Every piece of jewellery has a story, and the ethical designer Pippa Small’s private collection tells hers. The treasured items, from Rajasthani nose rings to Buddhist prayer beads, mango-shaped perfume bottles and Balinese shell rings, are on display in the balconied upstairs room of her Notting Hill boutique. Some pieces date back to her student anthropologist days, when she lived among indigenous communities, the marginalised groups whomshe still helps so actively today. All give a fascinating insight into theinfluences on her own designs.
This week Pippa, something of a Robin Hood of the jewellery world, went to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE in recognition of Services to Ethical Jewellery Production and Charity. Her clients include Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman and Sophie Dahl, but she herself is down-to-earth, with the human rights agenda always uppermost in her mind. Leaflets for the aid agency Survival International sit beside the till, a neat representation of how she has managed to marry what she calls ‘two completely bafflingly different worlds’.
You can’t miss the rasberry pink frontage of her shop on Westbourne Grove. Just ring the buzzer and slip inside what feels more like a gallery or private home, with no prices and no pressure to buy. The walls are painted a moody grey to evoke monsoon clouds and luxurious velvet curtains frame the narrow staircase winding up to the miniature showroom above. Don’t expect any labels to the exhibition. Pippa's approach is highly personal and she or her assistant, Natasha, will happily give you a little tour.
‘All these pieces are amulets, religious, protective, that’s something that fascinates me,’ says Pippa, handling a shiva lingum from southern India. ‘These have always held meaning for humans. That’s what jewellery means to me. I bought pieces for memories, inspiration and, because I believe in amulets, for good luck.’
|What||A Hidden Gem: Exhibition of Pippa Small's Jewels|
|Where||The Gate Theatre, 11 Pembridge Road, Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3HQ | MAP|