Last week, I was privileged to be invited to a “Meet the Maker” evening with the jewellery designer, Ilene Steele, organised by the fab people at Thinkers PR. The evening was an intimate gathering of bloggers and writers, offering a unique opportunity to introduce the fabulous new collection and to meet the lady herself in her studios and workshop in London’s jewellery capital of Hatton Garden. I was excited to attend, having seen pictures of some stunning jewellery and some really different designs on Ilene’s website, so was thrilled to travel across London with my fellow blogger friend to see where it all happens, to meet Ilene and her delightful daughter, the Thinkers team and a group of lovely like-minded bloggers.
On muggy, sunny, evening, it was a little too hot to sit down and chat over a cup of tea (or coffee, being Ilene’s hot drink of choice!) but I did get the chance to try on and view Ilene’s beautiful latest jewellery collections and to natter with her and other guests over an ice-cold drink and some amazing home-made Guacamole (made by the designer herself, naturally)!
Originally hailing from New York, (one of my favourite cities – more on that later!) Ilene lives in East London and loves the creative, vibrant atmosphere of Dalston and the surrounding areas, which remind her of parts of the Big Apple! Ilene told us that the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the key inspirations for Ilene’s work, reflecting the ‘sea of life’ that is experienced in a busy metropolis, “I draw inspiration from the urban environment: the architecture, the swarms of people, the pace of life…” I can completely identify with that as a source of energy and inspiration, particularly the buzz that you get from New York, and I’m not even a native New Yorker (though often wish I was)! I am also always inspired by water and the sea in particular, so this collection certainly struck a chord with me.
My favourite piece from Ilene’s Wave Collection is this blue ring, in 18-Carat White Gold with an emerald-cut stone and strikingly different band. The ‘wave’ effect is created using a cuttlefish, bringing together inspiration from the sea and modern life in one stunning piece of jewellery. It reminds me of waves on the sand, and Ilene mentioned that it is one of her favourite pieces, too!
Ilene’s work is genuinely different in that the sparkling precious stones in the jewellery actually face the wearer – implying special meaning or significance for the wearer themselves. It’s also a cheering sight to see a little bit of sparkle on a gloomy day! This makes it so much more appealing than mass-produced items, and means you can have a piece of jewellery that is really unique to you, and you alone. This also particularly appealed to me, as each and every piece of jewellery I own or have owned has always held special meaning for me in some way, and reminds me of specific life events, people, or thoughts.
Bringing together all this creativity into such high-quality pieces of jewellery is clearly no mean feat – it’s very hard to believe that Ilene has only been designing jewellery for four years! “I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly practical or creative person,” laughed Ilene, “I come from a very academic background. But I find designing and shaping the pieces therapeutic – always learning as I go, and in turn learning from each mistake! I discover new techniques, styles and inspiration along the way.”
Ilene will feature again in my New York/London piece soon, but in the meantime, I am jotting down a few of her styles on my wish list! There’s still my wedding anniversary and Christmas left for not-so-subtle hints this year, so who knows?! 😉
Keep sparkling! X