel to it.
How do you get it so sparkly?
I used some really sparkly stones! But it’s more complicated than that. They are all matched. So we had to choose from hundreds of stones to get the right colour match across all of them. And it’s got this curved surface so each of those little facets has to match up with the curve, to give it that smooth shape and a really consistent sparkle. I love things that are hard to make!
Why did you choose rubies?
The colour of course, which is so deep and rich. And they’re also really hard. They’re 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness (diamonds are 10). If I’d made it out of emeralds it would have looked fantastic but it wouldn’t have had the longevity. Rubies do – they’re really tough. I love to work with materials that have a toughness to them. Its the same with white gold – it’s 18 carat, and that’s as tough as anything. I love the pure colour of it, and it really shows off the rubies. But it’s also one of the toughest things you can work with. It’s got palladium in it, which gives it its colour but also the hardness.
That toughness, even where the design looks very delicate, that’s really important to you…
Absolutely. I want to make something that feels like it will last even longer than you will. That way it’s something you can really treasure. If you were going to buy this necklace you’d pass it on, it’d become an heirloom. I love to think about my customers’ descendants owning and wearing it, with all the special feelings that engenders.
I’ve always loved the idea that one day my stuff would eventually end up on the Antiques Roadshow, and it would be a ‘genuine’ stephen Einhorn design, the presenter would be really pleased to find our recognisable hallmark on it, and they would talk about the history of our workshop, and absolutely guarantee that its a genuine handmade piece from us. There’s this sense of jewellery as something that’s at once deeply personal, but that will also outlast us, I find that a really exciting thing to be a part of.
So when you make something you have a kind of fantasy about what happens to it afterwards?
Yes! I mean, when someone buys it, hopefully they’ll send us a picture. It’s great to see someone wearing something you’ve made. And something like that you’d probably wear to a particular event, so that would be exciting to hear about. When someone buys anything it’s instant gratification, it’s the best thing ever! It goes in the shop and someone goes “I really love that, I’m going to buy it.” Then it becomes part of someone’s life, part of their story. And that is such a gratifying thought.