So whilst we're all stuck at home self-isolating or social distancing, I've rounded up the latest small jewellery brands that are fast acquiring cult status.
Of course buying jewellery is not a priority at the moment, but if you're going to buy anything for now or the future, these four independent jewellery brands are all you need to know.
A little background on my feelings about fashion-fine jewellery (that's anything less precious than 18k gold; ie gold-plated silver, 14k gold, 9ct gold or just base metal/brass) - it's extremely rare that I will buy fashion or 'non-fine' jewellery, as I often feel it's simply not good value for money to buy plated jewellery if the gold finish is just going to wear away in time - it can feel throwaway and insubstantial compared to the ever-lasting solidness of 18k gold.
However, there are a handful of small jewellery brands where this rule definitely does not apply, simply because the design - and the quality - is just so good.
There are three rules I stick to when deciding whether buying fashion-fine or plated jewellery is worth it - truly original and unique design, impeccable craftsmanship and manufacturing (including gold plating that could pass for solid gold), and an authentic point of view. Basically - brilliantly designed, unique, high quality jewellery, designed by smart, talented people.
Here are my top 4 masters of the 'fashion-fine' niche.
A truly exceptional jewellery brand, Completed Works tick all of the above. The quality is incredible, looking and feeling like solid gold, the vermeil pieces are beautifully designed with highly original silhouettes, structure and feeling. Thoughtfully created, they are also lightweight and wearable, look way more expensive than they are, and are suitably under-the-radar so you won't find everyone at a wedding in the same earrings. Yet.
The earrings are a highlight for me, and I am in an on-going tussle with myself as to which pair to buy to compensate for not being able to go out for the next few months. Available at www.completedworks.com.
This scottish designer has recently achieved cult status for good reason - each piece of her handmade jewellery is made up of found or vintage elements that she has obsessively collected over the years, set in silver and plated in 18k gold. These tiny worlds are laden with symbolism; protective eyes, a palm of a hand, suns and moons...and the wearer naturally imbues a meaning in them that is truly personal and special. Available online at The Crop or from the Grainne Morton website.
This Belgian based designer spends half of the year travelling to and from Jaipur, India, to hand select the beautiful gemstones she encorporates into her miniature worlds of wonder. A strong talismanic feel, these jewels feel special not just due to the level and detail of the design, something I always look for, but also in the meaning. Totemic plaques of intricately detailed gold lie flat against the wearer's chest, and feel protective and powerful, depite their tiny scale.
Browse or buy now at Celine Daoust or The Crop.
With some of the highest quality of vermeil jewellery I've ever seen (I once spent a good few minutes inspecting a piece with a fellow jewellery expert and we literally couldn't tell if it was solid or plated gold) Flora Bhattachary creates sculptural, bold styles in 18k as well as vermeil, using a beautiful selection of bright gemstones.
With a new line in cocktail rings, as well as a new alternative engagement ring collection, her talismanic designs are less literal than others, using geometric patterns and rythmns reinterpreted from Indian architecture and mythology, with a deeper meaning drawing from her Indian heritage and connections.
Available to buy now at Flora Bhattachary.
To see more images and videos of the jewellery featured in this post being worn, head over to The Cut London Instagram. If you'd like help buying a specific piece as a present, or for yourself, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.