“With my jewelry,” London-based jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge says, “it’s never mere adornment. I like to design pieces that are far more precious than they may initially appear.” Scribbles, her most recent collection, is a vivid and valuable case in point. These jewels embody audaciously colored gemstones, irreverent elegance and a conceptual daring that’s more characteristic of fine art than of luxury accessories.
According to the designer, the Scribbles range blossomed out of her lifelong love of richly colored, high-grade gemstones and her passion for doodling. Yes, you read that correctly: doodling. As Azagury-Partridge recalls, “I started by putting a gemstone on a white piece of paper and doodled around it without thinking. The scribble looked beautiful to me, so I continued exploring the idea to develop the collection.”
Starring color-saturated gems set in lacquered ceramic plate set in 18-karat gold rings, earrings or pendants, the super-slick Scribbles range embodies pulsating color combos and irregular, charming shapes that have rarely, if ever before, been associated with precious jewelry. As the forms of Scribbles defy categorization, the designer refers to them simply by their color pairings: pink and green, blue and yellow, orange and red, etc. (In a technique sometimes referred to as cold enamel, the Scribbleslacquer is carefully painted on to each jewel.)
Take for example, the Red and Orange Scribble ring, which gleams in tropically bright orange lacquer and is centered with a luscious 6.47 carat ruby that is complemented by a galaxy of tiny garnets. The Blue and Yellow Scribble ring is formed in baby blue lacquer that contrasts with its focal yellow tourmaline and confetti clouds of pavé yellow sapphires. The earrings in the range are especially intriguing, because Mix and MatchAdaptable Scribbles can join together to make earrings as long, or as short, as the wearer desires. Likewise, the right and left earrings can be of differing lengths for an asymmetrical ensemble.
In business since 1990, Azagury-Partridge opened her first store in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood in 1995. The highly collectible designer has already secured an important place in jewelry history. For example, her cherry red-lacquered and 18-karat gold Hot Lips ring puckers permanently in the world’s leading museum of art and design, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. In Europe, Azagury-Partridge’s 18-karat gold and enameled opium poppy Afghan bangle, replete with milky white sap oozing out of its golden poppy pod, along with other alluring designs, resides in La Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre in Paris. In that same city, Azagury-Partridge’s Secret Garden Metamorphosis collection of bejeweled objets d’art was exhibited for several months at La Musée d’Art Moderne. It’s also worth noting that A-list actors like Thandie Newton, Tilda Swinton, Emma Watson, Julianne Moore, Hailee Steinfeld and fashion models like Kate Moss all collect and wear Azagury-Partridge, as does luxury fashion designer Victoria Beckham.
Available at her eponymous Upper East Side New York boutique, her by-appointment only London flagship salon near Hyde Park and online, the Scribbles collection packs the visual and telepathic punch of fine art. While other haute luxe designers, such as James de Givenchy and Suzanne Syz create jewels using enameled and lacquered ceramic material over 18-karat gold, their refined shapes embody traditionally tasteful silhouettes that are MIA from Scribbles. And yet the Scribbles pieces embody undeniably organic and appealingly natural forms. “The colors and internal characteristics inside of diamonds and colored gemstones are Mother Nature’s scribbles that she has ‘written’ in gem materials,” Azagury-Partridge maintains. Acknowledging Nature as the artist who makes her jewelry possible reflects Azagury-Partridge’s cosmic overview, as well as her respect for human and art history.
The Scribbles collection belongs to a tradition of self-expression that stretches back through the ages, all the way from cave paintings to pictograms and sgraffito pottery to 21st century graffiti. While she has been expressing herself through her jewelry since 1990 and is the former creative director of the Parisian heritage jeweler Boucheron, Azagury-Partridge is a luxury design iconoclast. “I do like downplaying the conventional preciousness of jewelry,” she explains. “It’s easier to wear a jewel when it’s not so obviously precious, because then you are keeping that preciousness to yourself.”
Appealing alternatives to diamonds and other blingy jewels, the uber-colorful Scribbles are a smart design breakthrough because they are so joyfully subversive, gorgeously goofball and fresh. It seems safe to say that these jewels are ideal for those who are yearning to “Go Big” without being blingy, and equally important, without drawing undue attention to the precious nature of their adornments, Scribbles redefines the style, substance and chic of luxury jewelry.
As the income gap between the top 1 percent and the rest of us inexorably widens, Scribbles appears even more artistically successful and socially relevant. Why? Because it’s such an inventive, amusing and flattering antidote to our increasingly polarized, and often perplexing, cultural conditions.