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London Fashion Week estethica highlights: Joanna Cave

Posted Feb 28 2010 4:47am

cave2 Simple and elegant. These are the two words that describe Joanna Cave and her collection. The half English and half Greek jewellery designer caught our eye with her timeless pieces and won us over with her artistic flair. Eleni Sardi met up with Joanna at estethica.

Joanna grew up in Greece and spent her summers on the Cycladic island of Ios. Taking a look at her collection, it’s hard for me not to see some of the influences that these experiences must have had on her creativity.

All the pieces, even the ones that more intricate and detailed, exude simplicity, a positive spirit and are characterised by a clean and honest design. Nothing is fussy, nothing says ‘bling’ or ‘over the top’. Exactly like the simple white houses with blue shutters nesting on the dark brown soil of the Aegean islands.

Joanna’s creations manage to be soft and delicate but bold at the same time. Perhaps that’s because chunky pieces are missing and the metals are thinly shaped to create geometric shapes and romantic symbols. She’s inspired by the natural world and the old times. As she told Greenmystyle.com, some of her designs take after the lace detailing on old costumes and that is reflected on several pieces, such as the Pilar earrings. Some ethnic and folkloric patterns also emerge and Joanna frequently uses pearls and threads to enhance the design. ‘I love working with threads but at the moment there is a lack of ethical threads that have such bold colours, so that’s something I’m looking into’.

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Her vision of sustainability comes from her own family experience. Her dad owned a jewellery shop which had lots of old stock lying around. ‘The process of mining silver is so cruel, it’s destroying the earth and it’s not very controlled. There are workers who are not earning a fair wage. On the other hand, there’s so much silver in the world. We all have things passed down from our mothers and grandmothers’, Joanna said to explain why she took the decision to recycle her dad’s old silver pieces. She just melted everything and used the recycled silver for her creations in some cases plating it with gold.

Her words on the abundance of old silver forgotten in jewellery stores and antique shops reminded me of an art installation which is on display in Tate Modern. Created by Cornelia Parker, ‘30 Pieces of silver ’ features domestic and other silver objects found in antique shops by the artist and flattened by a steamroller.  An installation that evokes the metal’s commemorative powers as these objects are passed down from generation to generation only to lose their utilitarian aspect and end up as relics of the past.

The process of recycling silver ensures that old pieces don’t just have to end up as relics. As they’re given a new lease of life, they result in beautiful creations that sometimes come with a treasured story.

Youkali copy1Joanna also uses ethical pearls; they’re ‘Japanese Akoya’, farmed respecting natural and social fair trade guidelines. When she started working with ethical pearls she made the decision to use less than she did in the past in order to keep the prices affordable to everyone. For her, ethical fashion shouldn’t be overly pricey and elitist – that’s beyond the point.

Joanna Cave’s creations are sold in the UK, in London and in Brussels. Her artistic endeavours also involve creating pieces for fashion designers’ Deux Hommes collection and designing a room in the style of her signature jewellery for the Fashion House Hotel in Athens.fashion house hotel2

As she’s contemplating a return to London where she studied jewellery design, I’m sure that we’ll be hearing a lot about her work in the very near future.

Visit Joanna Cave’s website .

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