Jewellery making involves many stages, and from initial concept to finished bespoke jewellery design, it takes years of skill to perfect each piece. Michele White draws on her thirty years in the jewellery industry. She sees herself as an artist, as much as a designer. She is Vice President of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, an organisation which has been encouraging artists for 200 years. The Society also played a significant role in the development of jewellery design and techniques, particularly around the time of the Arts and Crafts movement. The influence of the period can be seen in some of Michele's bespoke jewellery designs, which also draw heavily on Lalique.
Bespoke jewellery: the processMichele’s designs often feature trees as she has a great love of nature and botany. Each piece starts life as a drawing, taking shape as Michele works with gemstones and precious metals to develop her ideas. A single piece can take weeks, and the process is largely organic, once an initial drawing has been done.
‘There is no thinking of end purpose, I just work from my initial idea and let concepts develop. ‘I create a tableau through layers and assemble the tree design, cutting out each of the branches separately and sprinkling the foliage over, which is then fused and soldered. ‘The gaps in the branches are achieved by cutting out with a saw. There’s another sheet of silver at the back, and the agate is set when all the components are done. It is set into a back plate and coloured with oxidation. 'My larger pieces are made in layers, sometimes with a landscape at the front.'
Rings and broochesMichele’s range of rings and brooches are extremely popular, as these are pieces that can be worn every day. She will often get chatting to a customer as they browse her work, which is displayed alongside top UK furniture design at Artisan Alchemy Gallery.
‘I like to chat with people and find out what has brought them to the Gallery, and what they may be looking for. I make some pieces that can be worn as brooches or pendants, so that they can be used all year round. ‘It’s interesting to note that the women often buy for themselves. They tend to come on their own, and know what they like. Of course, I’m equally happy helping men choose for a special birthday or anniversary.’