updated 24 Dec 2010, 04:37
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Tue, Sep 14, 2010
The Business Times
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Fusing pop art with ancient mysticism
by Melissa Lwee

IF DAINTY pieces of diamond encrusted jewellery were the equivalent of classical music, then Solange Azagury- Partridge's work would be its rock 'n roll counterpart.


Ms Azagury-Partridge says the unique selling point of her designs is colour. (Next) Hot lips ring

"[My] unique selling point is colour because there are more colours in the world than just white," says Azagury-Partridge who, come November, will open her first Asian flagship store in Singapore. "Jewellery is not just about diamonds."

Indeed, bold, colourful and outlandish, the London born (but with a Moroccan heritage) designer's creations are real statement pieces guaranteed to stand out from the crowd. With rings boasting hot bright lips or broken hearts on them and talisman-like ornaments, her designs fuse pop art with ancient mysticism and are definitely not for the faint-hearted.

This is, after all, a woman who believes that good jewellery is defined by the quality of its craftsmanship, design and the "added mystery element that makes your heart feel funny when you look at it", she says.

They are also works of art, or so think the curators at the Louvre and the Victoria and Albert Museum, where her works are displayed. Not bad for someone with no formal jewellery training whatsoever.

A self-described "thwarted artist with an eye for aesthetics", she joined Butler & Wilson (a costume jewellery shop in London) fresh out of university - she did a language degree - before joining the decorative arts dealer Gordon Watson.

"My experience with both sowed the seeds of my interest in jewellery. At Butler & Wilson, because costs and materials were low, the jewellery could afford to be big, exuberant and unrestrained," she recalls.

"At Gordon Watson, I learned about cost being a factor. It forces you to concentrate harder to make everything count."

It was however, a decision in 1987 to design her own engagement ring that propelled her creative adventure as a fine jewellery designer. The attention that the ring got convinced her to set up her own company in 1990 and in 1995 she opened her first shop, in London's Notting Hill. In 2001, she was chosen by Tom Ford to be creative director of Boucheron, the celebrated Parisian master jeweller, where she worked for three years.

She now has one store in London on Bond Street and one in New York on Madison Avenue and will be opening in Los Angeles's Rodeo Drive in October prior to the Singapore one.

"I saw my cousin recently who I was at school with and she reminded me that when I was 14, I said 'wouldn't it be wonderful to be a jewellery designer?' without realising it was my destiny," she adds.

Price-wise, she reveals that her pieces in Singapore will range from S$1,800 to S$875,000 and they are aimed at like minded people who appreciate and understand the multiple levels of inspiration and craft.

"I think in every city there is a group of people who will appreciate my jewellery ... Singapore is a distillation of discerning jewellery lovers. I think there is always a niche in the market for colourful and less traditional jewellery like mine."

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