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About Pippa Small

I am fascinated by stones, their individual personalities and the magical stories which they each behold. Enchanted by these tiny, portable, works of art and the unique tales they had to tell, I strived to find a way to allow them to speak. I love making jewellery and believe that held close to the body, objects have the power to comfort, protect and delight.

Most of my early childhood was spent collecting pebbles on long mountain walks and exploring the outdoors in Northern Quebec where I was born. Although, a whole new world soon opened up to me when my mother’s eccentric desire to travel led our family on adventures to Africa, India and the Middle East.

So many sights and sounds from our many voyages are still held with me. I remember meeting tribal women at a young age and being mesmerised by the beautifully intricate hand crafted treasure which adorned them. Inspired, I soon began collecting my own. I would gather odd bits, old buttons from a loved one’s shirt, a shell, or a pebble from a beloved riverside and using a dentist’s drill I could make holes in anything.

It was during these adventures, my life-long interest in cultures began. Meeting people in different landscapes with different realities urged me to learn what moved them, to study their beliefs and discover what their inspirations were. I then went on to study a degree in Anthropology and a Masters in Medical Anthropology. Soon after, whilst spending the summer working in Thailand with Burmese refugees, an idea began to form in my mind.

Still fascinated by the idea of adorning jewels which each had their own personality, I decided to create my own collection of stories with jewellery. Working with a team of craftspeople in Rajasthan over twenty years ago, my designs and visions were translated beautifully. And at the end of the summer I took them to Paris fashion week. Here the tangle of memories which had wrapped itself around my wrists evoked attention and I was first picked up by Barney’s Japan.

 

For me, making jewellery is the quiet study of a stone. Tilting it to the light, feeling it in your palm and listening to its story. I have often allowed the stones to lead the design, permitting little interference from the Gold which encases them. There are three main themes that run through my mainline collections, The Mogul Cut, The Uncut and The Garden Stories.

The Mogul Cut Story was inspired a few years ago when I was with a gem dealer friend. He produced an intriguing packet of Mogul cut Spinels from Mogok in Burma, in Candy Pinks and Lavender Purples. The three hundred year-old stones were flat on one side with uneven facets on the other. They had been gently polished and enhanced, without being completely transformed. Each stone was different in size and shape, holding natural inclusions. They had an internal life which made them recognisable, they each had their own unique personalities.

I love working with stones in their organic shapes. The Uncut Stone Story uses rough gems in their natural state. Worn through centuries in water, they are shaped by their journey from the Earth’s core to the crust. Their unique colours, testament to their exceptional voyages. Unaltered and untransformed, I believe that they are more powerful.

I also take a lot of inspiration from the natural world. I stay in a little pink palace when I visit Jaipur, surrounded by a rich garden of trees, palms and flowering bushes. In the middle of a desert landscape, it is where the wildlife flocks, wherever your gaze rests, it’s full of movement, full of life. Here I was first inspired to create The Garden Collection. I would arrive at the goldsmith’s workshop with pockets full of curling leaves, opening buds, seeds and fruit and set to transforming these natural wonders into Gold. Many years later, I am still fascinated by nature’s infinite beauty.

Seeing first hand, the struggle it was for artisans with beautiful traditions and valuable skills to generate income in the remote communities I had visited many years before, I thought that perhaps there was a way that I could help. This lead me on a journey around the world working with different communities on various crafts, the Batwa Pygamies of Rwanda, Kuna Indians of Panama and the Mapuche of Chile where I helped revive traditions.

The idea of collaborating with them through design, was very exciting and being able to connect them to an international market was a magical process for me. When people’s skills are appreciated, their knowledge of materials and techniques are valued, and they are told that something that their community traditionally makes is beautiful and enticing, they begin to hold their heads a little higher. I am now a proud ambassador of Survival International and strive to continue to bridge the gap between marginalised communities and the global market in a fair, transparent way.

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