By Eden Dawn
Londoner Pippa Small boasts an incredibly impressive resume. The cultural anthropologist and successful jewelry designer—who’s made collections for the likes of Tom Ford, Chloe and Nichole Farhi—is also a kind heart.
In June she was awarded the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by the Queen for her work with women in Afghanistan, Panama, Bolivia and Rwanda. Small works with the indigenous people in these countries to adapt their traditional craft heritage into jewelry for a contemporary market giving them a source of income.
Though not a Portlander herself, her sustainability, ethically sourced materials, and desire to make a difference (even when it puts her life in danger) make her a welcome addition to Twist's jewelry collection. We asked the designer to share five of her favorite pieces—and the stories behind them.
MIXED COLOUR DIAMOND MOSAIC RING
I am fascinated by diamonds, I love the mineralness of them, their stoniness—the mythology around them. The hardest of the gems and made of pure carbon, their single ingredient makes them powerful and intriguing. I love the palette of greys and browns in this ring. I am not really interested in carats of diamonds, in their fancy brilliant cuts, in the blinding sparkle. I have always been drawn to quieter diamonds, that glisten and whisper rather then shout. I simply set these stones together in a tight random cluster to celebrate the rockiness of diamonds.
MIXED ROUGH GEM AND GOLD WRAP BRACELET
I love this piece as it is at once so primal and so grounding. I remember choosing these pieces of rough nuggets of sea blue aquamarine from Afghanistan, regal amethyst from Brazil, sunshine citrine and orange carnelian from Pakistan whilst on a trip to India. They are all wrapped carefully in gold, strung together they make an ancient amulet to protect and inspire. Their raw earthiness allows a close connection to our planet, encircling the wrist in a dance of colour.
I have been making Tibetan rings for years and love them for the choice of one powerful beautiful stone that is usually left uncut and unpolished in all its natural splendour. I try not to meddle too much with a stone but to simply present it—the Tibetan ring (named after an old turquoise and gold ring I found in Tibet years ago) simply is 22k gold that gently and snugly follows the shape of the stone and dips into all its contours and curves. It is a warrior's ring, a queen's ring...a very powerful ring.
5 STRAND MIXED NEUTRAL NECKLACE
The flat cut I originally developed nearly 20 years ago, inspired by some old Burmese rubies I had found in India. I asked my stone cutter Om Prakesh in Jaipur to cut our semi precious stones in the same way, flattish and following the natural shape of the stone and giving it gentle facets to give it the merest hint of a sparkle as the ancients did with their stones, a very gentle enhancement. I love the palette of this necklace and the unusual choice of stones—of tigers eye, hematite, smokey and rutilated quartz, moonstone, and labradorite. An interesting rainbow of earthy tones.
INVISIBLE HERKIMER EARRINGS
The 'Invisible' collection is my attempt at stones growing in a cluster, a suspension of stones, and the hidden gold setting allowing the stones to be held discreetly and just allowing them to shine with no distraction. The Herkimer—the most wonderful of the quartz's (my favourite stone) found in Herkimer country in New York state these delightful glittering crystals are a delight in their shape and luster and the beautiful patterns the uncut crystals make.