International Jewellery London, the UK’s leading trade jewellery show sees tertiary art school Central Saint Martin’s dominate as all four selected Bright Young Gems 2019 are students of the prestigious school. The winning designers are: Isla Gilham, Eloise Kramer, Lingjun Sun, Wen-Ju Tseng.
IJL’s Bright Young Gems award is in its 14th consecutive year in 2019, selecting the brightest and most-talented designers who are recent graduates or current students of jewellery schools in the UK. These stellar designers are granted the unique opportunity to have their work exhibited at IJL, a premier jewellery industry show and to gain important insight on how to navigate the industry from dedicated mentors and experts before and during the event.
Bright Young Gems saw a surplus of exemplar entrants this year, as the project received numerous applications from an array of talent, whittled down by the judges to the winners, plus four highly-commended designers: Chih Ning Li (Birmingham University), Naomi Scott (Glasgow School of Art), Caroline Wellesley (Sir John Cass School of Architecture, Art and Design – East London) and Sarah Christian (Hereford College of Arts). These four outstanding entrants will be granted free entry to IJL and networking opportunities within the show to help carry their respective careers.
The winners of Bright Young Gems 2019 combine an eclectic taste in jewellery-making with a deep understanding and sharp eye for jewels in mood, pattern, colour and expression. The winning designers are: Isla Gilham, whose playful collection experiments with a relationship between ‘bites’ of gemstones and the display of Michelin-star delicacies; Eloise Kramer, a designer with a contemporary approach for the poetic and whimsical, as translated through her jewellery collection with elements of art and nature; Lingjun Sun, an expert opal cutter whose collection: ‘Crosscut Cabouchon’ brings a fresh, ground-breaking vision of the gemstone and Wen-Ju Tseng, a designer whose statement collection: ‘How Valuable Are You?’ serves as political dialogue to highlight and debunk toxic standards in society with everyday objects as the basis for her jewellery.
More on the Bright Young Gems 2019 winners:
Upon graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2018, Isla went on to launch her own workshop in Somerset, where she continues to create precious pieces with playful twists. Jewellery is delicious, tempting and often described as ‘good enough to eat’. Her work plays on this narrative. She hand carves bites from an array of juicy and enticing gemstones. Setting them in gold plated silver which also appear to have been tasted, scattered with crumbs and twisted in the haste of grabbing the delicious morsel.
Isla Gilham said: “I feel very lucky and excited to have been selected as a Bright Young Gem. It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase my work and it’s a real privilege to have been recognised by the panel of judges. I can’t wait for IJL in September, I’m really looking forward to receiving industry feedback on my work.”
Eloise Kramer is a British designer/maker who tells romantic, whimsical stories through jewellery. Developing poetic narratives though, she balances figurative elements inspired by art and nature with clean line and colour. She enjoys experimenting with unusual combinations of materials and processes, whilst being respectful of the heritage and craftsmanship of jewellery.
Her approach and style have been informed by her education at Central Saint Martins, from which she graduated with a First-Class Degree in Jewellery Design in 2018. Her work has been recognised by leading British jewellers Solange Azagury- Partridge and Theo Fennell, alongside awards and support from The Worshipful Company of Tin Platers. Eloise hopes to present a contemporary approach to wearing jewellery, reclaiming it as art.
Eloise Kramer said:
“Being selected as one of the Bright Young Gems for 2019 is a huge honour. For my work to be recognised by industry professionals at this early stage is extremely exciting. It can be difficult as a new graduate to find your place in the industry, International Jewellery London provides me with a fantastic opportunity to showcase my work to the industry which I hope will lead to the next opportunity and help to determine the next step in my career.”
Having worked for 10 years as an Opal cutter in Australia, Lingjun Sun has recently completed his two-year MA Jewellery Design project in Central Saint Martins. His understanding of Opals supplies the material richness to the ‘Crosscut Cabouchon’ collection. His inside knowledge reshapes the value of the parent rock in which most boulder opals are found, the opal itself forming a liquid skin across the surface of the rugged bespoke ironstone cuts he has devised.
Within the carefully designed and boldly coloured settings, Sun matches the opal with new vocabularies of materials, Corian and anodized aluminium meet gold and silver to offer a stark contrast with the characteristics of the stone. The unusual material palette allows Sun opportunities to play with scale and proportion, encouraging the wearer to look beyond a familiar understanding of the Australian opal, ‘Crosscut Cabouchon’ invites its audience to see the gem in a new light.
Lingjun Sun said:
“I am very honoured and proud to be selected by Bright Young Gems at IJL, and I would love to use this great opportunity to promote the project from my MA study and ethical, sustainable jewellery. IJL has been supporting and promoting creativities in the jewellery industry by offering valuable opportunities to designers and jewellers to showcase their work.”
Wen-Ju Tseng, jewellery designer and IJL Bright Young Gem 2019
Wen-Ju Tseng, from the University of the Arts London Central St Martins, scrutinises the individual’s role in contemporary society by challenging how societal expectations are creating a worrying trend to commodify everything we do into unrealistic values. Wryly humorous but earnestly involved, her graduate collection ‘How Valuable Are You?’ diagnoses modern neuroses by taking everyday objects as the basis for her jewellery.
Each piece in her collection tackles a divisive social expectation. Whether you are the ‘correct’ or ‘accepted’ age or specific sex, have the ‘right’ education, is ‘liked’ enough, single or married or physically ‘slim’ enough, they all share the common role of determining the way we judge people in a society obsessed by control. By referencing familiar objects such as a credit card to a condom, Wen-Ju elevated their status by highly crafting each piece of jewellery in precious materials to create a tension between our free selves and the bureaucratic dataset identities that govern us.
Wen-Ju Tseng said:
“I am incredibly honoured to have been selected as a Bright Young Gem and to have my first commercial display at IJL! I am excited to share my creativity and humour through my jewellery and to showcase to such an influential audience!”