When it comes to British jewelry, if the three S’s reign supreme (that would be Solange, Stephen and Shaun) then Solange Azagury-Partridge is naturally the queen.
Unlike the quiet force that was the focus of last month’s 3 Pieces column, Wendy Yue, Azagury-Partridge is one of the jewelry industry’s most recognizable and lauded talents.
Her resume comes close to ideal: The London-based designer has an oft-copied signature (her Lips ring), once served as the creative director of Boucheron, and even has pieces in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Azagury-Partridge is the caliber of designer that others look to for inspiration.
With a design history as illustrious as hers, I couldn’t help but wonder: If asked to choose, which three pieces would the artist wish to discuss?
Below, Azagury-Patridge’s illuminates us with her choices, which happen to be pieces she personally loves to wear.
Solange Azagury-Partridge’s 18-karat yellow gold ring with natural octahedron-shaped diamond
Solange Azagury-Partridge: This is my engagement ring. I designed this, it must be, gosh, 30 years ago.
It’s 18-karat gold and a natural octahedral diamond. I sourced the diamond through a friend of mine who was a diamond dealer.
My original engagement ring was a rough diamond in a silver bombe because we couldn’t afford gold, but then it was stolen. So I was able to upgrade to a gold one.
I don’t wear it every day, I wear it occasionally, not often, but I still love it.
At the time, I was working for an antique vintage jewelry dealer and the pieces that I loved were kind of that shape, that gold bombe shape. I suppose I felt a bit young for a twinkly diamond and I wanted something that felt contemporary and useful and durable and wearable, and that’s what I came up with really, and it was the juxtaposition between the smooth dome of gold and the spiky diamond that I liked.
I liked the subtlety of the diamond. I liked that it was a natural, very straight-line shape. I thought it was amazing that you could find that in nature. It was so subtle that people didn’t really know what it was. I kept having to tell people, so it was nice; it was sort of like a little secret.
“Color is what I love.”
I started my own line, I suppose, about five years later. Actually it was kind of a continual process. I kept adding pieces to (my line) and selling them, and then eventually I set up a business about three or four years later.
I did make a few of those rings for other people and I did some matching earrings. When I started designing it was all about the uncut stone. All my jewelry was made with uncut rough gems.
Solange Azagury-Partridge’s rhodium-plated 18-karat white gold Chlorophyll necklace with emeralds, lacquer and diamonds.
SAP: This one is from 2012 or 2013. You have blackened 18-karat white gold and you’ve got emeralds and you have lacquer and some diamonds.
Green is the color of nature and chlorophyll is the green of nature, the natural composition of the green. I suppose it was the natural world that was my inspiration for this.
I love emeralds so much and the color green but I never wear necklaces. I don’t really like necklaces and I feel slightly choked by them. This is the first necklace I’ve ever worn that I want to wear all the time, so I think it’s quite significant on that level.
This piece is meant to be mine. I made a ruby version which is the autumn, the colorblind version of chlorophyll. Color is what I love.
There’s always a challenge in creating a piece. I suppose the reason I enjoy wearing it so much is that it’s so comfortable and fits very well, and that’s always a challenge to achieve.
Getting all of the little buds carved, making it hang properly, it’s all a bit of a nightmare.
Eventually we manage it, that’s part of the process we go through.
“This is the first necklace I’ve ever worn that I want to wear all the time.”
My collections normally take about nine to 10 months from inception to final production. That’s how long this necklace took.
Solange Azagury-Partridge’s rhodium-plated 18-karat white gold Moon and Stars ring with white diamonds
SAP: That’s the Moon and Stars ring. It’s 18-karat white gold. This was for my last collection, last year, my “Everything” collection.
It has moving parts, which a lot of my jewelry does. It’s a spinning ring, which is one of my “things” I suppose.
The idea is that the central diamond is a moon and the stars spin around it. These are diamonds cut into a star shape, so we had to get the diamonds specially cut into that shape and they’re orbiting the moon.
I love rose cuts actually, like the center stone. I like their subtle light and they have a softness to them. I like the way that the weight of them is in the surface rather than in the depth.
“There’s always a challenge in creating a piece … it’s all a bit of a nightmare.”
It’s down to the jeweler really to work out the mechanism. If they’re very problematic, we can sit around the table for days and hours talking about how we’re going to work it out, how to make it.
The moon and the stars are just things one dreams about and looks up into the sky and they’re just a wonderful part of nature. Again it’s the natural world, the celestial bodies that are kind of dream-worthy. It’s like the stars around your orbit.
It’s special I suppose because it’s an updated version of my spinner ring. It’s another piece that I want to wear a lot. There are some pieces that I just love and have to have and this is one of them.