The annual Art Ring exhibition by London jewellery store retailer Tomfoolery is always a joy to see. As well as presenting designs that simply beg to fill up every finger, the driving concept that jewellery can be art allows us to expand our minds and allows the guest designers to expand their creativity.
More than 40 jewellery designers have taken part in Tomfoolery’s Art Ring exhibition this year, each selecting a one-off design to be showcased as part of the project. As with most events in 2020, the exhibition, which usually has a physical element at Tomfoolery’s Muswell Hill store, is purely online right now due to November’s lockdown. The selling exhibition will run until the end of January, however, so when restrictions lift there will be an opportunity to browse these daring rings in person.
Tomfoolery’s creative director Laura Kay – the brains behind Art Ring, which is now in its third year – believes that though we can no longer mingle in person, trying on jewels while knocking back a wine or three, exhibitions are no less important in these times. Art Ring, she says, is symbolic of the increasing importance of creativity in tumultuous times, with the bold designs that favour flair over commerciality allowing us an escape from our troubles.
The project, which you can view in full at Tomfoolery’s website, includes submissions from jewellers including Ruth Tomlinson, Franny E, Fraser Hamilton, Artemer, Shimell & Madden, Lucy Gledhill, Melanie Georgacopoulos, Max Danger and many more. All of the one-of-a-kind rings are for sale, each sold with a dedicated Story Card featuring a sketch and quote from the designer.
Lured in by the escapism of such sparkling click bait, here are my own top five picks of Tomfoolery’ Art Ring 2020.
Tomasz Donocik’s geometric style is perfectly represented in this celestial ring. I love the clash between the blackened gold, achieved by plating white gold with rhodium, and the bright zing of the diamonds and emeralds. An imagined explosion of diamonds bursts forth from what could be conceived as a traditional eternity band, although the twisted setting of the emerald reminds us that this is no ordinary ring.
If there is one thing we’re all in need of, it’s escapism. If there’s two, it’s a holiday and escapism. This mad menagerie from Maud Traon provides both. Though the designer describes her Art Ring as a “peaceful Eden”, the flamingos, tropical botanicals and scream of glitter, beads and sequins melded with silver, as well as tanzanite and tourmaline gemstones, gives me full-on Club Tropicana vibes. See you by the beach bar.
I am a huge fan of Fraser Hamilton’s work, and already have one of his necklaces in my collection. What I enjoy about his jewellery is the way he creates unorthodox settings for colourful gems, and also that you can feel his hand in the aesthetic of the design. It is the antithesis of mass produced. This ring is no different, with a quartet of diverse gems enveloped in pastry-like folds of buttery yellow gold.
There has been a real revival and appreciation of the ancient in jewellery of late. Not just cherished time-served techniques, but ancient historical motifs such as cameos, sculptures, coins, Gods and centuries-old talismanic lore. For me, this ring by Atelier Narce taps into this zeitgeist with its carved gold statuesque face that seems to show signs of ware accumulated through the ages. To make it even more alluring, this is juxtaposed with wonderfully-soft-hued gems, including rose-cut diamonds.
It was the lure of an optical illusion that drew me to this ring by Artemer. What I at first thought must be a dome of rock crystal smothering the other jewels turned out, on closer inspection, to be two very unusual half-moon rose-cut diamonds. Complicit in this ring’s attempts to recreate the reflection of the moon over the sea is a further three-dimensional pile up of beautiful gems – a step-cut teal sapphire, flanked by teal sapphire and diamond baguettes. Mesmerising.
Artemer 18ct yellow gold, diamond and teal sapphire The Ocean and the Moon ring, £13,900