Finger candies: Delicious jewels from Minka
Minka jewels can be compared to colored candies. Rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets sparkle with chromatic intensity thanks to juicy gemstones that look as if they were plucked from a rainbow. Watermelon- and lime-colored tourmalines, honey-colored citrine, icy diamonds and sky-blue topaz are set in chunky settings of 18-carat gold, resulting in an unabashedly opulent yet determined style.
Each gemstone is handpicked by gemologist Lucy Crowther, who has a passion for jewelry that “pops in color”, is always brave, playful and of the highest quality.
Crowther is no ordinary designer. After her training at the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, she has a deep understanding of high-quality, superlative gemstones. She honed her skills at the end of the business, first as a gemstone buyer for the famous Gem Palace in Jaipur, jewelers of the Indian royal family since 1852, then as sales manager for GF Williams in London’s Hatton Garden, a global supplier of gemstones.
“Work for [G.F.Williams] was an incredible training experience over three years, ”says Crowther, whose current Minka Jewels“ Mermaid ”collection is inspired by the colors of the sea and features pink (below), aquamarine and green stones, as well as Tahitian and Keshi pearls. “I learned to appreciate every stone, which was really nerve-wracking at first. You have to be so precise and meticulous in the observation process – it’s all about your eye and your judgment. I would also travel with the camp to meet renowned jewelry makers and customers all over the world, from Ireland to Nepal. I love all types of stones, but my favorite is tourmaline because there are so many shades. Color makes us happy and even more so when it comes from the core of the earth in the form of these little miracles. “
Crowther is spoken softly until she comes across the story of a stone. “I buy my gemstones from a great stone dealer,” she says. “It’s really like a candy store. Nowadays he sends me WhatsApp messages with details of new inventory and even those images on a tiny screen are hard to resist! ”Half of Crowther’s business comes from custom projects and recently she’s been working on a bespoke gold ring that makes a living Holds 9 carat antique yellow sapphire currently set in a necklace. “It is a very deep Sri Lankan stone so some careful thought is required. After all, it has to be modern and portable. Just the kind of challenge I love, ”she enthuses.
During the lockdown, the jeweler saw a surge in business thanks to Instagram. “There have been a lot more customers approaching me on social media recently,” she says. “I’ve also seen an increase in female customers buying my pieces. That’s a pretty big change. ”Crowther values their brand image very much. “I take all of my own photos for Minka’s IG feed. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a photographer. In fact, I studied photography at the Bournemouth Arts Institute. Nowadays, however, I stick to my still life photos and pictures of my dogs. “
She says that her grandmother, who had a penchant for versatile and tactile pieces, taught her a love for jewelry from an early age. “I recently did a double design – one ring is 18k yellow gold, the other is 18k white gold – and this ‘two-in-one’ shape is linked by a diamond-set hinge so that you can see the stones can flip to both sides. It’s inspired by a ring my grandma used to wear that could be turned on either side to reveal sapphires, rubies and diamonds. It’s hard to explain, but it’s about making practical jewelry that is charming, timeless and of course playful. “
After her photography course, Crowther took a rather unconventional path into the jewelry world: As the assistant to fashion editor and stylist Sebastian Kaufmann, she was drawn to the dazzling jewels he was looking for for his editorial shoots. “I often collected jewelry from Pebble London, an archive in Sussex Gardens,” explains the designer, who is best known for her large, precious cocktail rings in many colors. “It’s a real Aladdin cave with jewelry from all over the world. This is where the spark really started. I am definitely a ring person. It’s the most personal piece of jewelry when you think about it. The stones I choose look different depending on what light they are in. A ring is just as important to the wearer as it is to anyone else. You can look at it all day. “