10 Best off-the-radar jewellery brands
Uncover some of the industry's best-kept secrets
The right jewellery can elevate any ensemble from dastardly dull to dashingly decadent. Adding even just a single-stone pendant or a pair of freshwater pearl earring to an outfit can bring an extra layer of feminine charm to any look - but that’s not to say you need to be delving deep into your pockets to fork out for the finest jewels in all the land. Nor should you have to resort to rifling through endless rails of high street garb that is as tangled as it is tarnished thanks to mass-production rates.
Off-the-radar jewellery brands are the rising underbelly of the sartorial zeitgeist, with designers from around the globe changing the face of the conventional accessories market via sustainable business models, philanthropic ties and celestial designs. So, how do you find them? As with most undiscovered talents, look no further than social media to uncover a plethora of highly-esteemed jewellers, mostly sported by hyper-stylish and dewy-skinned fashion influencers, who cleverly seduce us into their aspirational aesthetic, one hashtag at a time.
To veer away from the high street and avoid spending a small fortune in a Bond Street jeweller, why not lean towards mid-range craftsmanship and consult our round up of the 10 best off-the-radar jewellery brands to shop now.
You might’ve noticed this German jeweller’s geometric gold face charms adorning your Instagram feed. Nina Kastens is the designer behind the eponymous brand, which is awash with sterling silver, gold vermeil and delicate freshwater pearls. Her pieces are bold yet nimble, with the signature mini face choker (£202) taking centre stage thanks to its versatility and Picasso-like artistry. It’s no surprise that her pieces are frequently adorning the necks, wrists and fingers of fashion’s most sought-after influencers, including Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine.
British design house Missoma has built up a loyal following on social media thanks to its dynamic and deeply photogenic designs. There are the divine talisman necklaces - statement-like in aesthetic but light in weight - the gift-ready birthstone pieces, and the understated series of delicate gold rings that combine nostalgic charm with contemporary feminine edge. However, it’s the brand’s clever partnership with global fashion and travel influencer Lucy Williams that has shone a Valencia-filtered spotlight on Missoma. The blogger’s eponymous collection is inspired by Ancient Rome, with key pieces depicting Roman coins and amulet-like chains. Prices range from £35 to £189.
Carousel takes craftsmanship seriously, using only the highest-quality of precious and semi-precious stones in its playful designs. With entire collections dedicated to each of the 12 birthstones, it’s a cesspit for birthday presents with a difference. At £95 each, the stacking rings are a semi-affordable option and come in a variety of colours. Beautiful when stacked with multiple rings - as the name implies - but enough of a style statement on their own. For those looking for a splash of colour and sophistication, the green onyx gemstone band is a fail-safe win, even if your birthday isn't in May.
Ethically-sourced jewels might sounds like an urban accessories myth, but Pippa Small’s sustainable pieces carry social, cultural and emotional reverence. Inspired by her travels and volunteering experiences in Borneo, Thailand and India, Small’s collections ooze the kind of creativity reminiscent of the quirky art teacher you adored in school. Made from the finest materials, the jewels don’t come cheap, with one Tibetan ring coming in at a staggering £5,600 - it does feature a rather sizeable aquamarine stone though. The combination of mosaic patterns and dramatic unique stones make for magnificent pieces, particularly the drop earrings. Plus, a handful of them are made in Kabul by the men and women artisans of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, an organisation which serves to revive traditional crafts across Afghanistan.
Pearls, trinkets and delicate hoops take centre stage in this LA-based brand's collections. Sprinklings of champagne diamonds adorn single freshwater pearls in the form of earrings, necklaces and bracelets. However, the stand-out piece from this popular label is actually pearl-free: at £2,118, the sliced champagne diamond strand necklace is no joke, but neither is its one-of-a-kind design, which sells like hotcakes online due to its wearability.
Art becomes jewellery in Brazilian-born designer Paola Vilas, whose sculptural pieces have become somewhat of an instagram sensation. A number of key pieces are inspired by facial features, such as the Breton gold-plated satellite earrings, which come complete with a slimline nose and a pouty lip design. The Peggy earrings (£525) are a thing of architectural dreams - but they are mighty heavy, so do wear with caution.
Annie Costello Brown
Gold-tone brass and deep sea-blues play a starring role in the Sausalito, California-born designer’s collections, which are as ornamental as they are decorative. Influenced by tribal cultures, Costello’s designs combine geometric shapes in chandelier-like forms. The blue Pom Pom earrings are undeniably one of the most-coveted pieces, favoured by fashion editors across the globe and coming in at a fairly affordable price tag of £299.
Made in England by emerging designer Eliza Walter, sustainable jewellery takes a sophisticated turn with Lylie’s, with every piece made from recycled materials. Mediaeval chokers and statement pendants reign supreme while delicate snowflake-like earrings serve to upscale even the most casual of ensembles. Those wanting to flex their own creative muscles can also customise some of the pieces. Prices range from £56 to £270.
Founded in 2013 by a former magazine editor and creative director, Anni Lu is a Scandinavian jewellery brand favoured by the fashion set. Handcrafted beaded bracelets make for delicate holiday styling while baroque pearl earrings give any daytime look an opulent revamp. Made from 14kt solid gold and 18kt gold-plated materials, the jewels are surprisingly affordable, with trademark beaded bracelets setting fans back just £45.
Colour reaches peak saturation with Assoulin’s eccentric designs, all of which offer a myriad of joyful rainbow combinations by way of enamel tiles and cult chokers as seen on the likes of Karlie Kloss and Eva Chen. The stand-out product that’s most sought-after by the Instagram crowd is the technicolour set of three enamel and Swarovski crystal bracelets (£280), which is as gaudy as it is glorious.
The Verdict: Off-the-radar jewellery brands
When it comes to alternative jewellery brands, you can't go wrong with Nina Kastens, whose eccentric designs are bound to be a conversation-starter due to their imaginative twist on an iconic classic, the pearl necklace, which in 2018, has literally been given a facial makeover.
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