It's tricky being a jewellery retailer. Selecting and buying the right pieces to work as a cohesive and attractive 'collection' is no mean feat. The pieces you sell embody the brand and establish the boutique within a specific style or aesthetic, which customers need to recognise and trust in order for them to return. The rules are the same as for independent designers starting out with their own collections - the brand must be definable (my rule of thumb is that you must be able to define your brand in 3 words - and please let none of them be 'quirky' 'individual' or 'unique', these mean nothing) recognisable and authentic.
Since Laura Kay took over as the buyer and managing director of the 20 year old family jewellery business in Muswell Hill, Tomfoolery in North London has gone from strength to strength. The bright, white, contemporary space showcases a tight collection of both fine and fashion jewellery, but it's the fine jewellery section at the far end of the shop where the boutique really makes its mark.
This is a selection of jewellery you'd want to wear every day. Featuring hard to find American designers such as wwake alongside well-known British makers such as Polly Wales, the range is delicate, branching into both organic styles and simple geometric minimalism, but both towards the gentler end of the spectrum, which also results in a lot of the pieces being more affordable than you'd expect for fine jewellery.
Yellow and rose gold prevails, with dainty chains and smooth lines, accentuated with colour popping gemstones - particularly noteworthy is designer Rei, as well as harder edged but small and delicate in scale diamond pieces by Rivoir.
I regularly send people here to try on unusual engagement rings as the selection is fantastic - non-traditional but still absolutely workable, in particular the in-house range Metier by Tomfoolery, which offers art deco inspired silhouettes and simple lines. For more organic styles there is a wide selection of Polly Wales, Michelle Oh and Ruth Tomlinson, who are probably the leaders in this kind of style in the UK.
London based Japanese designer Hiroshi Kurokawa brings a sleek elegance to further slimline gold pieces, with a great selection of rings that have interesting details such as tassel chains or hardware style rings.
A great new addition is London jewellery designer duo Shimell & Madden, with their instantly recognisable graphic, linear style that is contrasted in the newest collections with smooth cabochons like in the garnet pendant featured below. A jewellery brand to watch, the pair have already been selected by Stephen Webster to represent the best of British jewellery talent in the British Fashion Council's jewellery initiative, Rock Vault.
Tomfoolery's style has been calmly and carefully carved out by owner Laura, and it occupies a niche in the market for those who favour sleek, discreet and intelligent design. The introduction of the in-house brand Metier, which she also designs, allows her to add pieces and ranges that she feels are missing in the market, and they complement and integrate perfectly with the rest of the boutique's collections. And she's not content with just that: future projects include COLLECTIBLES, an exciting collaboration with a selection of designers producing one-off or limited edition pieces exclusively for the boutique. Launching soon, here's a sneak peak of what's to come:
A diamond tribute: the Bowie Bracelet
Well worth a visit up to the top of London's Muswell Hill:
109 Fortis Green Road
Images by Emma Hare Photography