I love jewellery but I’m really not one for buying high street pieces. All the bling I’ve adorned myself with over the years has come from markets and independent traders (I say bling but really that’s not me at all, I like big stones and quite ethnic-y pieces). Recently I had some very simple stud earrings that I bought at a market in Chichester, I loved them, they were moulded on the wings of a bee (I’m not sure whether the bee survived the process, I’m hoping the designer used bees that had died from natural causes). I wore them every day and marvelled at the fact that I hadn’t lost them (they had to be retrieved from the Hoover bag a couple of times)… until I lost one. It’s like socks that go missing in the wash, one remains to remind you of what you once had. But while odd socks may be acceptable I wasn’t really ready to rock mismatching earrings sooooo, it was time for a new pair (I bet you were wondering when I was going to get to the point weren’t you?) I’d heard of Across the Courtyard so I hopped onto their website, chose a pair of earrings (silver triangles with dyed orange jade balls), sent owner Clare Halsey a message via her Instagram page. To my delight, she delivered the very next day (AND I got to stroke her gorgeous puppy Maude). I’m so pleased with my purchase and there are plenty of other pieces I’ve got my eye on such as the lightning bolt studs and the arrow necklace. These items are all very well priced (from around £12-£20). I would say her style is quite modern with cut out pieces featuring flamingos, toucans, swallows, flying ducks, foxes etc. The more expensive, classic items include cut gemstone rings; Citrine, Lavender Amethyst, Green Quartz and Blue Topaz, priced from £120.
Clare works from her studio which is ‘across the courtyard’ at her home in Copnor (see what she did there?) I visited to have a nosey around and what struck me was how traditional and classically British it all was, I think I expected something a bit more high tech. Simple tools and techniques have been used for centuries, there’s no need for any fancy kit for this craft. Clare sits at a circular cut out in the wooden workbench and the metal she cuts away is caught in the leather that hangs below. She uses hand-held tools and listens to the radio as the sun streams in. What a lovely peaceful way to earn a living.
Do you have a jewellery box of old tangled necklaces and odd earrings (my speciality)? Maybe some pieces you’ve inherited but that aren’t exactly your style? I know I do. A really lovely idea I discussed with Clare is handing over all your bits and getting her to make a modern, bespoke piece for you. For example, I have my late grandmother’s engagement ring complete with three whopping diamonds, one of them is flawed but the other two could either make a lovely pair of earrings or perhaps a ring each for me and my sister. I love that idea and Clare loves a bespoke project too.
Across The Courtyard trade at Hillfield Trading on Castle Road so pop in to have a look at the pieces on display, they also sell via Creative Stand which you must check out, it’s a platform (set up by local design company 2 Sisters) to buy online but just from local designers and makers. www.acrossthecourtyard.co.uk