All that glisters

Modernists prefer the simplicity of silver. Photographs by Julia Cody
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The Independent Culture

Top row Wide ring with edging, pounds 50.50, by Kate Hodgson at Janet Fitch; square beaten ring, pounds 143, by Jacqueline Rabun; melted beaten chunky ring, pounds 70, by Paul Magen at Janet Fitch; chunky indent ring about pounds 95 to order from Space NK Middle row Wire cigar cube ring, pounds 117, by Jacqueline Rabun; thin mottled band, pounds 48, silver band, pounds 56, and unfinished edge ring, pounds 56 all by Paul Magen Bottom row 'H' ring, pounds 130, by Jacqueline Rabun; hammered ring, pounds 56, and thin band, pounds 48, both by Paul Magen


Ally Cappellino, 95 Wardour Street, W1. Janet Fitch, 188a Kings Road, SW3; 25 Old Compton Street, W1, and 37 Neal Street, WC2. Liberty, Regent Street, W1. Jacqueline Rabun from Jess James, Newburgh Street, London W1; Liberty, as before; Harrods Knightsbridge, SW1; Sheila Miller, Glasgow; Walter Black, Nottingham. Oasis, branches nationwide. Space NK, Thomas Neal's Centre, WC2

There are several schools of thought when it comes to wearing jewellery. There's the discreet approach: small loops or studs in the ear, one or two rings on the fingers, and perhaps a fine chain around the neck. The conspicuous consumption approach is gold, gold, and more gold. Then there's kitsch and camp (love-heart rings and sweetie bracelets), costume (faux pearls and glittering baubles), ethnic (beads and carvings) and subversive (tongue-, nose-, navel- and eyebrow-piercing). And then there's the modernist tack: no gold, lots of silver.

Jacqueline Rabun, who works with silver and endeavours to give her work an "organic", textural feeling, remarks, "Newness doesn't work with the body." She injects a rough, unfinished edge to her work, hammering rings, beating pendants and "distressing" the silver wire she uses to make her cubist arm-cuffs.

Mary Campbell is the jewellery buyer for Liberty. She has been buying Rabun's work and that of fellow designers Wright & Teague for several seasons. "Silver is not obvious and garish," she says. "It is complimentary and versatile." Silver can be polished to a dull matt or a bright shine, oxidised and blackened to make it look aged, or beaten to give an "ancient sunken treasure effect". And you can wear a chunky silver ring, or 14 bangles, without breaking the bank.