Jewellery designer Sarah Straussberg is a first time exhibitor at the Goldsmiths’ Fair next week, but her connection with the annual jewellery showcase goes right back to her formative years. “I’ve been visiting since I was about 15, my mum [jewellery designer...
“I’ve been visiting since I was about 15, my mum [jewellery designer Lesley Strickland] used to take me every year,” she says.
“It always stood out to me as such a lovely event – having all those amazing designers in one place and everything made by hand, it’s a really personal experience.
Then there’s the venue itself, you just have to look at those chandeliers to know it’s something special.”
Sarah will be setting up shop beneath Goldsmiths’ Hall’s hallowed chandeliers for week two of the fair, which has established itself as one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary designer jewellery in the UK.
Now in its 35th year, the event showcases the design talent and craftsmanship of more than 120 emerging and established British goldsmiths and silversmiths.
Sarah falls somewhere between the former and the latter; a fresh face with just six years in the industry under her belt, but having already established a solid reputation with stockists around London, including Fortnum & Mason and The Design Museum.
It’s impressive progress, not least because a career in jewellery design very nearly didn’t happen.
“As the daughter of a jewellery designer I tried so hard not to go into it because I saw first hand how hard my mum worked,” she says.
“I actually studied materials practice at Brighton [University] and I wanted to be a sculptor working with big wooden forms, but I started moving towards metal and smaller and say ‘admit it, Sarah, this is jewellery’.”
However, this background in sculpture that has shaped the Sarah Straussberg brand; geometric forms and abstract shapes are signature elements in every collection, which she handmakes in her studio in Muswell Hill.
“I tend to sculpt something and then figure out how it will work as a collection,” she says.
“I like to look at shapes and form and layering of natural things for inspiration, I’ve always found it more helpful than looking at other jewellery designers – that tends to block me.”
Nonetheless, she is quick to rattle off a catalogue of must-see designers exhibiting alongside her at the Goldsmiths’ Fair next week, among them Joseph Coleman, Andrew Lam and Maya Selway, who made her engagement ring because “if I tried myself I never would have finished it.”
Most pieces are silver or gold-plated, but a return to the Goldsmiths’ Fair for the first time as an exhibitor necessitated something special; her first collection of commissions made from solid gold and diamonds.
“Working with solid gold is completely different; it’s so much more sensitive and malleable, so you really have to slow down the process,” she says.
“It is such a lovely event, so I wanted to do something special.”