The inspiration is in the name. The Berlin Collection, the latest collection from bespoke gemstone jeweller Minka Jewels, condenses the decadence, glamour and architectural landscape of Berlin’s roaring twenties into a collection of gorgeous cocktail rings crafted in 18k yellow gold, featuring a single gemstone in an octagonal-cut.
True to designer Lucy Crowther’s style, the rings are relatively minimalistic, making them versatile pieces that can transition easily from day to night. The opulence of the decade is in the central gemstone, rendered in a vibrant palette of tanzanites, tourmalines and sapphires.
As a finishing touch, each ring comes with a feather engraved inside the body of the ring — a subtle nod to the glamour of Berlin and its world-famous cabaret scene. We speak to designer Lucy Crowther about her new collection and her inspirations.
Can you tell us a bit about how you became to be a jewellery designer?
Becoming a jewellery designer started really with being surrounded by the gemstones themselves, working as a stone trader in London taught me so much about the quality of the gemstones and I wanted to be able to make a platform for them to be worn. I used to work for a very talented textile designer, Madeline Weinrib and everything was about colour so this has really stayed with me. Colour definitely is a powerful communication tool it can affect your mood and invoke emotions. Did you know the ancient Egyptians used sun-activated solarium rooms constructed with coloured glass for therapeutic purposes?
Do you remember the first piece of jewellery you designed?
I remember the first piece of jewellery I designed very well and have it still. I made an articulated turtle pendant, all the legs moved separately so it looked like it was swimming when worn.
Tell us a bit about your latest collection, Berlin, and where that inspiration came from? Why Berlin in particular?
The Berlin Collection is all about being big and bold with a flash of colour. Inspired by the bold architectural landscape of the city and the time known as the golden twenties (1920’s) where creatives and intellectuals from all over the world gathered in Berlin. It became the intellectual and creative centre of Europe. This was the time of the Bauhaus movement in art and design and the cabaret scene really took off- Josephine Baker introduced the Charleston dance and famously danced in little more than a string of pearls and a skirt made of 16 rubber bananas.
‘The city had a jewel-like sparkle’ Baker said of Berlin – Inside each ring is a hand-engraved feather, a nod to the cabaret girls and the glamour they helped bring.
Both my brothers lived in Berlin for a long time so I have spent a lot of time there over the years.
In this collection, you’ve also focused on the octagonal/ emerald-cut for the gemstones. Why did you choose this particular cut?
I chose to use octagon cut gemstones in this collection because it reflected the linear, geometrical forms of the Bauhaus movement. The gold then compliments this with its block-like form surrounding the stones. My last collection, Athena was all about cushion cut gemstones so this new collection I wanted something a bit more modern and linear.
How did you go about choosing the colours of the gemstones used in the collection?
The colours in this collection are really to do with what quality stones I was seeing at the time, I love contrasting colours so yellow gold with blue or green always stands out beautifully. The stones themselves have to be eye clean of inclusions and have a great pop of colour. ‘The city had a jewel like sparkle’ – I wanted to reflect quote of Josephine Baker, in this in this collection. Tourmalines for me have that stand out quality.
In a year where we’ve spent so much time under lockdown, do you feel that your creativity has been affected?
Lockdown has been tough on everyone, however I do feel incredibly grateful to have spent it in the English countryside where I have been surrounded by nature and felt like I have had more time to be creative. Production has taken a little bit longer than usual and having meetings via zoom with goldsmiths has been a little challenging but we have got there in the end.
What are you inspired by right now?
I feel very inspired by a company called Sky Diamond, they have created a technique of removing co2 from the atmosphere and creating diamonds from this, it goes beyond carbon neutral and is actually carbon negative, which is amazing. I will be working with them hopefully later this year and designing a collection formed around sustainability.
If you could only have one piece of jewellery, what would it be?
A ring with the most gorgeous gemstone set into it, maybe a bright pink spinel or an intense cornflower blue sapphire. Rings bring the wearer so much joy, I love appreciating the gemstones themselves and how they change in different lights.